The word "zeal" used in the Bible can mean "fervent," but the literal meaning is to "be hot," even to "boil."
When you have that kind of faith, you can't sit still. As I read his biography, Hudson Tayler strikes me as someone who embodied zeal.
On the boat going over to China, he and his fellow missionaries pray day and night-not only for the Chinese, but for the shipmates. "Soul-winning" is always in their thoughts and hearts.
The book details the conversion of one of the shipmates.
"Had a special prayer-meeting for the conversion of Mr. Brunton is the entry in Mr.Taylor's journal for August 3.
And the following morning: Could not retire without seeing Mr.Brunton. Read to him at 12:30, when he came from his midnight watch, part of Mackintosh on Exodus xii. (the Passover). After much conversation and prayer, the Lord brought him into liberty."
In the own words of one of those present, more details on what happened:
By the first week in August, matters came to a climax, and it was felt that if he were to be saved it must be at once. He was wretched...it seemed a life and death question. The enemy was determined not to let him go, and the struggle was fearful. On the night of the 3rd his watch ended at twelve o'clock, Mr. Taylor went just after and had a long conversation with him, those who were up retiring to the stern-cabin for prayer. When Mr. Taylor came down and the answer had not yet been given, he and another continued in prayer till three o'clock. The Bible Class next day was turned into a prayer-meeting, another special meeting was called in the forenoon; and a third would have been held later, but bad weather prevented it. God, however, knew the longing of our hearts, and took the work into His own hands. Mr. Taylor again met Mr. Brunton at midnight, in his cabin; and while he was explaining to him the passage, 'When I see the blood, I will pass over you,' light broke! He saw the plan of salvation; peace and joy took possession of his heart; and he at once poured out his soul to God in praise and prayer-remembering us each one by name, all who were unsaved on board, and his own wife and children." (Hudson Taylor and the China Inland Mission, pp.75-76)
How often do we really contend in prayer for specific people to be saved? How often do we look around as we're walking down the street, riding the bus, sitting in the waiting room...and think, here are people that need the Lord, in whose hearts a spiritual battle is raging even now? It sounds extreme, but when one gets to the point of boiling, perhaps it's hard to avoid extreme measures. At least, it should be that way.
I find it beautiful that the man's heart was convicted by the message of the Passover; by the blood of the Lamb. Yes, God's plan was revealed even then.