Streams in The Desert

The Breaking of the Storm

Now a great windstorm developed and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was nearly swamped.

[Mark 4:37]

Some of the storms of life come suddenly: a great sorrow, a bitter disappointment, a crushing defeat. Some come slowly. They appear upon the ragged edges of the horizon no larger than a man’s hand, but, trouble that seems so insignificant spreads until it covers the sky and overwhelms us.

Yet it is in the storm that God equips us for service. When God wants an oak He plants it on the moor where the storms will shake it and the rains will beat down upon it, and it is in the midnight battle with elements that the oak wins its rugged fibre and becomes the king of the forest.

When God wants to make a man He puts him into some storm. The history of manhood is always rough and rugged. No man is made until he has been out into the surge of the storm and found the sublime fulfillment of the prayer: “O God, take me, break me, make me.”

A Frenchman has painted a picture of universal genius. There stand orators, philosophers and martyrs, all who have achieved pre-eminence in any phase of life; the remarkable fact about the picture is this: Every man who is pre-eminent for his ability was first pre-eminent for suffering. In the foreground stands that figure of the man who was denied the promised land, Moses. Beside him is another, feeling his way—blind Homer. Milton is there, blind and heart-broken. Now comes the form of one who towers above them all. What is His characteristic? His Face is marred more than any man’s. The artist might have written under that great picture, “The Storm.”

The beauties of nature come after the storm. The rugged beauty of the mountain is born in a storm, and the heroes of life are the storm-swept and the battle-scarred.

You have been in the storms and swept by the blasts. Have they left you broken, weary, beaten in the valley, or have they lifted you to the sunlit summits of a richer, deeper, more abiding manhood and womanhood? Have they left you with more sympathy with the storm-swept and the battle-scarred?

~ Selected ~

The wind that blows can never kill

The tree God plants;

It bloweth east, it bloweth west,

The tender leaves have little rest,

But any wind that blows is best.

The tree that God plants

Strikes deeper root, grows higher still,

Spreads greater boughs, for God’s good will

Meets all its wants.

There is no storm hath power to blast

The tree God knows;

No thunderbolt, nor beating rain,

Nor lightning flash, nor hurricane;

When they are spent, it doth remain,

The tree God knows,

Through every tempest standeth fast,

And from its first day to its last

Still fairer grows.

~ Selected ~

Streams in The Desert

Hedged In

My brothers and sisters, consider it nothing but joy when you fall into all sorts of trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance.

[Jas 1:2-3]

God hedges in His own that He may preserve them, but oftentimes they only see the wrong side of the hedge, and so misunderstand His dealings. It was so with Job (Job 3:23). Ah, but Satan knew the value of that hedge! See his testimony in chapter 1:10. Through the leaves of every trial there are chinks of light to shine through. Thorns do not prick you unless you lean against them, and not one touches without His knowledge. The words that hurt you, the letter which gave you pain, the cruel wound of your dearest friend, shortness of money—are all known to Him, who sympathizes as none else can and watches to see, if, through all, you will dare to trust Him wholly.

“The hawthorn hedge that keeps us from intruding,

Looks very fierce and bare

When stripped by winter, every branch protruding

Its thorns that would wound and tear.

 

“But spring-time comes; and like the rod that budded,

Each twig breaks out in green;

And cushions soft of tender leaves are studded,

Where spines alone were seen,

 

“The sorrows, that to us seem so perplexing,

Are mercies kindly sent

To guard our wayward souls from sadder vexing,

And greater ills prevent.

 

“To save us from the pit, no screen of roses

Would serve for our defense,

The hindrance that completely interposes

Stings back like thorny fence.

 

“At first when smarting from the shock, complaining

Of wounds that freely bleed,

God’s hedges of severity us paining,

May seem severe indeed.

 

“But afterwards, God’s blessed spring-time cometh,

And bitter murmurs cease;

The sharp severity that pierced us bloometh,

And yields the fruits of peace.

 

“Then let us sing, our guarded way thus wending

Life’s hidden snares among,

Of mercy and of judgment sweetly blending;

Earth’s sad, but lovely song.”

Streams in The Desert

Contentment

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content in any circumstance.

[Phil 4:11]

Paul, denied of every comfort, wrote the above words in his dungeon. A story is told of a king who went into his garden one morning, and found everything withered and dying. He asked the oak that stood near the gate what the trouble was. He found it was sick of life and determined to die because it was not tall and beautiful like the pine. The pine was all out of heart because it could not bear grapes, like the vine. The vine was going to throw its life away because it could not stand erect and have as fine fruit as the peach tree. The geranium was fretting because it was not tall and fragrant like the lilac; and so on all through the garden. Coming to a heart’s-ease, he found its bright face lifted as cheery as ever. “Well, heart’s-ease, I’m glad, amidst all this discouragement, to find one brave little flower. You do not seem to be the least disheartened.” “No, I am not of much account, but I thought that if you wanted an oak, or a pine, or a peach tree, or a lilac, you would have planted one; but as I knew you wanted a heart’s-ease, I am determined to be the best little heart’s-ease that I can.”

“Others may do a greater work,

But you have your part to do;

And no one in all God’s heritage

Can do it so well as you.”

They who are God’s without reserve, are in every state content; for they will only what He wills, and desire to do for Him whatever He desires them to do; they strip themselves of everything, and in this nakedness find all things restored an hundredfold.

Streams in The Desert

Climb Upward

The side chambers surrounding the temple were wider at each successive story; for the structure surrounding the temple went up story by story all around the temple. For this reason the width of the temple increased as it went up, and one went up from the lowest story to the highest by the way of the middle story.

[Ezek 41:7]

“Still upward be thine onward course:

For this I pray today;

Still upward as the years go by,

And seasons pass away.

“Still upward in this coming year,

Thy path is all untried;

Still upward may’st thou journey on,

Close by thy Savior’s side.

“Still upward e’en though sorrow come,

And trials crush thine heart;

Still upward may they draw thy soul,

With Christ to walk apart.

“Still upward till the day shall break,

And shadows all have flown;

Still upward till in Heaven you wake,

And stand before the throne.”

We ought not to rest content in the mists of the valley when the summit of Tabor awaits us. How pure are the dews of the hills, how fresh is the mountain air, how rich the fare of the dwellers aloft, whose windows look into the New Jerusalem!

Many saints are content to live like men in coal mines, who see not the sun. Tears mar their faces when they might anoint them with celestial oil. Satisfied I am that many a believer pines in a dungeon when he might walk on the palace roof, and view the goodly land and Lebanon. Rouse thee, O believer, from thy low condition! Cast away thy sloth, thy lethargy, thy coldness, or whatever interferes with thy chaste and pure love to Christ. Make Him the source, the center, and the circumference of all thy soul’s range of delight. Rest no longer satisfied with thy dwarfish attainments. Aspire to a higher, a nobler, a fuller life. Upward to heaven! Nearer to God!

~ Spurgeon ~

“I want to scale the utmost height,

And catch a gleam of glory bright;

But still I’ll pray, till heaven I’ve found,

Lord, lead me on to higher ground!”

Not many of us are living at our best. We linger in the lowlands because we are afraid to climb the mountains. The steepness and ruggedness dismay us, and so we stay in the misty valleys and do not learn the mystery of the hills. We do not know what we lose in our self-indulgence, what glory awaits us if only we had courage for the mountain climb, what blessing we should find if only we would move to the uplands of God.

~ J. R. M ~

“Too low they build who build beneath the stars.”

Streams in The Desert

New Year

Instead, the land you are crossing the Jordan to occupy is one of hills and valleys, a land that drinks in water from the rains, a land the Lord your God looks after. He is constantly attentive to it from the beginning to the end of the year.

[Deut 11:11-12]

Today dear friends, we stand upon the verge of the unknown. There lies before us the new year and we are going forth to possess it. Who can tell what we shall find? What new experiences, what changes shall come, what new needs shall arise? But here is the cheering, comforting, gladdening message from our Heavenly Father, “The Lord thy God careth for it.” “His eyes are upon it away to the ending of the year.”

All our supply is to come from the Lord. Here are springs that shall never dry; here are fountains and streams that shall never be cut off. Here, anxious one, is the gracious pledge of the Heavenly Father. If He be the Source of our mercies they can never fail us. No heat, no drought can parch that river, “the streams whereof make glad the city of God.”

The land is a land of hills and valleys. It is not all smooth nor all down hill. If life were all one dead level the dull sameness would oppress us; we want the hills and the valleys. The hills collect the rain for a hundred fruitful valleys. Ah, so it is with us! It is the hill difficulty that drives us to the throne of grace and brings down the shower of blessing; the hills, the bleak hills of life that we wonder at and perhaps grumble at, bring down the showers. How many have perished in the wilderness, buried under its golden sands, who would have lived and thriven in the hill-country; how many would have been killed by the frost, blighted with winds, swept desolate of tree and fruit but for the hill-stern, hard, rugged, so steep to climb. God’s hills are a gracious protection for His people against their foes!

We cannot tell what loss and sorrow and trial are doing. Trust only. The Father comes near to take our hand and lead us on our way today. It shall be a good, a blessed new year!

He leads us on by paths we did not know;

Upward He leads us, though our steps be slow,

Though oft we faint and falter on the way,

Though storms and darkness oft obscure the day;

Yet when the clouds are gone,

We know He leads us on.

He leads us on through all the unquiet years;

Past all our dreamland hopes, and doubts and fears,

He guides our steps, through all the tangled maze

Of losses, sorrows, and o’erclouded days;

We know His will is done;

And still He leads us on.

~ N.L. Zinzendorf ~

Streams in The Desert

Believing Prayer

So Peter was kept in prison, but those in the church were earnestly praying to God for him.

[Acts 12:5]

Peter was in prison awaiting his execution. The Church had neither human power nor influence to save him. There was no earthly help, but there was help to be obtained by the way of Heaven. They gave themselves to fervent, importunate prayer. God sent His angel, who aroused Peter from sleep and led him out through the first and second wards of the prison; and when they came to the iron gate, it opened to them of its own accord, and Peter was free.

There may be some iron gate in your life that has blocked your way. Like a caged bird you have often beaten against the bars, but instead of helping, you have only had to fall back tired, exhausted and sore at heart. There is a secret for you to learn, and that is believing prayer; and when you come to the iron gate, it will open of its own accord. How much wasted energy and sore disappointment will be saved if you will learn to pray as did the Church in the upper room! Insurmountable difficulties will disappear; adverse circumstances will prove favorable if you learn to pray, not with your own faith but with the faith of God (Mark 11:22, margin). Souls in prison have been waiting for years for the gate to open; loved ones out of Christ, bound by Satan, will be set free when you pray till you definitely believe God.

~ C. H. P. ~

Emergencies call for intense prayer. When the man becomes the prayer nothing can resist its touch. Elijah on Carmel, bowed down on the ground, with his face between his knees, that was prayer—the man himself. No words are mentioned. Prayer can be too tense for words. The man’s whole being was in touch with God, and was set with God against the powers of evil. They couldn’t withstand such praying. There’s more of this embodied praying needed.

The Bent-knee Time “Groanings which cannot be uttered are often prayers which cannot be refused.”

~ C. H. Spurgeon ~