I will build you with stones of turquoise. (Isaiah 54:11)
The stones in the wall said, “We have come from mountains far away—from the sides of rugged cliffs. Fire and water have worked on us for ages but have only produced crevices. Yet human hands like yours have made us into homes where children of your immortal race are born, suffer, rejoice, find rest and shelter, and learn the lessons that our Maker and yours is teaching. But to come to the point of being used for this purpose, we have endured much. Dynamite has torn at our very heart, and pickaxes have broken and split us into pieces. Often as we lay disfigured and broken in the quarry, everything seemed to be without design or meaning. But gradually we were cut into blocks, and some of us were chiseled with sharper instruments until we had a fine edge. Now we are complete, are in our proper places, and are of service.
“You, however, are still in your quarry. You are not complete, and because of that, as once was the case with us, there is much you do not understand. But you are destined for a higher building, and someday you will be placed in it by angelic hands, becoming a living stone in a heavenly temple.”
In the still air the music lies unheard;
In the rough marble beauty hides unseen;
To make the music and the beauty needs
The master’s touch, the sculptor’s chisel keen.
Great Master, touch us with Your skillful hands;
Let not the music that is in us die!
Great Sculptor, hew and polish us; nor let,
Hidden and lost, Your form within us lie!
It has been granted to you . . . to suffer for him. (Philippians 1:29)
God runs a costly school, for many of His lessons are learned through tears. Richard Baxter, the seventeenth-century Puritan preacher, once said, “O God, I thank You for the discipline I have endured in this body for fifty-eight years .”And he certainly is not the only person who has turned trouble into triumph.
Soon the school of our heavenly Father will close for us, for the end of the school term is closer every day. May we never run from a difficult lesson or flinch from the rod of discipline. Richer will be our crown, and sweeter will heaven be, if we cheerfully endure to the end. Then we will graduate in glory. Theodore L. Cuyler
The world’s finest china is fired in ovens at least three times, and some many more. Dresden china is always fired three times. Why is it forced to endure such intense heat? Shouldn’t once or twice be enough? No, it is necessary to fire the china three times so the gold, crimson, and other colors are brighter, more beautiful, and permanently attached.
We are fashioned after the same principle. The human trials of life are burned into us numerous times, and through God’s grace, beautiful colors are formed in us and made to shine forever. Cortland Myers
Earth’s fairest flowers grow not on sunny plain,
But where some vast upheaval tore in twain
The smiling land.
After the whirlwind’s devastating blast,
And molten lava, fire, and ashes fall,
God’s still small voice breathes healing over all.
From broken rocks and fern-clad chasms deep,
Flow living waters as from hearts that weep,
There in the afterglow soft dews distill
And angels tend God’s plants when night falls still,
And the Beloved passing by the way
Will gather lilies at the break of day.
He saw the disciples straining at the oars. (Mark 6:48)
Straining and striving does not accomplish the work God gives us to do. Only God Himself, who always works without stress and strain and who never overworks, can do the work He assigns to His children. When we restfully trust Him to do it, the work will be completed and will be done well. And the way to let Him do His work through us is to so fully abide in Christ by faith that He fills us to overflowing.
A man who learned this secret once said, “I came to Jesus and drank, and I believe I will never be thirsty again. My life’s motto has become ‘Not overwork but overflow,’ and it has already made all the difference in my life.”
There is no straining effort in an overflowing life, and it is quietly irresistible. It is the normal life of omnipotent and ceaseless accomplishment into which Christ invites each of us to enter—today and always. from Sunday School Times
Be all at rest, my soul, O blessed secret,
Of the true life that glorifies the Lord:
Not always does the busiest soul best serve Him,
But he that rests upon His faithful Word.
Be all at rest, let not your heart be rippled,
For tiny wavelets mar the image fair,
Which the still pool reflects of heaven’s glory—
And thus the image He would have you bear.
Be all at rest, my soul, for rest is service,
To the still heart God does His secrets tell;
Thus will you learn to wait, and watch, and labor,
Strengthened to bear, since Christ in you does dwell.
For what is service but the life of Jesus,
Lived through a vessel of earth’s fragile clay,
Loving and giving and poured forth for others,
A living sacrifice from day to day.
Be all at rest, so then you’ll be an answer
To those who question, “Who is God and where?”
For God is rest, and where He dwells is stillness,
And they who dwell in Him, His rest will share.
And what will meet the deep unrest around you,
But the calm peace of God that filled His breast?
For still a living Voice calls to the weary,
From Him who said, “Come unto Me and rest.”
Freda Hanbury Allen
In Resurrection stillness there is Resurrection power.
When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have all the people give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the people will go up, every man straight in. (Joshua 6:5)
The “loud shout” of steadfast faith is the exact opposite of the groans of wavering faith and the complaints of discouraged hearts. Of all “the secret[s] of the Lord” (Ps. 25:14 KJV), I do not believe there are any more valuable than the secret of this “loud shout” of faith. “The Lord said to Joshua, ‘See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men’” (Josh. 6:2). He did not say, “I will deliver” but “I have delivered.” The victory already belonged to the children of Israel, and now they were called to take possession of it. But the big question still remaining was how. It looked impossible, but the Lord had a plan.
No one would normally believe that a shout could cause city walls to fall. Yet the secret of their victory lay precisely in just that shout, for it was the shout of faith. And it was a faith that dared to claim a promised victory solely on the basis of the authority of God’s Word,even though there were no physical signs of fulfillment. God answered His promise in response to their faith, for when they shouted, He caused the walls to fall.
God had declared, “I have delivered Jericho into your hands,” and faith believed this to be true. And many centuries later the Holy Spirit recorded this triumph of faith in the book of Hebrews as follows: “By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the people had marched around them for seven days” (Heb. 11:30). Hannah Whitall Smith
Faith can never reach its consummation,
Till the victor’s thankful song we raise:
In the glorious city of salvation,
God has told us all the gates are praise.
Blessed are all who wait for him! (Isaiah 30:18)
We often hear about waiting on God, which actually means that He is waiting until we are ready. There is another side, however. When we wait for God, we are waiting until He is ready.
Some people say, and many more believe, that as soon as we meet all His conditions, God will answer our prayer. They teach that He lives in an eternal now, that with Him there is no past or future, and that if we can fulfill all He requires to be obedient to His will, immediately our needs will be met, our desires satisfied, and our prayers answered.
While there is much truth in this belief, it expresses only one side of the truth. God does live in an eternal now, yet He works out His purposes over time. A petition presented to God is like a seed dropped into the ground. Forces above and beyond our control must work on it until the actual accomplishment of the answer. from The Still Small Voice
I longed to walk along an easy road,
And leave behind the dull routine of home,
Thinking in other fields to serve my God;
But Jesus said, “My time has not yet come.”
I longed to sow the seed in other soil,
To be unshackled in the work, and free,
To join with other laborers in their toil;
But Jesus said, “It’s not My choice for thee.
I longed to leave the desert, and be led
To work where souls were sunk in sin and shame,
That I might win them; but the Master said,
“I have not called you, publish here My name.”
I longed to fight the battles of my King,
Lift high His standards in the thickest strife;
But my great Captain had me wait and sing
Songs of His conquests in my quiet life.
I longed to leave the hard and difficult sphere,
Where all alone I seemed to stand and wait,
To feel I had some human helper near,
But Jesus had me guard one lonely gate.
I longed to leave the common daily toil,
Where no one seemed to understand or care;
But Jesus said, “I choose for you this soil,
That you might raise for Me some blossoms rare.”
And now I have no longing but to do
At home, or far away, His blessed will,
To work amid the many or the few;
Thus, “choosing not to choose,” my heart is still.
And Patience was willing to wait. from Pilgrim’s Progress
You remain. (Hebrews 1:11)
There are so many people who sit by their fireplace all alone! They sit by another chair, once filled, and cannot restrain the tears that flow. They sit alone so much, but there is someone who is unseen and just within their reach. But for some reason, they don’t realize His presence. Realizing it is blessed yet quite rare. It is dependent upon their mood, their feelings, their physical condition, and the weather. The rain or thick fog out- side, the lack of sleep and the intense pain, seem to affect their mood and blur their vision so they do not realize His presence.
There is, however, something even better than realizing, and even more blessed. It is completely independent of these other conditions and is something that will abide with you. It is this: recognizing that unseen presence, which is so wonderful, quieting, soothing, calming, and warming. So recognize the presence of the Master. He is here, close to you, and His presence is real. Recognizing will also help your ability to realize but is never dependent upon it.
Yes, there is immeasurably more—the truth is a presence, not a thing, a fact, or a statement. Some One is present, and He is a warmhearted Friend and the all-powerful Lord. This is a joyful truth for weeping hearts everywhere, no matter the reason for the tears, or whatever stream their weeping willow is planted beside. Samuel Dickey Gordon
When from my life the old-time joys have vanished,
Treasures once mine, I may no longer claim,
This truth may feed my hungry heart, and famished:
Lord, YOU REMAIN HERE! YOU are still the same!
When streams have dried, those streams of glad refreshing—
Friendships so blest, so rich, so free;
When sun-kissed skies give place to clouds depressing,
Lord, YOU REMAIN HERE! Still my heart has THEE
When strength has failed, and feet, now worn and weary,
On happy errands may no longer go,
Why should I sigh, or let the days be dreary?
Lord, YOU REMAIN HERE! Could YOU more bestow?
Thus through life’s days—whoe’er or what may fail me,
Friends, friendships, joys, in small or great degree,
Songs may be mine, no sadness need assault me,
Lord, YOU REMAIN HERE! Still my heart has THEE.
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.(Psalm 46:1)
Why didn’t God help me sooner? ”This is a question that is often asked, but it is not His will to act on your schedule. He desires to change you through the trouble and cause you to learn a lesson from it. He has promised, “I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him” (Ps. 91:15). He will be with you in trouble all day and through the night. Afterward he will take you out of it, but not until you have stopped being restless and worried over it and have become calm and quiet. Then He will say, “It is enough.”
God uses trouble to teach His children precious lessons. Difficulties are intended to educate us, and when their good work is done, a glorious reward will become ours through them. There is a sweet joy and a real value in difficulties, for He regards them not as difficulties but as opportunities. selected
Not always OUT of our troubled times,
And the struggles fierce and grim,
But IN—deeper IN—to our sure rest,
The place of our peace, in Him.
Annie Johnson Flint
I once heard the following statement from a simple old man, and I have never forgotten it: “When God tests you, it is a good time to test Him by putting His promises to the test and then claiming from Him exactly what your trials have made necessary.” There are two ways of getting out of a trial. One is simply to try to get rid of the trial, and then to be thankful when it is over. The other is to recognize the trial as a challenge from God to claim a larger blessing than we have ever before experienced, and to accept it with delight as an opportunity of receiving a greater measure of God’s divine grace.
In this way, even the Adversary becomes a help to us, and all the things that seem to be against us turn out to assist us along our way. Surely this is what is meant by the words “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Rom. 8:37). A. B. Simpson
Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress. (Psalm 4:1 KJV)
This verse is one of the greatest testimonies ever written regarding the effectiveness of God’s work on our behalf during times of crisis. It is a statement of thanksgiving for having been set free not from suffering but rather through suffering. In stating, “Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress,” the psalmist is declaring that the sorrows of life have themselves been the source of life’s enlargement.
Haven’t each of us experienced this a thousand times and found it to be true? Someone once said of Joseph that when he was in the dungeon, “iron entered his soul.” And the strength of iron is exactly what he needed, for earlier he had only experienced the glitter of gold. He had been rejoicing in youthful dreams, and dreaming actually hardens the heart. Someone who sheds great tears over a simple romance will not be of much help in a real crisis, for true sorrow will be too deep for him. We all need the iron in life to enlarge our character. The gold is simply a passing vision, whereas the iron is the true experience of life. The chain that is the common bond uniting us to others must be one of iron. The common touch of humanity that gives the world true kinship is not joy but sorrow—gold is partial to only a few, but iron is universal.
Dear soul, if you want your sympathy for others to be enlarged, you must be willing to have your life narrowed to certain degrees of suffering. Joseph’s dungeon was the very road to his throne, and he would have been unable to lift the iron load of his brothers had he not experienced the iron in his own life. Your life will be enlarged in proportion to the amount of iron you have endured, for it is in the shadows of your life that you will find the actual fulfillment of your dreams of glory. So do not complain about the shadows of darkness—in reality, they are better than your dreams could ever be. Do not say that the darkness of the prison has shackled you, for your shackles are wings—wings of flight into the heart and soul of humanity. And the gate of your prison is the gate into the heart of the universe. God has enlarged you through the suffering of sorrow’s chain. George Matheson
If Joseph had never been Egypt’s prisoner, he would have never been Egypt’s governor. The iron chain that bound his feet brought about the golden chain around his neck. selected
Some [seed] fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. (Matthew 13:5)
Shallow! From the context of the teaching of this parable, it seems that we must have something to do with the depth of the soil. The fruitful seed fell on “good soil” (v. 8), or good and honest hearts. I suppose the shallow people are those who “did not have much soil”—those who have no real purpose in life and are easily swayed by a tender appeal, a good sermon, or a simple melody. And at first it seems as if they will amount to
something for God, but because they “[do] not have much soil,” they have no depth or genuine purpose, and no earnest desire to know His will in order to do it. Therefore we should be careful to maintain the soil of our hearts.
When a Roman soldier was told by his guide that if he insisted on taking a certain journey, it would probably be fatal, he answered, “It is necessary for me to go—it is not necessary for me to live. ”That was true depth of conviction, and only when we are likewise convicted will our lives amount to something. But a shallow life lives on its impulses, impressions, intuitions, instincts, and largely on its circumstances. Those with profound character, however, look beyond all these and move steadily ahead, seeing the future, where sorrow, seeming defeat, and failure will be reversed. They sail right through storm clouds into the bright sunshine, which always awaits them on the other side.
Once God has deepened us, He can give us His deepest truths, His most profound secrets, and will trust us with greater power. Lord, lead us into the depths of Your life and save us from a shallow existence!
On to broader fields of holy vision;
On to loftier heights of faith and love;
Onward, upward, apprehending wholly,
All for which He calls you from above.
The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me. (Psalm 138:8)
There is a divine mystery in suffering, one that has a strange and supernatural power and has never been completely understood by human reason. No one has ever developed a deep level of spirituality or holiness without experiencing a great deal of suffering. When a person who suffers reaches a point where he can be calm and carefree, inwardly smiling at his own
suffering, and no longer asking God to be delivered from it, then the suffering has accomplished its blessed ministry, perseverance has “finish[ed] its work” (James 1:4), and the pain of the Crucifixion has begun to weave itself into a crown.
It is in this experience of complete suffering that the Holy Spirit works many miraculous things deep within our soul. In this condition, our entire being lies perfectly still under the hand of God; every power and ability of the mind, will, and heart are at last submissive; a quietness of eternity settles into the entire soul; and finally, the mouth becomes quiet, having only a few words to say, and stops crying out the words Christ quoted on the cross: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Ps. 22:1).
At this point the person stops imagining castles in the sky, and pursuing foolish ideas, and his reasoning becomes calm and relaxed, with all choices removed, because the only choice has now become the purpose of God. Also, his emotions are weaned away from other people and things, becoming deadened so that nothing can hurt, offend, hinder, or get in his way. He can now let the circumstances be what they may, and continue to seek only God and His will, with the calm assurance that He is causing everything in the universe, whether good or bad, past or present, to work “for the good of those who love him” (Rom. 8:28).
Oh, the blessings of absolute submission to Christ! What a blessing to lose our own strength, wisdom, plans, and desires and to be where every ounce of our being becomes like a peaceful Sea of Galilee under the omnipotent feet of Jesus! from Soul Food The main thing is to suffer without becoming discouraged. François Fénelon
The heart that serves, and loves, and clings,
Hears everywhere the rush of angel wings.
After waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised. (Hebrews 6:15)
Abraham was tested for a very long time, but he was richly rewarded. The Lord tested him by delaying the fulfillment of His promise. Satan tested him through temptation, and people tested him through their jealousy, distrust, and opposition to him. Sarah tested him through her worrisome temperament. Yet he patiently endured, not questioning God’s truthfulness and power or doubting God’s faithfulness and love. Instead, Abraham submitted to God’s divine sovereignty and infinite wisdom. And he was silent through many delays, willing to wait for the Lord’s timing. Having patiently endured, he then obtained the fulfillment of the promise.
Beloved, God’s promises can never fail to be accomplished, and those who patiently wait can never be disappointed, for believing faith leads to realization. Abraham’s life condemns a spirit of hastiness, admonishes those who complain, commends those who are patient, and encourages quiet submission to God’s will and way.
Remember, Abraham was tested but he patiently waited, ultimately received what was promised, and was satisfied. If you will imitate his example, you will share the same blessing. selected
Who is this coming up from the desert leaning on her lover? (Song of Songs 8:5)
I once learned a great lesson at a prayer meeting at a southern church. As one man prayed, he asked the Lord for various blessings, just as you or I would, and he thanked the Lord for many blessings already received, just as you or I would. But he closed his prayer with this unusual petition: “And O Lord, support us! Yes, support us on every leaning side!”
Do you have any “leaning sides”? This humble man’s prayer pictured them in a new way and illustrated the Great Supporter in a new light, as well. He saw God as always walking alongside the Christian, ready to extend His mighty arm to steady the weak on “every leaning side.”
Child of My love, lean hard,
And let Me feel the pressure of your care;
I know your burden, child. I shaped it;
Balanced it in Mine Own hand; made no proportion
In its weight to your unaided strength,
For even as I laid it on, I said,
“I will be near, and while she leans on Me,
This burden will be Mine, not hers;
So will I keep My child within the circling arms
Of My Own love.” Here lay it down, nor fear
To impose it on a shoulder that upholds
The government of worlds. Yet closer come:
You are not near enough. I would embrace your care;
So I might feel My child reclining on My breast.
You love Me, I know. So then do not doubt;
But loving Me, lean hard.
In the morning . . . come up.... Present yourself to me there on top of the mountain. (Exodus 34:2)
The “morning” is the time I have set to meet with the Lord. “Morning”—the very word itself is like a cluster of luscious grapes to crush into sacred wine for me to drink. In the morning! This is when God wants me at my best in strength and hope so that I may begin my daily climb, not in weakness but in strength. Last night I buried yesterday’s fatigue, and this morning I took on a new supply of energy. Blessed is the day when the morning is sanctified—set apart to God! Successful is the day when the first victory is won in prayer! Holy is the day when the dawn finds me on the mountaintop with God!
Dear Father, I am coming to meet with You. Nothing on the common, everyday plain of life will keep me away from Your holy heights. At Your calling I come, so I have the assurance that You will meet with me. Each morning begun so well on the mountain will make me strong and glad the rest of the day! Joseph Parker
Still, still with You, when the purple morning breaks,
When the birds awake, and the shadows flee;
Fairer than morning, lovelier than daylight,
Dawns the sweet consciousness, I am with Thee.
Alone with You, amid the misty shadows,
The solemn hush of nature newly born;
Alone with You in breathless adoration,
In the calm dew and freshness of the morn.
As in a sunrise o’er a waveless ocean,
The image of the morning star does rest,
So in this stillness, You discerning only
Your image in the waters of my breast.
When sinks the soul, subdued by toil, to slumber,
Its closing eyes look up to You in prayer;
Sweet the repose, beneath Your wings o’ershadowing,
But sweeter still to wake and find You there.
Harriet Beecher Stowe
My mother made it a habit every day, immediately after breakfast, to spend an hour in her room, reading the Bible, meditating over it, and praying to the Lord. That hour was like a blessed fountain from which she drew the strength and sweetness that prepared her to complete all her tasks. It also enabled her to maintain a genuine peacefulness in spite of the normal trying worries and pettiness that so often accompany life in a crowded neighborhood.
As I think of her life and all that she had to endure, I see the absolute triumph of the grace of God in the ideal Christian lady. She was such a lovely person that I never saw her lose
her temper or speak even one word in anger. I never heard her participate in idle gossip or make a disparaging remark about another person. In fact, I never saw in her even the hint of an emotion unbecoming to someone who had drunk from “the river of the water of life” (Rev. 22:1) and who had eaten of “the living bread that came down from heaven” (John 6:51). Frederick William Farrar
Give God the fresh blossom of the day. Never make Him wait until the petals have faded.
If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. (Mark 8:34)
The cross that my Lord calls me to carry may assume many different shapes. I may have to be content with mundane tasks in a limited area of service, when I may believe my abilities are suited for much greater work. I may be required to continually cultivate the same field year after year, even though it yields no harvest whatsoever. I may be asked of God to nurture kind and loving thoughts about the very person who has wronged me and to speak gently to him, take his side when others oppose him, and bestow sympathy and comfort to him. I may have to openly testify of my Master before those who do not want to be reminded of Him or His claims. And I may be called to walk through this world with a bright, smiling face while my heart is breaking.
Yes, there are many crosses, and every one of them is heavy and painful. And it is unlikely that I would seek out even one of them on my own. Yet Jesus is never as near to me as when I lift my cross, lay it submissively on my shoulder, and welcome it with a patient and uncomplaining spirit.
He draws close to me in order to mature my wisdom, deep- en my peace, increase my courage, and supplement my power. All this He does so that through the very experience that is so painful and distressing to me, I will be of greater use to others.
And then I will echo these words of one of the Scottish Covenantors of the seventeenth century, imprisoned for his faith by John Graham of Claverhouse—“I grow under the load.” Alexander Smellie
Use the cross you bear as a crutch to help you on your way,
not as a stumbling block that causes you to fall.
You may others from sadness to gladness beguile,
If you carry your cross with a smile
Awake, north wind, and come, south wind! Blow on my garden, that its fragrance may spread abroad. (Song of Songs 4:16)
Some of the spices and plants mentioned in verse 14 of the above chapter are very descriptive and symbolic. The juice of the aloe plant has a bitter taste but is soothing when applied to the skin, so it tells us of the sweetness of bitter things, the bittersweet, having an important application that only those who have used it will understand. Myrrh is symbolic of death, having been used to embalm the dead. It represents the sweetness that comes to the heart after it has died to self-will, pride, and sin.
What inexpressible charm seems to encircle some Christians, simply because they carry upon their pure countenance and gentle spirit the imprint of the cross! It is the holy evidence of having died to something that was once proud and strong but is now forever surrendered at the feet of Jesus. And it is also the heavenly charm of a broken spirit and a contrite heart, the beautiful music that rises from a minor key, and the sweetness brought about by the touch of frost on ripened fruit.
Finally, frankincense was a fragrance that arose only after being touched with fire. The burning incense became clouds of sweetness arising from the heart of the flames. It symbolizes a person’s heart whose sweetness has been brought forth by the flames of affliction until the holy, innermost part of the soul is filled with clouds of praise and prayer.
Beloved, are our lives yielding spices and perfumes—sweet fragrances of the heart? from The Love-Life of Our Lord
A Persian fable says: One day
A wanderer found a lump of clay
So savory of sweet perfume
Its odors scented all the room.
“What are you?” was his quick demand,
“Are you some gem from Samarkand,
Or pure nard in this plain disguise,
Or other costly merchandise?”
“No, I am but a lump of clay.”
“Then whence this wondrous perfume—say!”
“Friend, if the secret I disclose,
I have been dwelling with the rose.”
Sweet parable! and will not those
Who love to dwell with Sharon’s rose,
Distill sweet odors all around,
Though low and poor themselves are found?
Dear Lord, abide with us that we
May draw our perfume fresh from Thee.
Hide in the Kerith Ravine. (1 Kings 17:3)
God’s servants must be taught the value of the hidden side of life. The person who is to serve in a lofty place before others must also assume a lowly place before his God. We should not be surprised if God occasionally says to us, “Dear child, you have had enough of this hurried pace, excitement, and publicity. Now I want you to go and hide yourself ‘hide in the Kerith Ravine’ of sickness, the ‘Kerith Ravine’ of sorrow, or some place of total solitude, from which the crowds have turned away.” And happy is the person who can reply to the Lord, “Your will is also mine. Therefore I run to hide myself in You. ‘I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings’ [Ps. 61:4].”
Every saintly soul that desires to wield great influence over others must first win the power in some hidden “Kerith Ravine. ”Acquiring spiritual power is impossible unless we hide from others and ourselves in some deep ravine where we may absorb the power of the eternal God. May our lives be like the vegetation centuries ago that absorbed the power of the sun- shine and now gives the energy back after having become coal.
Lancelot Andrews, a bishop of the Church of England and one of the translators of the King James Bible of 1611, experienced his “Kerith Ravine,” in which he spent five hours of every day in prayer and devotion to God. John Welsh, a contemporary of Andrews, and a Presbyterian who was imprisoned for his faith by James VI of Scotland, also had his “ravine.” He believed his day to be wasted if he did not spend eight to ten hours of isolated communion with God. David Brainerd’s “ravine” was the forests of North America while he served as a pioneer missionary to the American Indians during the eighteenth century. And Christmas Evans, a preacher of the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries, had his long and lonely journeys through the hills of Wales.
Looking back to the blessed age from which we date the centuries, there are many notable “ravines. ”The Isle of Patmos, the solitude of the Roman prisons, the Arabian Desert, and the hills and valleys of Palestine are all as enduringly memorable as those experienced by the people who have shaped our modern world.
Our Lord Himself lived through His “Kerith Ravine” in Nazareth, in the wilderness of Judea, amid the olive trees of Bethany, and in the solitude of the city of Gadara. So none of us is exempt from a “ravine” experience, where the sounds of human voices are exchanged for the waters of quietness that flow from the throne of God, and where we taste the sweetness and soak up the power of a life “hidden with Christ” (Col. 3:3). From Elijah, by F. B. Meyer
He is the Lord; let him do what is good in his eyes. (1 Samuel 3:18)
If I see God in everything, He will calm and color everything I see! Perhaps the circumstances causing my sorrows will not be removed and my situation will remain the same, but if Christ is brought into my grief and gloom as my Lord and Master, He will “surround me with songs of deliverance” (Ps. 32:7).To see Him and to be sure that His wisdom and power never fail and His love never changes, to know that even His most distressing dealings with me are for my deepest spiritual gain, is to be able to say in the midst of bereavement, sorrow, pain, and loss ,“The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised” (Job 1:21).
Seeing God in everything is the only thing that will make me loving and patient with people who annoy and trouble me. Then I will see others as the instruments God uses to accomplish His tender and wise purpose for me, and I will even find myself inwardly thanking them for the blessing they have become to me. Nothing but seeing God will completely put an end to all complaining and thoughts of rebellion. Hannah Whitall Smith
“Give me a new idea,” I said,
While thinking on a sleepless bed;
“A new idea that’ll bring to earth
A balm for souls of priceless worth;
That’ll give men thoughts of things above,
And teach them how to serve and love,
That’ll banish every selfish thought,
And rid men of the sins they’ve fought.”
The new thought came, just how, I’ll tell: ’
Twas when on bended knee I fell,
And sought from HIM who knows full well
The way our sorrow to expel.
SEE GOD IN ALL THINGS, great and small,
And give HIM praise whate’er befall,
In life or death, in pain or woe,
See God, and overcome your foe.
I saw HIM in the morning light,
HE made the day shine clear and bright;
I saw HIM in the noontide hour,
And gained from HIM refreshing shower.
At evening, when worn and sad,
HE gave me help, and made me glad.
At midnight, when on tossing bed
My weary soul to sleep HE led.
I saw HIM when great losses came,
And found HE loved me just the same.
When heavy loads I had to bear,
I found HE lightened every care.
By sickness, sorrow, sore distress,
HE calmed my mind and gave me rest.
HE’S filled my heart with joyous praise
Since I gave HIM the upward gaze.’Twas new to me, yet old to some,
This thought that to me has become
A revelation of the way
We all should live throughout the day;
For as each day unfolds its light,
We’ll walk by faith and not by sight.
Life will, indeed, a blessing bring,
If we SEE GOD IN EVERYTHING.
Where there is no vision, the people perish. (Proverbs 29:18 KJV)
Waiting upon God is vital in order to see Him and receive a vision from Him. And the amount of time spent before Him is also critical, for our hearts are like a photographer’s film—the longer exposed, the deeper the impression. For God’s vision to be impressed on our hearts, we must sit in stillness at His feet for quite a long time. Remember, the troubled surface of a lake will not reflect an image.
Yes, our lives must be quiet and peaceful if we expect to see God. And the vision we see from Him has the power to affect our lives in the same way a lovely sunset brings peace to a troubled heart. Seeing God always transforms human life.
Jacob “crossed the ford of the Jabbok” (Gen. 32:22), saw God, and became Israel. Seeing a vision of God transformed Gideon from a coward into a courageous soldier. And Thomas, after seeing Christ, was changed from a doubting follower into a loyal, devoted disciple.
People since Bible times have also had visions of God. William Carey, English pioneer missionary of the eighteenth century who is considered by some to be the Father of Modern Missions, saw God and left his shoemaker’s bench to go to India. David Livingstone saw God and left everything in Britain behind to become a missionary and explorer, following the Lord’s leading through the thickest jungles of Africa during the nineteenth century. And literally thousands more have since had visions of God and today are serving Him in the uttermost parts of the earth, seeking the timely evangelization of the lost. Dr. Pardington
It is very unusual for there to be complete quiet in the soul, for God almost continually whispers to us. And whenever the sounds of the world subside in our soul, we hear the whispering of God. Yes, he continues to whisper to us, but we often do not hear Him because of the noise and distractions caused by the hurried pace of our life. Frederick William Faber
Speak, Lord, in the stillness,
While I wait on Thee;
Hushing my heart to listen
Speak, O blessed Master,
In this quiet hour;
Let me see Your face, Lord,
Feel Your touch of power.
For the words that You speak,
“They are life,” indeed;
Living bread from Heaven,
Now my spirit feed!
Speak, Your servant hears You!
Be not silent, Lord;
My soul on You does wait
For Your life-giving word!
My Father is the gardener. (John 15:1)
It is a comforting thought that trouble, in whatever form it comes to us, is a heavenly messenger that brings us something from God. Outwardly it may appear painful or even destructive, but inwardly its spiritual work produces blessings. Many of the richest blessings we have inherited are the fruit of sorrow or pain. We should never forget that redemption, the world’s greatest blessing, is the fruit of the world’s greatest sorrow. And whenever a time of deep pruning comes and the knife cuts deeply and the pain is severe, what an inexpressible comfort it is to know: “My Father is the gardener.”
John Vincent, a Methodist Episcopal bishop of the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries and a leader of the Sunday school movement in America, once told of being in a large greenhouse where clusters of luscious grapes were hanging on each side. The owner of the greenhouse told him, “When the new gardener came here, he said he would not work with the vines unless he could cut them completely down to the stalk. I allowed him to do so, and we had no grapes for two years, but this is now the result.”
There is rich symbolism in this account of the pruning process when applied to the Christian life. Pruning seems to be destroying the vine, and the gardener appears to be cutting everything away. Yet he sees the future and knows that the final result will be the enrichment of the life of the vine, and a greater abundance of fruit.
There are many blessings we will never receive until we are ready to pay the price of pain, for the path of suffering is the only way to reach them. J. R. Miller
I walked a mile with Pleasure,
She chattered all the way;
But left me none the wiser
For all she had to say.
I walked a mile with Sorrow,
And ne’er a word said she;
But oh, the things I learned from her
When Sorrow walked with me.
Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God? (John 11:40)
Mary and Martha could not understand what their Lord was doing. Each of them had said to Him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” (vv. 21, 32). And behind their words we seem to read their true thoughts: “Lord, we do not understand why you waited so long to come or how you could allow the man you love so much to die. We do not understand how you could allow such sorrow and suffering to devastate our lives, when your presence might have stopped it all. Why didn’t you come? Now it’s too late, because Lazarus has been dead four days!” But Jesus simply had one great truth in answer to all of this. He said, in essence, “You may not understand, but I am telling you that if you believe, you will see.”
Abraham could not understand why God would ask him to sacrifice his son, but he trusted Him. Then he saw the Lord’s glory when the son he loved was restored to him. Moses could not understand why God would require him to stay forty years in the wilderness, but he also trusted Him. Then he saw when God called him to lead Israel from Egyptian bondage.
Joseph could not understand his brothers’ cruelty toward him, the false testimony of a treacherous woman, or the long years of unjust imprisonment, but he trusted God and finally he saw His glory in it all. And Joseph’s father, Jacob, could not understand how God’s strange providence could allow Joseph to be taken from him. Yet later he saw the Lord’s glory when he looked into the face of his son, who had become the governor for a great king and the person used to preserve his own life and the lives of an entire nation.
Perhaps there is also something in your life causing you to question God. Do you find yourself saying, “I do not understand why God allowed my loved one to be taken. I do not understand why affliction has been permitted to strike me. I do not understand why the Lord has led me down these twisting paths. I do not understand why my own plans, which seemed so good, have been so disappointing. I do not understand why the blessings I so desperately need are so long in coming.”
Dear friend, you do not have to understand all God’s ways of dealing with you. He does not expect you to understand them. You do not expect your children to understand everything you do—you simply want them to trust you. And someday you too will see the glory of God in the things you do not understand. J. H. M.
If we could push ajar the gates of life,
And stand within, and all God’s working see,
We might interpret all this doubt and strife,
And for each mystery could find a key.
But not today. Then be content, dear heart;
God’s plans, like lilies pure and white, unfold.
We must not tear the close-shut leaves apart—
Time will someday reveal the blooms of gold.
And if, through patient toil, we reach the land
Where tired feet, with sandals loosed, may rest,
When we shall clearly know and understand,
I think that we will say, “God knew best.”
I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. (Philippians 3:8)
The autumn season we are now entering is one of cornfields ripe for harvest, of the cheerful song of those who reap the crops, and of gathered and securely stored grain. So allow me to draw your attention to the sermon of the fields. This is its solemn message: “You must die in order to live. You must refuse to consider your own comfort and well-being. You must be crucified, not only to your desires and habits that are obviously sinful but also to many others that may appear to be innocent and right. If you desire to save others, you cannot save your- self, and if you desire to bear much fruit, you must be buried in darkness and solitude.”
My heart fails me as I listen. But when the words are from Jesus, may I remind myself that it is my great privilege to enter into “the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings” (Phil. 3:10) and I am therefore in great company. May I also remind myself that all the suffering is designed to make me a vessel suitable for His use. And may I remember that His Calvary blossomed into abundant fruitfulness, and so will mine.
Pain leads to plenty, and death to life—it is the law of the kingdom! from In the Hour of Silence
Do we call it dying when a bud blossoms into a flower? selected
Finding, following, keeping, struggling,
Is He sure to bless?
Saints, apostles, prophets, martyrs,
Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. (Luke 22:31–32)
Our faith is the center of the target God aims at when He tests us, and if any gift escapes untested, it certainly will not be our faith. There is nothing that pierces faith to its very marrow— to find whether or not it is the faith of those who are immortal—like shooting the arrow of the feeling of being deserted into it. And only genuine faith will escape unharmed from the midst of the battle after having been stripped of its armor of earthly enjoyment and after having endured the circumstances coming against it that the powerful hand of God has allowed.
Faith must be tested, and the sense of feeling deserted is “the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual” (Dan. 3:19) into which it may be thrown. Blessed is the person who endures such an ordeal! Charles H. Spurgeon
Paul said, “I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7), but his head was removed!! They cut it off, but they could not touch his faith. This great apostle to the Gentiles rejoiced in three things: he had “fought the good fight,” he had “finished the race,” and he had “kept the faith.” So what was the value of everything else? The apostle Paul had won the race and gained the ultimate
prize—he had won not only the admiration of those on earth today but also the admiration of heaven. So why do we not live as if it pays to lose “all things . . . that [we] may gain Christ” (Phil. 3:8)? Why are we not as loyal to the truth as Paul was? It is because our math is different—he counted in a different way than we do. What we count as gain, he counted as loss. If we desire to ultimately wear the same crown, we must have his faith and live it.
Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him. (John 7:38)
Some of us are troubled, wondering why the Holy Spirit doesn’t fill us. The problem is that we have plenty coming in but we are not giving out to others. If you will give the blessing you have received, planning your life around greater service and being a blessing to those around you, then you will quickly find that the Holy Spirit is with you. He will bestow blessings to you for service, giving you all He can trust you to give away to others.
No music is as heavenly as that made by an aeolian harp. It is a beautiful occurrence of nature, but it has a spiritual parallel. The harp is nothing but a wooden box with strings arranged in harmony, waiting to be touched by the unseen fingers of the wandering wind. As the breath of heaven floats over the strings, notes that are nearly divine float upon the air, as if a choir of angels were wandering about and touching the strings.
In the same way, it is possible to keep our hearts so open to the touch of the Holy Spirit that He may play them as He chooses, while we quietly wait on the pathway of His service. from Days of Heaven upon Earth
When the apostles “were filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:4), they did not lease the Upper Room and stay there to hold holiness meetings. They went everywhere, preaching the gospel. Will Huff
“If I have eaten my morsel alone,”
The patriarch spoke with scorn;
What would he think of the Church were he shown
Godless, Christless, with soul unfed,
While the Church’s ailment is fullness of bread,
Eating her morsel alone?
“Freely you have received, so give,”
He says, who has given us all.
How will the soul in us longer live
Deaf to their starving call,
For whom the blood of the Lord was shed,
And His body broken to give them bread,
If we eat our morsel alone!
Archbishop William Alexander
Where is your brother Abel? Genesis 4:9
When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. (Acts 16:7)
What a strange thing for the Lord to prohibit, for they were going into Bithynia to do Christ’s work! And the door was shut before them by Christ’s own Spirit.
There have been times when I have experienced the same thing. Sometimes I have been interrupted in what seemed to be quite productive work. And at times, opposition came and forced me to go back, or sickness came and forced me to rest in some isolated place.
During such times, it was difficult for me to leave my work unfinished when I believed it was service done in the power of His Spirit. But I finally remembered that the Spirit requires not only a service of work but also a service of waiting. I came to see that in the kingdom of Christ, there are not only times for action but times to refrain from action. And I also came to learn that a place of isolation is often the most useful place of all in this diverse world. Its harvest is more rich than the seasons when the corn and wine were the most abundant. So I have learned to thank the blessed Holy Spirit that many a beautiful Bithynia had to be left without a visit from me.
Dear Holy Spirit, my desire is still to be led by You. Nevertheless, my opportunities for usefulness seem to be disappointed, for today the door appears open into a life of service for You but tomorrow it closes before me just as I am about to enter. Teach me to see another door even in the midst of the inaction of this time. Help me to find, even in the area of service where You have closed a door, a new entrance into Your service. Inspire me with the knowledge that a person may sometimes be called to serve by doing nothing, by staying still, or by waiting. And when I remember the power of Your “gentle whisper” (1 Kings 19:12), I will not complain that sometimes the Spirit allows me not to go. George Matheson
When I cannot understand my Father’s leading,
And it seems to be but hard and cruel fate,
Still I hear that gentle whisper ever pleading,
God is working, God is faithful, ONLY WAIT.
Why must I go about mourning? (Psalm 42:9)
Dear believer, can you answer the above question? Can you find any reason why you are so often mourning instead of rejoicing? Why do you allow your mind to dwell on gloomy thoughts? Who told you that night will never end in day? Who told you that the winter of your discontent would continue from frost to frost and from snow, ice, and hail to even deeper snow and stronger storms of despair?
Don’t you know that day dawns after night, showers displace drought, and spring and summer follow winter? Then, have hope! Hope forever, for God will not fail you! Charles H. Spurgeon
He was better to me than all my hopes;
He was better than all my fears;
He made a bridge of my broken works,
And a rainbow of my tears.
The stormy waves that marked my ocean path,
Did carry my Lord on their crest;
When I dwell on the days of my wilderness march
I can lean on His love for the rest.
He emptied my hands of my treasured store,
And His covenant love revealed,
There was not a wound in my aching heart,
The balm of His breath has not healed.
Oh, tender and true was His discipline sore,
In wisdom, that taught and tried,
Till the soul that He sought was trusting in Him,
And nothing on earth beside.
He guided my paths that I could not see,
By ways that I have not known;
The crooked was straight, and the rough was plain
As I followed the Lord alone.
I praise Him still for the pleasant palms,
And the desert streams by the way,
For the glowing pillar of flame by night,
And the sheltering cloud by day.
Never a time on the dreariest day,
But some promise of love endears;
I read from the past, that my future will be
Far better than all my fears.
Like the golden jar, of the wilderness bread,
Stored up with the blossoming rod,
All safe in the ark, with the law of the Lord,
Is the covenant care of my God.
We live by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7)
As believers, “we live by faith, not by sight”—God never wants us to live by our feelings. Our inner self may want to live by feelings, and Satan may want us to, but God wants us to face the facts, not feelings. He wants us to face the facts of Christ and His finished and perfect work for us. And once we face these precious facts, and believe them simply because God says they are facts, He will take care of our feelings.
Yet God never gives us feelings to enable or encourage us to trust Him, and He never gives them to show us that we have already completely trusted Him. God only gives us feelings when He sees that we trust Him apart from our feelings, resting solely on His Word and His faithfulness to His promise. And these feelings that can only come from Him will be given at such a time and to such a degree as His love sees best for each individual circumstance.
Therefore we must choose between facing our feelings or facing the facts of God. Our feelings may be as uncertain and changing as the sea or shifting sand. God’s facts, however, are as certain as the Rock of Ages Himself—“Jesus Christ . . . the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb. 13:8).
When darkness veils His lovely face
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every strong and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.
I have found a ransom for him. (Job 33:24)
Divine healing is actually divine life. It is the lordship of Christ over the body—or the life of Christ in the framework of the human body. It is the union of the parts of our bodies with His very body, exhibiting His life flowing throughout our bodies. It is as real as His risen and glorified body. And it is as reasonable as the fact that He was raised from the dead, is a living person with an actual body, and sits today as an understanding soul at God’s right hand.
That same Christ, with all His attributes and mighty power, belongs to us. We are members of His body, His flesh, and His bones, and if we will only believe this and receive it, we may actually draw our life from the very life of the Son of God.
Dear God, help me to know and to live this verse: “The body is . . . for the Lord, and the Lord for the body” (1 Cor. 6:13). A. B. Simpson
“The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save” (Zeph. 3:17).This was the verse that initially brought the truth of divine healing to my mind and my worn-out body more than twenty years ago. It is now a door more wide open than ever and is the gate through which the living Christ enters moment by moment into my redeemed body. He enters to fill, energize, and vitalize me with the presence and power of His own personality, transforming my entire being into “a new heaven and a new earth” (Rev. 21:1).
Another verse reads, “The Lord your God” (Luke 10:27). If the Lord is my God, then all that is in almighty God is mine. It all resides within me to the extent that I am willing and able to appropriate Him and all that belongs to Him. “God, whose name is the Lord Almighty” (Jer. 32:18), is indeed the all mighty God and is my inside God. Just as the sun is the center of our solar system, He is centered within me, living as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He is the great generator of the power plant at the center of my threefold being, working in the midst of my physical being, including my brain and other parts of my nervous system.
For twenty-one years this truth not only has been a living reality to me but has grown deeper and richer. Now, at the age of seventy, I am in every way a much younger and stronger person than I was at thirty. Today I live using God’s strength, accomplishing fully twice as much mentally and physically as I ever did in the past, yet with only half the effort. My physical, mental, and spiritual life is like an artesian well—always full and overflowing. Speaking, teaching, and traveling by day or by night through sudden and violent changes in weather or climate is of no more effort to me than it is for the wheels of an engine to turn when the pressure of the steam is at full force or than it is for a pipe to let water run through it.
My body, soul, and spirit thus redeemed,
Sanctified and healed I give, O Lord, to Thee,
A consecrated offering Yours evermore to be.
That all my powers with all their might
In Your sole glory may unite—Hallelujah!
In me . . . peace. (John 16:33)
There is a vast difference between pleasure and blessedness. Paul experienced imprisonment, pain, sacrifice, and suffering to their very limits, yet through it all he was blessed. All the beatitudes became real in his heart and life, in the midst of his difficult circumstances.
Paganini, the great Italian violinist, once stepped onstage only to discover there was something wrong with his violin, just as the audience was ending their applause. He looked at the instrument for a moment and suddenly realized it was not his best and most valuable one. In fact, the violin was not his at all. Momentarily he felt paralyzed, but he quickly turned to his audience, telling them there had been some mistake and he did not have his own violin. He stepped back behind the curtain, thinking he must have left it backstage, but discovered that someone had stolen his and left the inferior one in its place.
After remaining behind the curtain for a moment, Paganini stepped onstage again to speak to the audience. He said, “Ladies and Gentlemen, I will now demonstrate to you that the music is not in the instrument but in the soul.” Then he played as never before, and beautiful music flowed from that inferior instrument until the audience was so enraptured that their enthusiastic applause nearly lifted the ceiling of the concert hall. He had indeed revealed to them that the music was not in his instrument but in his own soul!
Dear tested and tried believer, it is your mission to walk onto the stage of this world in order to reveal to all of heaven and earth that the music of life lies not in your circumstances or external things but in your own soul.
If peace be in your heart,
The wildest winter storm is full of solemn beauty,
The midnight flash but shows your path of duty,
Each living creature tells some new and joyous story,
The very trees and stones all catch a ray of glory,
If peace be in your heart.
Charles Francis Richardson
I am a man of prayer. (Psalm 109:4)
All too often we are in a “holy” hurry in our devotional time. How much actual time do we spend in quiet devotion on a daily basis? Can it be easily measured in minutes? Can you think of even one person of great spiritual stature who did not spend much of his time in prayer? Has anyone ever exhibited much of the spirit of prayer who did not devote a great deal of time to prayer?
George Whitefield, the English preacher who was one of the leading figures in the eighteenth-century American revival known as the Great Awakening, once said, “I have spent entire days and weeks lying prostrate on the ground, engaged in silent or spoken prayer. ”And the words of another person, whose life confirmed his own assertion, were these: “Fall to your knees and grow there.”
It has been said that no great work of literature or science has ever been produced by someone who did not love solitude. It is also a fundamental principle of faith that no tremendous growth in holiness has ever been achieved by anyone who has not taken the time frequently, and for long periods, to be alone with God. from The Still Hour
“Come, come,” He calls you, “O soul oppressed and weary,
Come to the shadows of My desert rest;
Come walk with Me far from life’s noisy discords,
And peace will breathe like music in your breast.”
He guarded him . . . like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them on its pinions. The Lord alone led him; no foreign god was with him. (Deuteronomy 32:10–12)
Our almighty God is like a parent who delights in leading the tender children in His care to the very edge of a precipice and then shoving them off the cliff into nothing but air. He does this so they may learn that they already possess an as-yet-unrealized power of flight that can forever add to the pleasure and comfort of their lives. Yet if, in their attempt to fly, they are exposed to some extraordinary peril, He is prepared to swoop beneath them and carry them skyward on His mighty wings. When God brings any of His children into a position of unparalleled difficulty, they may always count on Him to deliver them. from The Song of Victory
When God places a burden upon you, He places His arms underneath you.
There once was a little plant that was small and whose growth was stunted, for it lived under the shade of a giant oak tree. The little plant valued the shade that covered it and highly regarded the quiet rest that its noble friend provided. Yet there was a greater blessing prepared for this little plant.
One day a woodsman entered the forest with a sharp ax and felled the giant oak. The little plant began to weep, crying out, “My shelter has been taken away. Now every fierce wind will blow on me, and every storm will seek to uproot me!”
The guardian angel of the little plant responded, “No! Now the sun will shine and showers will fall on you more abundantly than ever before. Now your stunted form will spring up into loveliness, and your flowers, which could never have grown to full perfection in the shade, will laugh in the sunshine. And people in amazement will say, ‘Look how that plant has grown! How gloriously beautiful it has become by removing that which was its shade and its delight!’”
Dear believer, do you understand that God may take away your comforts and privileges in order to make you a stronger Christian? Do you see why the Lord always trains His soldiers not by allowing them to lie on beds of ease but by calling them to difficult marches and service? He makes them wade through streams, swim across rivers, climb steep mountains, and walk many long marches carrying heavy backpacks of sorrow. This is how He develops soldiers—not by dressing them up in fine uniforms to strut at the gates of the barracks or to appear as handsome gentlemen to those who are strolling through the park. No, God knows that soldiers can only be made in battle and are not developed in times of peace. We may be able to grow the raw materials of which soldiers are made, but turning them into true warriors requires the education brought about by the smell of gunpowder and by fighting in the midst of flying bullets and exploding bombs, not by living through pleasant and peaceful times.
So, dear Christian, could this account for your situation? Is the Lord uncovering your gifts and causing them to grow? Is He developing in you the qualities of a soldier by shoving you into the heat of the battle? Should you not then use every gift and weapon He has given you to become a conqueror? Charles H. Spurgeon