Streams in The Desert

Hedged In

Reckon it nothing but joy…whenever you find yourself hedged in by the various trials, be assured that the testing of your faith leads to power of 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

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

Show Love

Put on as the elect of God, kindness 

~ Col 3:12

There is a story of an old man who carried a little can of oil with him everywhere he went, and if he passed through a door that squeaked, he poured a little oil on the hinges. If a gate was hard to open, he oiled the latch. And thus he passed through life lubricating all hard places and making it easier for those who came after him.

People called him eccentric, queer, and cranky; but the old man went steadily on refilling his can of oil when it became empty, and oiled the hard places he found.

There are many lives that creak and grate harshly as they live day by day. Nothing goes right with them. They need lubricating with the oil of gladness, gentleness, or thoughtfulness. Have you your own can of oil with you? Be ready with your oil of helpfulness in the early morning to the one nearest you. It may lubricate the whole day for him. The oil, of good cheer to the downhearted one Oh, how much it may mean! The word of courage to the despairing. Speak it.

Our lives touch others but once, perhaps, on the road of life; and then, mayhap, our ways diverge, never to meet again, The oil of kindness has worn the sharp, hard edges off of many a sin-hardened life and left it soft and pliable and ready for the redeeming grace of the Saviour.

A word spoken pleasantly is a large spot of sunshine on a sad heart. Therefore, “Give others the sunshine, tell Jesus the rest.”

“We cannot know the grief  
That men may borrow;  
We cannot see the souls  
Storm-swept by sorrow;  
But love can shine upon the way  
Today, tomorrow;  
Let us be kind.  
Upon the wheel of pain so many weary lives are  
We live in vain who give no tender token.  
Let us be kind.”

“Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love” (Rom. 12:10).

Streams in The Desert

Come Close to Him

He took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray, and as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering … they saw his glory

~ Luke 9:29,32

If I have found grace in thy sight, show me thy glory

~ Exod 33:13

When Jesus took these three disciples up into that high mountain apart, He brought them into close communion with Himself. They saw no man but Jesus only; and it was good to be there. Heaven is not far from those who tarry on the mount with their Lord.

Who has not in moments of meditation and prayer caught a glimpse of opening gates? Who has not in the secret place of holy communion felt the rush of some white surging wave of emotion—a foretaste of the joy of the blessed?

The Master had times and places for quiet converse with His disciples, once on the peak of Hermon, but oftener on the sacred slopes of Olivet. Every Christian should have his Olivet. Most of us, especially in the cities and towns, live at hig h pressure. From early morning until bedtime we are exposed to the whirl. Amid all this maelstrom how little chance for quiet thought, for God’s Word, for prayer and heart fellowship!

Daniel needed to have an Olivet in his chamber amid Babylon’s roar and idolatries. Peter found his on a housetop in Joppa; and Martin Luther found his in the “upper room” at Wittenberg, which is still held sacred.

Dr. Joseph Parker once said: “If we do not get back to visions, peeps into heaven, consciousness of the higher glory and the larger life, we shall lose our religion; our altar will become a bare stone, unblessed by visitant from Heaven.” Here is the world’s need today—men who have seen their Lord.

~ The Lost Art of Meditation

Come close to Him! He may take you today up into the mountain top, for where He took Peter with his blundering, and James and John, those sons of thunder who again and again so utterly misunderstood their Master and His mission, there is no reason why He should not take you. So don’t shut yourself out of it and say, “Ah, these wonderful visions and revelations of the Lord are for choice spirits!” They may be for you!

~ John McNeill

Streams in The Desert

Satan’s Tools

Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and, let us run with patience the race that is set before us

~ Heb 12:1

There are weights which are not sins in themselves, but which become distractions and stumbling blocks in our Christian progress. One of the worst of these is despondency. The heavy heart is indeed a weight that will surely drag us down in our holiness and usefulness.

The failure of Israel to enter the land of promise began in murmuring, or, as the text in Numbers literally puts it, “as it were murmured.” Just a faint desire to complain and be discontented. This led on until it blossomed and ripened into rebellion and ruin. Let us give ourselves no liberty ever to doubt God or His love and faithfulness to us in everything and forever.

We can set our will against doubt just as we do against any other sin; and as we stand firm and refuse to doubt, the Holy Spirit will come to our aid and give us the faith of God and crown us with victory.

It is very easy to fall into the habit of doubting, fretting, and wondering if God has forsaken us and if after all our hopes are to end in failure. Let us refuse to be discouraged. Let us refuse to be unhappy. Let us “count it all joy” when we cannot feel one emotion of happiness. Let us rejoice by faith, by resolution, by reckoning, and we shall surely find that God will make the reckoning real.

~ Selected

The devil has two master tricks. One is to get us discouraged; then for a time at least we can be of no service to others, and so are defeated. The other is to make us doubt, thus breaking the faith link by which we are bound to our Father. Lookout! Do not be tricked either way.

~ G.E.M.

Gladness! I like to cultivate the spirit of gladness! It puts the soul so in tune again, and keeps it in tune, so that Satan is shy of touching it—the chords of the soul become too warm, or too full of heavenly electricity, for his infernal fingers, and he goes off somewhere else! Satan is always very shy of meddling with me when my heart is full of gladness and joy in the Holy Ghost.

My plan is to shun the spirit of sadness as I would Satan; but, alas! I am not always successful. Like the devil himself it meets me on the highway of usefulness, looks me so fully in my face, till my poor soul changes color!

Sadness discolors everything; it leaves all objects charmless; it involves future prospects in darkness; it deprives the soul of all its aspirations, enchains all its powers, and produces a mental paralysis!

An old believer remarked, that cheerfulness in religion makes all its services come off with delight; and that we are never carried forward so swiftly in the ways of duty as when borne on the wings of delight; adding, that Melancholy clips such wings; or, to alter the figure, takes off our chariot wheels in duty, and makes them, like those of the Egyptians, drag heavily.

Streams in The Desert

Providence of Loss

It came to pass … that the brook dried up

~ 1 Kgs 17:7

The education of our faith is incomplete if we have not learned that there is a providence of loss, a ministry of failing and of fading things, a gift of emptiness. The material insecurities of life make for its spiritual establishment. The dwindling stream by which Elijah sat and mused is a true picture of the life of each of us. “It came to pass … that the brook dried up”—that is the history of our yesterday, and a prophecy of our morrows.

In some way or other we will have to learn the difference between trusting in the gift and trusting in the Giver. The gift may be good for a while, but the Giver is the Eternal Love.

Cherith was a difficult problem to Elijah until he got to Zarephath, and then it was all as clear as daylight. God’s hard words are never His last words. The woe and the waste and the tears of life belong to the interlude and not to the finale.

Had Elijah been led straight to Zarephath he would have missed something that helped to make him a wiser prophet and a better man. He lived by faith at Cherith. And whensoever in your life and mine some spring of earthly and outward resource has dried up, it has been that we might learn that our hope and help are in God who made Heaven and earth. —F. B. Meyer

Perchance thou, too, hast camped by such sweet waters,  
And quenched with joy thy weary, parched soul’s thirst;  
To find, as time goes on, thy streamlet alters  
From what it was at first.  

Hearts that have cheered, or soothed, or blest, or strengthened;  
Loves that have lavished so unstintedly;  
Joys, treasured joys—have passed, as time hath lengthened,  
Into obscurity.  

If thus, ah soul, the brook thy heart hath cherished  
Doth fail thee now—no more thy thirst assuage—  
If its once glad refreshing streams have perished,  
Let HIM thy heart engage.  

He will not fail, nor mock, nor disappoint thee;  
His consolations change not with the years;  
With oil of joy He surely will anoint thee,  
And wipe away thy tears.  
~ J. D. Smith

Streams in The Desert

In Me

In me … peace – John 16:33

There is a vast difference between happiness and blessedness. Paul had imprisonments and pains, sacrifice and suffering up to the very limit; but in the midst of it all, he was blessed. All the beatitudes came into his heart and life in the midst of those very conditions.

Paganini, the great violinist, came out before his audience one day and made the discovery just as they ended their applause that there was something wrong with his violin. He looked at it a second and then saw that it was not his famous and valuable one.

He felt paralyzed for a moment, then turned to his audience and told them there had been some mistake and he did not have his own violin. He stepped back behind the curtain thinking that it was still where he had left it, but discovered that some one had stolen his and left that old second-hand one in its place. He remained back of the curtain a moment, then came out before his audience and said:

“Ladies and Gentlemen: I will show you that the music is not in the instrument, but in the soul.” And he played as he had never played before; and out of that second-hand instrument, the music poured forth until the audience was enraptured with enthusiasm and the applause almost lifted the ceiling of the building, because the man had revealed to them that music was not in the machine but in his own soul.

It is your mission, tested and tried one, to walk out on the stage of this world and reveal to all earth and Heaven that the music is not in conditions, not in the things, not in externals, but the music of life is in your own soul.

If peace be in the heart,  
The wildest winter storm is full of solemn beauty,  
The midnight flash but shows the 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 the heart.  
~ Charles Francis Richardson

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


He brought me forth also into a large place; he delivered me; because he delighted in me.

~ Ps 18:19

And what is this “large place”? What can it be but God Himself, that infinite Being in whom all other beings and all other streams of life terminate? God is a large place indeed. And it was through humiliation, through abasement, through nothingness that David was brought into it.

~ Madame Guyon

“I bare you on eagle’s wings, and brought you unto myself” (Exod. 19:4).

Fearing to launch on “full surrender’s” tide,  
I asked the Lord where would its waters glide  
My little bark, “To troubled seas I dread?”  
“Unto Myself,” He said.  

Weeping beside an open grave I stood,  
In bitterness of soul I cried to God:  
“Where leads this path of sorrow that I tread?”  
“Unto Myself,” He said.  

Striving for souls, I loved the work too well;  
Then disappointments came; I could not tell  
The reason, till He said, “I am thine all;  
Unto Myself I call.”  

Watching my heroes, those I loved the best,  
I saw them fail; they could not stand the test,  
Even by this the Lord, through tears not few,  
Unto Himself me drew.  

Unto Himself! No earthly tongue can tell  
The bliss I find, since in His heart I dwell;  
The things that charmed me once seem all as naught;  
Unto Himself I’m brought.  
~ Selected

Streams in The Desert

Alone ~ Deut 32:12

“The hill was steep, but cheered along the way  
By converse sweet, I mounted on the thought  
That so it might be till the height was reached;  
But suddenly a narrow winding path  
Appeared, and then the Master said, ’My child,  
Here thou wilt safest walk with Me alone.’  

“I trembled, yet my heart’s deep trust replied,  
’So be it, Lord.’ He took my feeble hand  
In His, accepting thus my will to yield Him  
All, and to find all in Him.  
One long, dark moment,  
And no friend I saw, save Jesus only.  

“But oh! so tenderly He led me on  
And up, and spoke to me such words of cheer,  
Such secret whisperings of His wondrous love,  
That soon I told Him all my grief and fear,  
And leaned on His strong arm confidingly.

“And then I found my footsteps quickened,  
And light ineffable, the rugged way  
Illumined, such light as only can be seen  
In close companionship with God.  

“A little while, and we shall meet again  
The loved and lost; but in the rapturous joy  
Of greetings, such as here we cannot know,  
And happy song, and heavenly embraces,  
And tender recollections rushing back  
Of pilgrim life, methinks one memory  
More dear and sacred than the rest, shall rise,

“And we who gather in the golden streets,  
Shall oft be stirred to speak with grateful love  
Of that dark day when Jesus bade us climb  
Some narrow steep, leaning on Him alone.”  
“There is no high hill but beside some deep valley.  
There is no birth without a pang.”  
~ Dan Crawford