“In Pleasant Places” with Jehovah’s Organization
As told by Ewart Chitty
HOW can one get the right viewpoint on important questions and problems, so as to make right decisions? I have found that it is by heeding the published word of Jehovah’s organization, which directs one in harmony with the Scriptures. Truly I can say that this has been the practical means time and time again that has caused the curtain never to drop in heavy folds around me, but to rise ever higher on new delightful vistas of Kingdom truths and Kingdom service.
THE CURTAIN RISES
My mother came to appreciate God’s truth in 1912, and I remember that she tried to interest me in spiritual things. But at the age of fourteen it made no appeal, except that I realized she had got hold of something that meant everything to her. Two years later World War I started, and it was not long before the young men of Britain had to take life seriously. With an older brother and a boy friend I attended some talks being given by the Bible Students, as Jehovah’s witnesses were then known. All of us accepted the understanding of the fundamental Bible truths then being taught. As far as my own outlook was concerned, it could be said the curtain began to rise.
The question of dedication, of course, had arisen. I knew it meant giving my whole life to God to do his will, and I knew it was a privilege and a step I ought to take. But I also realized that, once taken, it could never be recalled. What was it that helped and prompted me to make the decision?
It was the organization that provided the needed help, Jehovah’s organization. I was then working in a big insurance office, traveling to and fro by underground train. I was young and my sight was good, and I used to do a lot of reading while traveling. Very distinctly I recall I was reading one morning in Volume III of Studies in the Scriptures about the urgency of taking the desired step. I could turn to the page now, yes, there it is on page 225, where it says: “If any have but recently come to know and love our Lord, and desire to serve him and his truth, let not such be discouraged. . . . If you see the ‘door’ of opportunity for sacrifice and service open before you, enter it. But enter quickly.”
That decided it for me. That was the moment. Without exaggeration, for me that meant the curtain was rising on a new life. It was a moment of supreme happiness, and I felt very grateful to Jehovah for providing through the publications of the Watch Tower Society just the encouraging word I needed. I am highlighting this point in my life story because I feel it is so vital. I know it is. Not only in my own life, but in the lives of many others personally known to me, I can see that heeding the voice of Jehovah’s organization has often been the determining factor as to the course taken. It has been the crucial test. The currently speaking voice of God’s organization can be a test and it can just as well point out just how Jehovah is to be served, giving detailed guidance and encouragement and warning. This can be a searching test as to whether, or how much, self comes into the picture.
It was the voice of the organization that caused me to take the next big step in my life. At a certain meeting of the congregation, we were encouraged to enter more fully into Jehovah’s service and, if interested, to make inquiries about it. I decided to do so, and, as a result, was invited into Bethel, the Watch Tower Society’s branch office in London. I gladly accepted the invitation that year, in 1921. I was given work in the office.
BLESSINGS OF BETHEL SERVICE
Do not get the impression that Bethel life is humdrum. There is a regularity, a schedule of work and of meals, more strictly adhered to and timed than is generally experienced in most homes. However, one soon accustoms himself to this, and I have found it a great advantage, both as regards health and in getting work done. Serving Jehovah at Bethel is serving “in pleasant places” with his organization because of the manifold blessings.—Ps. 16:6.
One big advantage in Bethel life is the education and training it affords. It has always been true that in Bethel one gets the closer and more constant upbuilding counsel and good example that help so much in preparing for the ministry in all its aspects. As with many other members of the Bethel family, this has opened the way for me to visit and serve different congregations on certain weekends, also sharing in various assemblies and conventions, including the three big international gatherings at New York city, in 1950, 1953 and 1958.
Another advantage of Bethel service is the benefit and pleasure of visiting various congregations. It generally means staying in the homes of the brothers, enjoying their hospitality and pleasant fellowship and really getting to know them and making lasting friends. It is just as Jesus said: “Everyone that has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands [the good things of ordinary home life] for the sake of my name will receive many times more and will inherit everlasting life.”—Matt. 19:29.
Then, too, in Bethel itself there is the opportunity of entering into a real friendship. Maybe, like myself, some persons have what is considered the customary British reserve and are not always easy to get to know, but I can definitely say that staying in the homes of the brothers, or in a Bethel home under such an organizational arrangement, makes those relationships possible that, besides being very pleasurable, can prove to be a source of strength, helping one to keep a good balance in difficult times.
Then there is the matter of outlook. I recall very well the outlook I had in those early years before entering Bethel, in common, I think, with many others. Entering Bethel meant a broader and fuller life, and I learned how to be content and happy with having plenty to do in full-time service. We knew we had to “Advertise the King and the Kingdom,” but there was no conception then of the tremendous educational work and the ingathering of a “great crowd” of “other sheep” before Armageddon; no, not even the clear identification of such a group. Gradually, however, the curtain rose, revealing an ever-widening horizon. How did it come about?
Looking back, I can see that every time it was through the organization, through the organized “faithful and discreet slave” class, appointed over all the Lord’s belongings. (Matt. 24:45-47) I have always looked forward to the conventions, for invariably it was then that further enlightenment was given, or a further feature of Kingdom service opened up, always based on the Scriptures.
One of the most striking occasions when the voice of the organization meant a great deal to me was during the dark war years of World War II. To be living in London then was, humanly speaking, a grim experience. We did not know how long it would last or the immediate outcome. I recall that in the period of growing suspense before war broke out, with Hitler’s screaming voice relayed every now and again over the wireless, our attitude toward the people in the door-to-door work was that this was likely to be the last time around the territory and they must make up their mind what they were going to be, “sheep” or “goats.”
Yes, humanly speaking, I felt the outlook was dark and uncertain. Would it end in Armageddon? Then, with the war still on, word came through that the Society was planning to establish on “Kingdom Farm” in New York State a school for training missionaries to serve in foreign fields. That spoke volumes to me. It was the voice of hope and promise of Jehovah’s organization indicating what was ahead. It was a sudden rising of the curtain.
So figuratively and spiritually the curtain has risen, enabling me to share in the spiritual restored paradise foretold at Isaiah 55:12: “With rejoicing you people will go forth, and with peace you will be brought in. The mountains and the hills themselves will become cheerful before you with a joyful outcry, and the very trees of the field will all clap their hands.” What a pleasant position in which to be!
This spiritual paradise has been manifest in tangible ways. If I had been told in the early nineteen twenties that in forty years’ time I would be living and serving in a fine and spacious new Bethel home, well, I might well have laughed as Abraham and Sarah did when told what seemed impossible. (Gen. 17:17; 18:12) I am still working in the office, but what an office! We have a large office with windows all along one side giving a view of a wide expanse of sky and trees, with a grand old cedar close by. What a pleasant place in which to work! As our zone servant, Brother Hoffmann, said to me not long ago: “It is like living in a restored paradise.”
Then, too, I have had the same friend and roommate for the past thirty years or more, Brother Edgar Clay, whose life story you may have already read; but now we share a lovely room, a most pleasant home with a fine view facing south, and an extra window looking out to rising fields and trees and the setting sun in all its glory.
Because of heeding the voice of God’s organization, I can say, along with thousands of my Christian brothers, that, in the words of the psalmist David, “the measuring lines themselves have fallen for me in pleasant places.”—Ps. 16:6.