Streams in The Desert

Step-By-Step Grace

When thou passest through the waters…they shall not overflow thee.

~ Isa 43:2

God does not open paths for us in advance of our coming. He does not promise help before help is needed. He does not remove obstacles out of our way before we reach them. Yet when we are on the edge of our need, God’s hand is stretched out.

Many people forget this, and are forever worrying about difficulties which they foresee in the future. They expect that God is going to make the way plain and open before them, miles and miles ahead; whereas He has promised to do it only step by step as they may need. You must get to the waters and into their floods before you can claim the promise. Many people dread death, and lament that they have not “dying grace.” Of course, they will not have dying grace when they are in good health, in the midst of life’s duties, with death far in advance. Why should they have it then? Grace for duty is what they need then, living grace; then dying grace when they come to die. —J. R. M.

“When thou passest through the waters”  
Deep the waves may be and cold,  
But Jehovah is our refuge,  
And His promise is our hold;  
For the Lord Himself hath said it,  
He, the faithful God and true:  
“When thou comest to the waters  
Thou shalt not go down, BUT THROUGH.”

Seas of sorrow, seas of trial,  
Bitterest anguish, fiercest pain,  
Rolling surges of temptation  
Sweeping over heart and brain  
They shall never overflow us  
For we know His word is true;  
All His waves and all His billows  
He will lead us safely through.  

Threatening breakers of destruction,
Doubt’s insidious undertow,
Shall not sink us, shall not drag us
Out to ocean depths of woe;
For His promise shall sustain us,
Praise the Lord, whose Word is true!
We shall not go down, or under,
For He saith, “Thou passest THROUGH.”

~ Annie Johnson Flint

Streams in The Desert

Iron Saints

His soul entered into iron

~ Ps 105:18

Turn that about and render it in our language, and it reads thus, “Iron entered his soul.” Is there not a truth in this? That sorrow and privation, the yoke borne in the youth, the soul’s enforced restraint, are all conducive to an iron tenacity and strength of purpose, and endurance or fortitude, which are the indispensable foundation and framework of a noble character.

Do not flinch from suffering; bear it silently, patiently, resignedly; and be sure that it is God’s way of infusing iron into your spiritual life. The world wants iron dukes, iron battalions, iron sinews, and thews of steel. God wants iron saints; and since there is no way of imparting iron to the moral nature but by letting people suffer, He lets them suffer.

Are the best years of your life slipping away in enforced monotony? Are you beset by opposition, misunderstanding, and scorn, as the thick undergrowth besets the passage of the woodsman pioneer? Then take heart; the time is not wasted; God is only putting you through the iron regimen. The iron crown of suffering precedes the golden crown of glory. And iron is entering into your soul to make it strong and brave.

~ F. B. Meyer

“But you will not mind the roughness nor the steepness of the way,
Nor the chill, unrested morning, nor the searness of the day;
And you will not take a turning to the left or the right,
But go straight ahead, nor tremble at the coming of the night,
For the road leads home.”

Streams in The Desert

How To Wait

Blessed is he that waiteth

~ Dan 12:12

It may seem an easy thing to wait, but it is one of the postures which a Christian soldier learns not without years of teaching. Marching and quick-marching are much easier to God’s warriors than standing still.

There are hours of perplexity when the most willing spirit, anxiously desirous to serve the Lord, knows not what part to take. Then what shall it do? Vex itself by despair? Fly back in cowardice, turn to the right hand in fear, or rush forward in presumption?

No, but simply wait. Wait in prayer, however. Call upon God and spread the case before Him; tell Him your difficulty, and plead His promise of aid.

Wait in faith. Express your unstaggering confidence in Him. Believe that if He keeps you tarrying even till midnight, yet He will come at the right time; the vision shall come, and shall not tarry.

Wait in quiet patience. Never murmur against the second cause, as the children of Israel did against Moses. Accept the case as it is, and put it as it stands, simply and with your whole heart, without any self-will, into the hand of your covenant God, saying, “Now, Lord, not my will, but Thine be done. I know not what to do; I am brought to extremities; but I will wait until Thou shalt cleave the floods, or drive back my foes. I will wait, if Thou keep me many a day, for my heart is fixed upon Thee alone, O God, and my spirit waiteth for Thee in full conviction that Thou wilt yet be my joy and my salvation, my refuge and my strong tower.”
Morning by Morning

Wait patiently wait,  
God never is late;  
Thy budding plans are in Thy Father’s holding,  
And only wait His grand divine unfolding.  
Then wait, wait,  
Patiently wait.  

Trust, hopefully trust,  
That God will adjust  
Thy tangled life; and from its dark concealings,  
Will bring His will, in all its bright revealings.  
Then trust, trust,  
Hopefully trust.  

Rest, peacefully rest
On thy Saviour’s breast;
Breathe in His ear thy sacred high ambition,
And He will bring it forth in blest fruition.
Then rest, rest,
Peacefully rest!
~ Mercy A. Gladwin

Streams in The Desert

An Hour In The Garden

He went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when evening was come, he was there alone

~ Matt 14:23

The man Christ Jesus felt the need of perfect solitude ~ Himself alone, entirely by Himself, alone with Himself. We know how much intercourse with men draws us away from ourselves and exhausts our powers. The man Christ Jesus knew this, too, and felt the need of being by Himself again, of gathering all His powers, of realizing fully His high destiny, His human weakness, His entire dependence on the Father.

How much more does the child of God need this ~ himself alone with spiritual realities, himself alone with God the Father. If ever there were one who could dispense with special seasons for solitude and fellowship, it was our Lord. But He could not do His work or maintain His fellowship in full power, without His quiet time.

Would God that every servant of His understood and practiced this blessed art, and that the Church knew how to train its children into some sense of this high and holy privilege, that every believer may and must have his time when he is indeed himself alone with God. Oh, the thought to have God all alone to myself, and to know that God has me all alone to Himself!

~ Andrew Murray

Lamertine speaks in one of his books of a secluded walk in his garden where his mother always spent a certain hour of the day, upon which nobody ever dreamed for a moment of intruding. It was the holy garden of the Lord to her. Poor souls that have no such Beulah land! Seek thy private chamber, Jesus says. It is in the solitude that we catch the mystic notes that issue from the soul of things.

A MEDITATION

My soul, practice being alone with Christ! It is written that when they were alone He expounded all things to His disciples. Do not wonder at the saying; it is true to thine experience. If thou wouldst understand thyself send the multitude away. Let them go out one by one till thou art left alone with Jesus. … Hast thou ever pictured thyself the one remaining creature in the earth, the one remaining creature in all the starry worlds?

In such a universe thine every thought would be “God and I! God and I!” And yet He is as near to thee as that—as near as if in the boundless spaces there throbbed no heart but His and thine. Practice that solitude, O my soul! Practice the expulsion of the crowd! Practice the stillness of thine own heart! Practice the solemn refrain “God and I! God and I!” Let none interpose between thee and thy wrestling angel! Thou shalt be both condemned and pardoned when thou shalt meet Jesus alone!

~ George Matheson

Streams in The Desert

Cushion of the Sea

And the peace of God, which transcends all our powers of thought, will be a garrison to guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus ~ Phil 4:7
There is what is called the “cushion of the sea.” Down beneath the surface that is agitated by storms, and driven about with winds, there is a part of the sea that is never stirred. When we dredge the bottom and bring up the remains of animal and vegetable life we find that they give evidence of not having been disturbed in the least, for hundreds and thousands of years. The peace of God is that eternal calm which, like the cushion of the sea, lies far too deep down to be reached by any external trouble and disturbance; and he who enters into the presence of God, becomes partaker of that undisturbed and undisturbable calm.

~ Dr. A. T. Pierson

When winds are raging o’er the upper ocean,  
And billows wild contend with angry roar,  
’Tis said, far down beneath the wild commotion,  
That peaceful stillness reigneth evermore.  

Far, far beneath, the noise of tempest dieth,  
And silver waves chime ever peacefully,  
And no rude storm, how fierce soe’er it flieth,  
Disturbs the Sabbath of that deeper sea.  

So to the heart that knows Thy love, O Purest,  
There is a temple sacred evermore,  
And all the babble of life’s angry voices  
Dies in hushed silence at its peaceful door.  

Far, far away, the roar of passion dieth,
And loving thoughts rise calm and peacefully,
And no rude storm, how fierce soe’er it flieth,
Disturbs the soul that dwells, O Lord, in Thee.

~ Harriet Beecher Stowe

“The Pilgrim they laid in a large upper chamber, facing the sun-rising. The name of the chamber was Peace.”

~ Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress

Streams in The Desert

After The Frost

Why go I mourning?~  Ps 42:9

Canst thou answer this, believer? Canst thou find any reason why thou art so often mourning instead of rejoicing? Why yield to gloomy anticipations? Who told thee that the night would never end in day? Who told thee that the winter of thy discontent would proceed from frost to frost, from snow and ice, and hail, to deeper snow, and yet more heavy tempest of despair? Knowest thou not that day follows night, that flood comes after ebb, that spring and summer succeed winter? Hope thou then! Hope thou ever! for God fails thee not.

~ C. 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 billows that guarded my sea-girt path,  
But carried 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,  
But the balm of His breath hath healed.  
Oh, tender and true was the chastening sore,  
In wisdom, that taught and tried,  
Till the soul that He sought was trusting in Him,  
And nothing on earth beside.

“He guided by 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 water-springs by the way,  
For the glowing pillar of flame by night,  
And the sheltering cloud by day.

“Never a watch on the dreariest halt,
But some promise of love endears;
I read from the past, that my future shall be
Far better than all my fears.
Like the golden pot, of the wilderness bread,
Laid up with the blossoming rod,
All safe in the ark, with the law of the Lord,
Is the covenant care of my God.”

Streams in The Desert

Hiding Place

Hide thyself by the brook Cherith ~  1 Kgs 17:3

God’s servants must be taught the value of the hidden life. The man who is to take a high place before his fellows must take a low place before his God. We must not be surprised if sometimes our Father says: “There, child, thou hast had enough of this hurry, and publicity, and excitement; get thee hence, and hide thyself by the brook—hide thyself in the Cherith of the sick chamber, or in the Cherith of bereavement, or in some solitude from which the crowds have ebbed away.”

Happy is he who can reply, “This Thy will is also mine; I flee unto Thee to hide me. Hide me in the secret of Thy tabernacle, and beneath the covert of Thy wings!”

Every saintly soul that would wield great power with men must win it in some hidden Cherith. The acquisition of spiritual power is impossible, unless we can hide ourselves from men and from ourselves in some deep gorge where we may absorb the power of the eternal God; as vegetation through long ages absorbed these qualities of sunshine, which it now gives back through burning coal.

Bishop Andrews had his Cherith, in which he spent five hours every day in prayer and devotion. John Welsh had it—who thought the day ill spent which did not witness eight or ten hours of closet communion. David Brainerd had it in the woods of North America. Christmas Evans had it in his long and lonely journeys amid the hills of Wales.

Or, passing back to the blessed age from which we date the centuries: Patmos, the seclusion of the Roman prisons, the Arabian desert, the hills and vales of Palestine, are forever memorable as the Cheriths of those who have made our modern world.

Our Lord found His Cherith at Nazareth, and in the wilderness of Judea; amid the olives of Bethany, and the solitude of Gadara. None of us, therefore, can dispense with some Cherith where the sounds of human voices are exchanged for the waters of quietness which are fed from the throne; and where we may taste the sweets and imbibe the power of a life hidden with Christ.

~ Elijah, by Meyer

Streams in The Desert

Wait Quietly

And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise

~ Heb 6:15

Abraham was long tried, but he was richly rewarded. The Lord tried him by delaying to fulfill His promise. Satan tried him by temptation; men tried him by jealousy, distrust, and opposition; Sarah tried him by her peevishness. But he patiently endured. He did not question God’s veracity, nor limit His power, nor doubt His faithfulness, nor grieve His love; but he bowed to Divine Sovereignty, submitted to Infinite Wisdom, and was silent under delays, waiting the Lord’s time. And so, having patiently endured, he obtained the promise.

God’s promises cannot fail of their accomplishment. Patient waiters cannot be disappointed. Believing expectation shall be realized.

Beloved, Abraham’s conduct condemns a hasty spirit, reproves a murmuring one, commends a patient one, and encourages quiet submission to God’s will and way. Remember, Abraham was tried; he patiently waited; he received the promise, and was satisfied. Imitate his example, and you will share the same blessing.

~ Selected

Streams in The Desert

Being Proven

There he proved them ~ Exod 15:25

I stood once in the test room of a great steel mill. All around me were little partitions and compartments. Steel had been tested to the limit, and marked with figures that showed its breaking point. Some pieces had been twisted until they broke, and the strength of torsion was marked on them. Some had been stretched to the breaking point and their tensile strength indicated. Some had been compressed to the crushing point, and also marked. The master of the steel mill knew just what these pieces of steel would stand under strain. He knew just what they would bear if placed in the great ship, building, or bridge. He knew this because his testing room revealed it.

It is often so with God’s children. God does not want us to be like vases of glass or porcelain. He would have us like these toughened pieces of steel, able to bear twisting and crushing to the uttermost without collapse.

He wants us to be, not hothouse plants, but storm-beaten oaks; not sand dunes driven with every gust of wind, but granite rocks withstanding the fiercest storms. To make us such He must needs bring us into His testing room of suffering.

It is very easy for us to speak and theorize about faith, but God often casts us into crucibles to try our gold, and to separate it from the dross and alloy. Oh, happy are we if the hurricanes that ripple life’s unquiet sea have the effect of making Jesus more precious.Better the storm with Christ than smooth waters without Him.

~ Macduff

Many of us need no other argument than our own experiences to prove that suffering is indeed God’s testing room of faith.

~ J. H. McC

Streams in The Desert

Faith Grows Amid Storms

He hath acquainted himself with my beaten path. When he hath searched me out, I shall come out shining ~ Job 23:10

Faith grows amid storms” ~ just four words, but oh, how full of import to the soul who has been in the storms!

Faith is that God-given faculty which, when exercised, brings the unseen into plain view, and by which the impossible things are made possible. It deals with supernaturals.

But it “grows amid storms”; that is, where there are disturbances in the spiritual atmosphere. Storms are caused by the conflicts of elements; and the storms of the spiritual world are conflicts with hostile elements.

In such an atmosphere faith finds its most productive soil; in such an element it comes more quickly to full fruition.

The staunchest tree is not found in the shelter of the forest, but out in the open where the winds from every quarter beat upon it, and bend and twist it until it becomes a giant in stature this is the tree which the mechanic wants his tools made of, and the wagon-maker seeks.

So in the spiritual world, when you see a giant, remember the road you must travel to come up to his side is not along the sunny lane where wild flowers ever bloom; but a steep, rocky, narrow pathway where the blasts of hell will almost blow you off your feet; where the sharp rocks cut the flesh, where the projecting thorns scratch the brow, and the venomous beasts hiss on every side.

It is a pathway of sorrow and joy, of suffering and healing balm, of tears and smiles, of trials and victories, of conflicts and triumphs, of hardships and perils and buffetings, of persecutions and misunderstandings, of troubles and distress; through all of which we are made more than conquerors through Him who loves us.

“Amid storms.” Right in the midst where it is fiercest. You may shrink back from the ordeal of a fierce storm of trial…but go in! God is there to meet you in the center of all your trials, and to whisper His secrets which will make you come forth with a shining face and an indomitable faith that all the demons of hell shall never afterwards cause to waver.

~ E. A. Kilbourne