Streams in The Desert

Belief, Not Understanding

Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that if you believe, you would see the glory of God?”

[John 11:40 NET]

Mary and Martha could not understand what their Lord was doing. Both of them said to Him, “Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.” Back of it all, we seem to read their thought: “Lord, we do not understand why you have stayed away so long. We do not understand how you could let death come to the man whom you loved. We do not understand how you could let sorrow and suffering ravage our lives when your presence might have stayed it all. Why did you not come? It is too late now, for already he has been dead four days!”

And to it all Jesus had but one great truth: “You may not understand; but I tell you if you believe, you will see.”

Abraham could not understand why God should ask the sacrifice of the boy; but he trusted. And he saw the glory of God in his restoration to his love. Moses could not understand why God should keep him forty years in the wilderness, but he trusted; and he saw when God called him to lead forth Israel from bondage.

Joseph could not understand the cruelty of his brethren, the false witness of a perfidious woman, and the long years of an unjust imprisonment; but he trusted, and he saw at last the glory of God in it all.

Jacob could not understand the strange providence which permitted the same Joseph to be torn from his father’s love, but he saw the glory of God when he looked into the face of that same Joseph as the viceroy of a great king, and the preserver of his own life and the lives of a great nation.

And so, perhaps in your life. You say, “I do not understand why God let my dear one be taken. I do not understand why affliction has been permitted to smite me. I do not understand the devious paths by which the Lord is leading me. I do not understand why plans and purposes that seemed good to my eyes should be baffled. I do not understand why blessings I so much need are so long delayed.

Friend, you do not have to understand all God’s ways with you. God does not expect you to understand them. You do not expect your child to understand, only believe. Some day you will see the glory of God in the things which you do not understand.

~ J. H. McC ~

Streams in The Desert

God in Everything

So Samuel told him everything. He did not hold back anything from him. Eli said, “The Lord will do what he pleases.”

[1 Sam 3:18 NET]

“See God in everything, and God will calm and color all that thou dost see!” It may be that the circumstances of our sorrows will not be removed, their condition will remain unchanged; but if Christ, as Lord and Master of our life, is brought into our grief and gloom, “HE will compass us about with songs of deliverance.” To see HIM, and to be sure that His wisdom cannot err, His power cannot fail, His love can never change; to know that even His direst dealings with us are for our deepest spiritual gain, is to be able to say, in the midst of bereavement, sorrow, pain, and loss, “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Nothing else but seeing God in everything will make us loving and patient with those who annoy and trouble us. They will be to us then only instruments for accomplishing His tender and wise purposes toward us, and we shall even find ourselves at last inwardly thanking them for the blessings they bring us. Nothing else will completely put an end to all murmuring or rebelling thoughts.

~ H. W. Smith ~

“Give me a new idea,” I said,

While musing 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 thy 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 eventide, 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 gladsome 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.”

~ A. E. Finn ~

Streams in The Desert

Scent of The Rose

Awake, O north wind; come, O south wind! Blow on my garden so that its fragrant spices may send out their sweet smell. May my beloved come into his garden and eat its delightful fruit!

[Song 4:16 NET]

Some of the spices mentioned in this chapter are quite suggestive. The aloe was a bitter spice, and it tells of the sweetness of bitter things, the bitter-sweet, which has its own fine application that only those can understand who have felt it. The myrrh was used to embalm the dead, and it tells of death to something. It is the sweetness which comes to the heart after it has died to its self-will and pride and sin.

Oh, the inexpressible charm that hovers about some Christians simply because they bear upon the chastened countenance and mellow spirit the impress of the cross, the holy evidence of having died to something that was once proud and strong, but is now forever at the feet of Jesus. It is the heavenly charm of a broken spirit and a contrite heart, the music that springs from the minor key, the sweetness that comes from the touch of the frost upon the ripened fruit.

And then the frankincense was a fragrance that came from the touch of the fire. It was the burning powder that rose in clouds of sweetness from the bosom of the flames. It tells of the heart whose sweetness has been called forth, perhaps by the flames of affliction, until the holy place of the soul is filled with clouds of praise and prayer. Beloved, are we giving out the spices, the perfumes, the sweet odors of the heart? —The Love-Life of Our Lord.

“A Persian fable says: One day

A wanderer found a lump of clay

So redolent of sweet perfume

Its odors scented all the room.

‘What are thou? was his quick demand,

‘Art thou some gem from Samarcand,

Or spikenard in this rude disguise,

Or other costly merchandise?’

‘Nay: 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,

Distil sweet odors all around,

Though low and mean themselves are found?

Dear Lord, abide with us that we

May draw our perfume fresh from Thee.”

Streams in The Desert

Trouble Teaches

God is our strong refuge; he is truly our helper in times of trouble.

[Ps 46:1 NET]

The question often comes, “Why didn’t He help me sooner?” It is not His order. He must first adjust you to the trouble and cause you to learn your lesson from it. His promise is, “I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him.” He must be with you in the trouble first all day and all night. Then He will take you out of it. This will not come till you have stopped being restless and fretful about it and become calm and quiet. Then He will say, “It is enough.”

God uses trouble to teach His children precious lessons. They are intended to educate us. When their good work is done, a glorious recompense will come to us through them. There is a sweet joy and a real value in them. He does not regard them as difficulties but as opportunities.

~ Selected ~

Not always OUT of our troublous times,

And the struggles fierce and grim,

But IN—deeper IN—to our one sure rest,

The place of our peace, in Him.

~ Annie Johnson Flint ~

We once heard a simple old colored man say something that we have never forgotten: “When God tests you, it is a good time for you to test Him by putting His promises to the proof, and claiming from Him just as much as your trials have rendered necessary.”

There are two ways of getting out of a trial. One is to simply try to get rid of the trial, and 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 had, and to hail it with delight as an opportunity of obtaining a larger measure of Divine grace. Thus even the adversary becomes an auxiliary, and the things that seem to be against us turn out to be for the furtherance of our way. Surely, this is to be more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

~ A. B. Simpson ~

Streams in The Desert

Walk Without Strain

He saw them straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. As the night was ending, he came to them walking on the sea, for he wanted to pass by them.

[Mark 6:48 NET]

Straining, driving effort does not accomplish the work God gives man to do. Only God Himself, who always works without strain, and who never overworks, can do the work that He assigns to His children. When they restfully trust Him to do it, it will be well done and completely done. The way to let Him do His work through us is to partake of Christ so fully, by faith, that He more than fills our life.

A man who had learned this secret once said: “I came to Jesus and I drank, and I do not think that I shall ever be thirsty again. I have taken for my motto, ’Not overwork, but overflow’; and already it has made all the difference in my life.”

There is no effort in overflow. It is quietly irresistible. It is the normal life of omnipotent and ceaseless accomplishment into which Christ invites us today and always.—Sunday School Times

Be all at rest, my soul, O blessed secret,

Of the true life that glorifies thy Lord:

Not always doth the busiest soul best serve Him,

But he that resteth on 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 thee bear.

Be all at rest, my soul, for rest is service,

To the still heart God doth His secrets tell;

Thus shalt thou learn to wait, and watch, and labor,

Strengthened to bear, since Christ in thee doth 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 shalt thou 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 shalt share.

And what shall meet the deep unrest around thee,

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.”

Streams in The Desert

Grow in the Gloom

For I have received everything, and I have plenty. I have all I need because I received from Epaphroditus what you sent – a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, very pleasing to God.

[Phil 4:18 NET]

In one of my garden books there is a chapter with a very interesting heading, “Flowers that Grow in the Gloom.” It deals with those patches in a garden which never catch the sunlight. And my guide tells me the sort of flowers which are not afraid of these dingy corners—may rather like them and flourish in them.

And there are similar things in the world of the spirit. They come out when material circumstances become stern and severe. They grow in the gloom. How can we otherwise explain some of the experiences of the Apostle Paul?

Here he is in captivity at Rome. The supreme mission of his life appears to be broken. But it is just in this besetting dinginess that flowers begin to show their faces in bright and fascinating glory. He may have seen them before, growing in the open road, but never as they now appeared in incomparable strength and beauty. Words of promise opened out their treasures as he had never seen them before.

Among those treasures were such wonderful things as the grace of Christ, the love of Christ, the joy and peace of Christ; and it seemed as though they needed an “encircling gloom” to draw out their secret and their inner glory. At any rate the realm of gloom became the home of revelation, and Paul began to realize as never before the range and wealth of his spiritual inheritance.Who has not known men and women who, when they arrive at seasons of gloom and solitude, put on strength and hopefulness like a robe? You may imprison such folk where you please; but you shut up their treasure with them. You cannot shut it out. You may make their material lot a desert, but “the wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad, and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose.”

~ Dr. Jowett ~

“Every flower, even the fairest, has its shadow beneath it as it swings in the sunlight.”

Streams in The Desert

No Miracles

and the rest were to follow, some on planks and some on pieces of the ship. And in this way all were brought safely to land.

[Acts 27:44 NET]

The marvelous story of Paul’s voyage to Rome, with its trials and triumphs, is a fine pattern of the lights and shades of the way of faith all through the story of human life. The remarkable feature of it is the hard and narrow places which we find intermingled with God’s most extraordinary interpositions and providences.

It is the common idea that the pathway of faith is strewn with flowers, and that when God interposes in the life of His people, He does it on a scale so grand that He lifts us quite out of the plane of difficulties. The actual fact, however, is that the real experience is quite contrary. The story of the Bible is one of alternate trial and triumph in the case of everyone of the cloud of witnesses from Abel down to the latest martyr.

Paul, more than anyone else, was an example of how much a child of God can suffer without being crushed or broken in spirit. On account of his testifying in Damascus, he was hunted down by persecutors and obliged to fly for his life. but we behold no heavenly chariot transporting the holy apostle amid thunderbolts of flame from the reach of his foes, but “through a window in a basket,” was he let down over the walls of Damascus and so escaped their hands. In an old clothes basket, like a bundle of laundry, or groceries, the servant of Jesus Christ was dropped from the window and ignominiously fled from the hate of his foes.

Again we find him left for months in the lonely dungeons; we find him telling of his watchings, his fastings, and his desertion by friends, of his brutal and shameful beatings, and here even after God has promised to deliver him, we see him for days left to toss upon a stormy sea, obliged to stand guard over the treacherous seaman, and at last when the deliverance comes, there is no heavenly galley sailing from the skies to take off the noble prisoner; there is no angel form walking along the waters and stilling the raging breakers; there is no supernatural sign of the transcendent miracle that is being wrought; but one is compelled to seize a spar, another a floating plank, another to climb on a fragment of the wreck, another to strike out and swim for his life.

Here is God’s pattern for our own lives. Here is a Gospel of help for people that have to live in this every day world with real and ordinary surroundings, and a thousand practical conditions which have to be met in a thoroughly practical way.

God’s promises and God’s providences do not lift us out of the plane of common sense and commonplace trial, but it is through these very things that faith is perfected, and that God loves to interweave the golden threads of His love along the warp and woof of our every day experience.

[Hard Places in the Way of Faith]