Saturday, October 30, 2010

I miss...


I mean, real blogging where I share thoughts and studies of Bible passages and various Biblical topics. And, well, to be quite honest, I just miss rambling on my page, even if no one ever reads it.
There's a verse that has been following me around lately...

In every thing {all things, whatsoever} give thanks: for this is the will {choice, desire, pleasure} of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
~ 1 Thessalonians 5:18

It's not easy walking through a busy season of college and trials of various kinds. But in standing in the strength of One who is all-sufficient, I'm learning what it means to rejoice deeply even when the load becomes heavy, or when things aren't as they ought to be and you're kept within a season of waiting upon God for His victory to shine through.
I read a quote this past week that reminded me of the kind of woman I long to be in Christ....

"Young women, may your beauty fade in the physical and increase in the spiritual as you sacrifice life and limb for Christ." ~Paul Washer

I can't honestly say I'm currently sacrificing life and limb for Christ. However, I pray that I'm obedient to Him now in the little that He has entrusted to me. It feels heavy some days, but that's only when I begin to allow self to speak instead of His living Word. I remember when Eric Ludy spoke about the "tensile strength" of soul while I was at Ellerslie this summer. He taught about the ways that the Lord builds us in the little things, in preparation for the work that He has set aside for us in the future. Will we be obedient in the "insignificant" aspects of our daily life (yes, even the frustrating parts)? Ah, Lord, only You can make me obedient.

God makes the saints' maladies their medicines. ~ Thomas Watson

The steps of a man are established by the LORD, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the LORD upholds his hand. ~ Psalm 37:23-24

And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you.
~ Psalm 39:7

O for grace to love Him more!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The lone pilgrim

Most of the world's great souls have been lonely. Loneliness seems to be one price the saint must pay for his saintliness.

In the morning of the world (or should we say, in that strange darkness that came soon after the dawn of man's creation), that pious soul, Enoch, walked with God and was not, for God took him; and while it is not stated in so many words, a fair inference is that Enoch walked a path quite apart from his contemporaries.

Another lonely man was Noah who, of all the antediluvians, found grace in the sight of God; and every shred of evidence points to the aloneness of his life even while surrounded by his people.

Again, Abraham had Sarah and Lot, as well as many servants and herdsmen, but who can read his story and the apostolic comment upon it without sensing instantly that he was a man "whose soul was alike a star and dwelt apart"? As far as we know not one word did God ever speak to him in the company of men. Face down he communed with his God, and the innate dignity of the man forbade that he assume this posture in the presence of others. How sweet and solemn was the scene that night of the sacrifice when he saw the lamps of fire moving between the pieces of offering. There, alone with a horror of great darkness upon him, he heard the voice of God and knew that he was a man marked for divine favor.

Moses also was a man apart. While yet attached to the court of Pharaoh he took long walks alone, and during one of these walks while far removed from the crowds he saw an Egyptian and a Hebrew fighting and came to the rescue of his countryman. After the resultant break with Egypt he dwelt in almost complete seclusion in the desert. There, while he watched his sheep alone, the wonder of the burning bush appeared to him, and later on the peak of Sinai he crouched alone to gaze in fascinated awe at the Presence, partly hidden, partly disclosed, within the cloud and fire.

The prophets of pre-Christian times differed widely from each other, but one mark they bore in common was their enforced loneliness. They loved their people and gloried in the religion of the fathers, but their loyalty to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and their zeal for the welfare of the nation of Israel drove them away from the crowd and into long periods of heaviness. "I am become a stranger unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother's children," cried one and unwittingly spoke for all the rest.

Most revealing of all is the sight of that One of whom Moses and all the prophets did write, treading His lonely way to the cross. His deep loneliness was unrelieved by the presence of the multitudes.

He died alone in the darkness hidden from the sight of mortal man and no one saw Him when He arose triumphant and walked out of the tomb, though many saw Him afterward and bore witness to what they saw. There are some things too sacred for any eye but God's to look upon. The curiosity, the clamor, the well-meant but blundering effort to help can only hinder the waiting soul and make unlikely if not impossible the communication of the secret message of God to the worshiping heart.

Sometimes we react by a kind of religious reflex and repeat dutifully the proper words and phrases even though they fail to express our real feelings and lack the authenticity of personal experience. Right now is such a time. A certain conventional loyalty may lead some who hear this unfamiliar truth expressed for the first time to say brightly, "Oh, I am never lonely. Christ said, `I will never leave you nor forsake you,' and `Lo, I am with you alway.' How can I be lonely when Jesus is with me?"

Now I do not want to reflect on the sincerity of any Christian soul, but this stock testimony is too neat to be real. It is obviously what the speaker thinks should be true rather than what he has proved to be true by the test of experience. This cheerful denial of loneliness proves only that the speaker has never walked with God without the support and encouragement afforded him by society. The sense of companionship which he mistakenly attributes to the presence of Christ may and probably does arise from the presence of friendly people. Always remember: you cannot carry a cross in company. Though a man were surrounded by a vast crowd, his cross is his alone and his carrying of it marks him as a man apart. Society has turned against him; otherwise he would have no cross. No one is a friend to the man with a cross. "They all forsook Him, and fled."

The pain of loneliness arises from the constitution of our nature. God made us for each other. The desire for human companionship is completely natural and right. The loneliness of the Christian results from his walk with God in an ungodly world, a walk that must often take him away from the fellowship of good Christians as well as from that of the unregenerate world. His God-given instincts cry out for companionship with others of his kind, others who can understand his longings, his aspirations, his absorption in the love of Christ; and because within his circle of friends there are so few who share inner experiences, he is forced to walk alone. The unsatisfied longings of the prophets for human understanding caused them to cry out in their complaint, and even our Lord Himself suffered in the same way.

The man who has passed on into the divine Presence in actual inner experience will not find many who understand him. A certain amount of social fellowship will of course be his as he mingles with religious persons in the regular activities of the church, but true spiritual fellowship will be hard to find. But he should not expect things to be otherwise. After all he is a stranger and a pilgrim, and the journey he takes is not on his feet but in his heart. He walks with God in the garden of his own soul - and who but God can walk there with him? He is of another spirit from the multitudes that tread the courts of the Lord's house. He has seen that of which they have only heard, and he walks among them somewhat as Zacharias walked after his return from the altar when the people whispered, "He has seen a vision."

The truly spiritual man is indeed something of an oddity. He lives not for himself but to promote the interests of Another. He seeks to persuade people to give all to his Lord and asks no portion or share for himself. He delights not to be honored but to see his Savior glorified in the eyes of men. His joy is to see his Lord promoted and himself neglected. He finds few who care to talk about that which is the supreme object of his interest, so he is often silent and preoccupied in the midst of noisy religious shoptalk. For this he earns the reputation of being dull and overserious, so he is avoided and the gulf between him and society widens. He searches for friends upon whose garments he can detect the smell of myrrh and aloes and cassia out of the ivory palaces, and finding few or none, he, like Mary of old, keeps these things in his heart.

It is this very loneliness that throws him back upon God. "When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up." His inability to find human companionship drives him to seek in God what he can find nowhere else. He learns in inner solitude what he could not have learned in the crowd - that Christ is All in All, that He is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption, that in Him we have and possess life's summum bonum.

Two things remain to be said. One, that the lonely man of whom we speak is not a haughty man, nor is he the holier-than-thou, austere saint so bitterly satirized in popular literature. He is likely to feel that he is the least of all men and is sure to blame himself for his very loneliness. He wants to share his feelings with others and to open his heart to some like-minded soul who will understand him, but the spiritual climate around him does not encourage it, so he remains silent and tells his griefs to God alone.

The second thing is that the lonely saint is not the withdrawn man who hardens himself against human suffering and spends his days contemplating the heavens. Just the opposite is true. His loneliness makes him sympathetic to the approach of the brokenhearted and the fallen and the sin-bruised. Because he is detached from the world, he is all the more able to help it. Meister Eckhart taught his followers that if they should find themselves in prayer and happen to remember that a poor widow needed food, they should break off the prayer instantly and go care for the widow. "God will not suffer you to lose anything by it," he told them. "You can take up again in prayer where you left off and the Lord will make it up to you." This is typical of the great mystics and masters of the interior life from Paul to the present day.

The weakness of so many modern Christians is that they feel too much at home in the world. In their effort to achieve restful "adjustment" to unregenerate society they have lost their pilgrim character and become an essential part of the very moral order against which they are sent to protest. The world recognizes them and accepts them for what they are. And this is the saddest thing that can be said about them. They are not lonely, but neither are they saints.
~ A.W. Tozer

I just recently discovered this wonderfully rich exercept from Mr. Tozer. It is close to many thoughts and meditations that have been on my heart as of late.
My life is but a weaving between my God and me. I am ever learning that inner, private solitude in which Christ truly becomes my All in all. My desire to be built in the secret place in sweet communion with my King deepens with each passing day. He does satisfy the longing, lonely soul, filling every aching, desperate, empty place. My Lord, my Love, I am content with Thee!

Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
you hold my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
~ Psalm 73:23-26

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.

~ Psalm 91:1-2

Monday, October 11, 2010

Bearing evenly every uneven thing

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. ~ 1 Cor 13:6-8
To bear: stegō
1) deck, thatch, to cover
a) to protect or keep by covering, to preserve
2) to cover over with silence
a) to keep secret
b) to hide, conceal
1) of the errors and faults of others
3) by covering to keep off something which threatens, to bear up against, hold out against, and so endure, bear, forbear
To believe: pisteuō
1) to think to be true, to be persuaded of, to credit, place confidence in
a) of the thing believed
1) used in the NT of the conviction and trust to which a man is impelled by a certain inner and higher prerogative and law of soul
2) to trust in Jesus or God as able to aid either in obtaining or in doing something: saving faith
To hope: elpizō
1) to hope
a) in a religious sense, to wait for salvation with joy and full confidence
2) hopefully to trust in
To endure: hypomenō
1) to remain
a) to tarry behind
2) to remain i.e. abide, not recede or flee
a) to preserve: under misfortunes and trials to hold fast to one's faith in Christ
b) to endure, bear bravely and calmly

Sometimes it seems that to bear, believe, hope, and endure are merely high, lofty ideals. To remain faithful in a trial, however "large" or "small" in nature it may be, has been an ever-constant desire of mine. Not just to appear patient on the surface, but to be steadfast in heart and mind. Every thought and feeling turned towards the One who is able to save to the uttermost. Never empty of devotion and charity, but a continual outpouring of the divine life of Christ within and poured onto others.
"But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life."~ John 4:14
During trials I find myself constantly turning to that dear old book, If, written by Amy Carmichael many years ago. From the many years that she spent and gave her life for the souls of countless children in India, Amy learned what it meant to live and love as her dear Saviour did. She walked the road of her Saviour and never looked back. Thanks to this wonderful sister in the faith, we have strengthening words of wisdom for those who begin on the same path.

If I am soft to myself and slide comfortably into the vice of self-pity and self-sympathy; if I do not by the grace of God practice fortitude, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I myself dominate myself, if my thoughts revolve round myself, if I am so occupied with myself I rarely have “a heart at leisure from itself,” then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If, the moment I am conscious of the shadow of self crossing my threshold, I do not shut the door, and in the power of Him who works in us to will and to do, keep that door shut, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If, in dealing with one who does not respond, I weary of the strain, and slip from under the burden, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I put my own happiness before the well-being of the work entrusted to me; if, though I have this ministry and have received much mercy, I faint, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If by doing some work which the undiscerning consider “not spiritual work” I can best help others, and I inwardly revel, thinking it is the spiritual for which I crave, when in truth it is the interesting and exciting, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If monotony tries me, and I cannot stand drudgery; if stupid people fret me and the little ruffles set me on edge; if I make much of the trifles of life, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I am inconsiderate about the comfort of others, or their feelings, or even of their little weaknesses; if I am careless about their little hurts and miss opportunities to smooth their way; if I make the sweet running of household wheels more difficult to accomplish, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If interruptions annoy me, and private cares make me impatient; if I shadow the souls about me because I myself am shadowed, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If souls can suffer alongside, and I hardly know it, because the spirit of discernment is not in me, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I avoid being “ploughed under,” with all that such ploughing entails of rough handling, isolation, uncongenial situations, strange tests, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If the love that “alone maketh light of every heavy thing, and beareth evenly every uneven thing” is not my heart’s desire, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

Deep unto deep, O Lord,
Crieth in me,
Gathering strength I come,
Lord, unto Thee.
Jesus of Calvary,
Smitten for me,
Ask what Thou wilt, but give
Love to me.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


I recently ordered a bunch of wonderfully rich, classic Christian books from the online store Kingsley Press. They are currently having an incredible sale on most of their books! With authors like A.W. Tozer and Leonard Ravenhill, you know you can't go wrong.

I ordered myself copies of Lilias Trotter's books again. After giving my original copies away to a friend, I was anxiously awaiting to have them back again in my book collection. These books have traveled far and wide with me; the impact that these writings from Lilias have had on my life can hardly be expressed. Her simple teachings on Gospel-living led me to Christ in some of my most grievous and painful trials. As a result, these two small books have significant, personal meaning to me. Lilias Trotter was a missionary to the muslims in Algeria near the end of the 19th century. Her life was laid down at a very young age and the Lord greatly used her as a poured-out vessel to reach the souls of the Muslim world.

The lovely illustrations and paintings by Lilias Trotter truly set apart her books from others. They complement her writings wonderfully well!
Chosen vessels to bear His Name - His personality; with all that is wrapped up in that Name of fragrance and healing, authority and power; chosen to go about this weary sinful world with the living Christ folded in our hearts, ready and able as of old to meet the need around. Is not this a calling for which it is worth counting, as St. Paul did, all things but loss?

Chosen vessels - there is the vessel and there is the treasure in it, for ever distinct, though in wonderful union, like the seed-vessel and the seed: the one enshrines the other.

God builds up a shrine within us of His workmanship, from the day in which Jesus was received. The seed-vessel is its picture. With the old nature He can have nothing to do except to deliver it to death: no improving can fit it for His purpose, any more than the leaf or tendril, however beautiful, can be the receptacle of the seed. There must be "a new creation" (R.V., margin), "the new man," to be the temple of the Divine Life.

~ Lilias Trotter, Parables of the Christ-Life

Oh, that we may learn to die to all that is of self with this royal joyfulness that swallows up death in victory in God's world around! He can make every step of the path full of the triumph of gladness that glows in the golden leaves. Glory be to His Name!

And the outcome, like the outcome of the autumn, is this: there is a new power set free; a power of multiplying life around. The promise to Christ was that because He poured forth His soul unto death, He should see His seed: and He leads His children in their little measure by the same road. Over and over the promise of seed is linked with sacrifice, as with Abraham and Rebekah and Ruth; those who at His bidding have forsaken all receive an hundred-fold more now in this time, for sacrifice is God's factor in His work of multiplying. "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit."

It is the poured-out life that God blesses - the life that heeds not itself, if only other souls may be won. "Ask and it shall be given unto you" is one of God's nursery lessons to His children. "Give, and it shall be given unto you" comes further on.

~ Lilias Trotter, Parables of the Cross