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

Himself

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

Streams in The Desert

My Father’s Giving

Prove me now

~ Mal 3:10

What is God saying here but this: “My child, I still have windows in Heaven. They are yet in service. The bolts slide as easily as of old. The hinges have not grown rusty. I would rather fling them open, and pour forth, than keep them shut, and hold back. I opened them for Moses, and the sea parted. I opened them for Joshua, and Jordan rolled back. I opened them for Gideon, and hosts fled. I will open them for you, if you will only let Me. On this side of the windows, Heaven is the same rich storehouse as of old. The fountains and streams still overflow. The treasure rooms are still bursting with gifts. The lack is not on my side. It is on yours. I am waiting. Prove Me now. Fulfill the conditions, on your part. Bring in the tithes. Give Me a chance.

~ Selected

I can never forget my mother’s very brief paraphrase of Malachi 3:10. The verse begins, “Bring ye the whole tithe in,” and it ends up with “I will pour” the blessing out till you’ll be embarrassed for space. Her paraphrase was this: Give all He asks; take all He promises.”

~ S. D. Gordon

The ability of God is beyond our prayers, beyond our largest prayers! I have been thinking of some of the petitions that have entered into my supplication innumerable times. What have I asked for? I have asked for a cupful, and the ocean remains! I have asked for a sunbeam, and the sun abides! My best asking falls immeasurably short of my Father’s giving: it is beyond that we can ask.

~ J. H. Jowett

“All the rivers of Thy grace I claim,  
Over every promise write my name” (Eph. 1:8-19).

Streams in The Desert

There We Saw the Giants

There we saw the giants ~ Num 13:33

Yes, they saw the giants, but Caleb and Joshua saw God! Those who doubt say, “We be not able to go up.” Those who believe say, “Let us go up at once and possess it, for we are well able.”

Giants stand for great difficulties; and giants are stalking everywhere. They are in our families, in our churches, in our social life, in our own hearts; and we must overcome them or they will eat us up, as these men of old said of the giants of Canaan.

The men of faith said, “They are bread for us; we will eat them up.” In other words, “We will be stronger by overcoming them than if there had been no giants to overcome.”

Now the fact is, unless we have the overcoming faith we shall be eaten up, consumed by the giants in our path. Let us have the spirit of faith that these men of faith had, and see God, and He will take care of the difficulties.

~ Selected

It is when we are in the way of duty that we find giants. It was when Israel was going forward that the giants appeared. When they turned back into the wilderness they found none.

There is a prevalent idea that the power of God in a human life should lift us above all trials and conflicts. The fact is, the power of God always brings a conflict and a struggle. One would have thought that on his great missionary journey to Rome, Paul would have been carried by some mighty providence above the power of storms and tempests and enemies. But, on the contrary, it was one long, hard fight with persecuting Jews, with wild tempests, with venomous vipers and all the powers of earth and hell, and at last he was saved, as it seemed, by the narrowest margin, and had to swim ashore at Malta on a piece of wreckage and barely escape a watery grave.

Was that like a God of infinite power? Yes, just like Him. And so Paul tells us that when he took the Lord Jesus Christ as the life of his body, a severe conflict immediately came; indeed, a conflict that never ended, a pressure that was persistent, but out of which he always emerged victorious through the strength of Jesus Christ.

The language in which he describes this is most graphic. “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed, always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be manifested in our body.”

What a ceaseless, strenuous struggle! It is impossible to express in English the forcible language of the original. There are five pictures in succession. In the first, the idea is crowding enemies pressing in from every side, and yet not crushing him because the police of heaven cleared the way just wide enough for him to get through. The literal translation would be, “We are crowded on every side, but not crushed.”

The second picture is that of one whose way seems utterly closed and yet he has pressed through; there is light enough to show him the next step. The Revised Version translates it, “Perplexed but not unto despair.” Rotherham still more literally renders it, “Without a way, but not without a by-way.”

The third figure is that of an enemy in hot pursuit while the divine Defender still stands by, and he is not left alone. Again we adopt the fine rendering of Rotherham, “Pursued but not abandoned.”

The fourth figure is still more vivid and dramatic. The enemy has overtaken him, has struck him, has knocked him down. But it is not a fatal blow; he is able to rise again. It might be translated, “Overthrown but not overcome.”

Once more the figure advances, and now it seems to be even death itself, “Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus.” But he does not die, for “the life also of Jesus” now comes to his aid and he lives in the life of another until his life work is done.

The reason so many fail in this experience of divine healing is because they expect to have it all without a struggle, and when the conflict comes and the battle wages long, they become discouraged and surrender. God has nothing worth having that is easy. There are no cheap goods in the heavenly market. Our redemption cost all that God had to give, and everything worth having is expensive. Hard places are the very school of faith and character, and if we are to rise over mere human strength and prove the power of life divine in these mortal bodies, it must be through a process of conflict that may well be called the birth travail of a new life. It is the old figure of the bush that burned, but was not consumed, or of the Vision in the house of the Interpreter of the flame that would not expire, notwithstanding the fact that the demon ceaselessly poured water on it, because in the background stood an angel ever pouring oil and keeping the flame aglow.

No, dear suffering child of God, you cannot fail if only you dare to believe, to stand fast and refuse to be overcome.

~ Tract

Streams in The Desert

Limp Hands and Feeble Knees

Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; and make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.

~  Heb 12:12-13

This is God’s word of encouragement to us to lift up the hands of faith, and confirm the knees of prayer. Often our faith grows tired, languid, and relaxed, and our prayers lose their force and effectiveness.

The figure used here is a very striking one. The idea seems to be that we become discouraged and so timid that a little obstacle depresses and frightens us, and we are tempted to walk around it, and not face it: to take the easier way.

Perhaps it is some physical trouble that God is ready to heal, but the exertion is hard, or it is easier to secure some human help, or walk around in some other way.

There are many ways of walking around emergencies instead of going straight through them. How often we come up against something that appalls us, and we want to evade the issue with the excuse:

“I am not quite ready for that now.” Some sacrifice is to be made, some obedience demanded, some Jericho to be taken, some soul that we have not the courage to claim and carry through, some prayer that is hanging fire, or perhaps some physical trouble that is half healed and we are walking around it.

God says, “Lift up the hands that hang down.” March straight through the flood, and lo, the waters will divide, the Red Sea will open, the Jordan will part, and the Lord will lead you through to victory.

Don’t let your feet “be turned out of the way,” but let your body “be healed,” your faith strengthened. Go right ahead and leave no Jericho behind you unconquered and no place where Satan can say that he was too much for you. This is a profitable lesson and an intensely practical one. How often have we been in that place. Perhaps you are there today. 

~ A. B. Simpson

Pay as little attention to discouragement as possible. Plough ahead as a steamer does, rough or smooth—rain or shine. To carry your cargo and make your port is the point. 

~ Maltbie D. Babcock

Streams in The Desert

The Eagle That Soars

Feed on his faithfulness

~ Ps 37:3

I once met a poor colored woman, who earned a precarious living by hard daily labor; but who was a joyous triumphant Christian. “Ah, Nancy,” said a gloomy Christian lady to her one day, “it is well enough to be happy now; but I should think the thoughts of your future would sober you.

“Only suppose, for instance, you should have a spell of sickness, and be unable to work; or suppose your present employers should move away, and no one else should give you anything to do; or suppose.”

“Stop!” cried Nancy, “I never supposes. De Lord is my Shepherd, and I knows I shall not want. And, Honey,” she added, to her gloomy friend, “it’s all dem supposes as is makin’ you so mis’able. You’d better give dem all up, and just trust de Lord.”

There is one text that will take all the “supposes” out of a believer’s life, if it be received and acted on in childlike faith; it is Hebrews 13:5, 6: “Be content with such things as ye have: for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.”

~ H. W. S.

“There’s a stream of trouble across my path;  
It is black and deep and wide.  
Bitter the hour the future hath  
When I cross its swelling tide.  
But I smile and sing and say:  
’I will hope and trust alway;  
I’ll bear the sorrow that comes tomorrow,  
But I’ll borrow none today.’  

“Tomorrow’s bridge is a dangerous thing;  
I dare not cross it now.  
I can see its timbers sway and swing,  
And its arches reel and bow.  
O heart, you must hope alway;  
You must sing and trust and say:  
’I’ll bear the sorrow that comes tomorrow,  
But I’ll borrow none today.”’  

The eagle that soars in the upper air does not worry itself as to how it is to cross rivers.

~ Selected

Streams in The Desert

Eternal Glory Struggles

I endure all things for the sake of God’s own people; so that they also may obtain salvation…and with it eternal glory

~ 2 Tim 2:10

If Job could have known as he sat there in the ashes, bruising his heart on this problem of Providence that in the trouble that had come upon him he was doing what one man may do to work out the problem for the world, he might again have taken courage. No man lives to himself. Job’s life is but your life and mine written in larger text….So, then, though we may not know what trials wait on any of us, we can believe that, as the days in which Job wrestled with his dark maladies are the only days that make him worth remembrance, and but for which his name had never been written in the book of life, so the days through which we struggle, finding no way, but never losing the light, will be the most significant we are called to live.

~ Robert Collyer

Who does not know that our most sorrowful days have been amongst our best? When the face is wreathed in smiles and we trip lightly over meadows bespangled with spring flowers, the heart is often running to waste.

The soul which is always blithe and gay misses the deepest life. It has its reward, and it is satisfied to its measure, though that measure is a very scanty one. But the heart is dwarfed; and the nature, which is capable of the highest heights, the deepest depths, is undeveloped; and life presently burns down to its socket without having known the resonance of the deepest chords of joy.

“Blessed are they that mourn.” Stars shine brightest in the long dark night of winter. The gentians show their fairest bloom amid almost inaccessible heights of snow and ice.

God’s promises seem to wait for the pressure of pain to trample out their richest juice as in a wine-press. Only those who have sorrowed know how tender is the “Man of Sorrows.”

~ Selected

Thou hast but little sunshine, but thy long glooms are wisely appointed thee; for perhaps a stretch of summer weather would have made thee as a parched land and barren wilderness. Thy Lord knows best, and He has the clouds and the sun at His disposal. 

~ Selected

“It is a gray day.” “Yes, but dinna ye see the patch of blue?”

~ Scotch Shoemaker

Streams in The Desert

Pressing Forward

I was crushed…so much so that I despaired even of life, but that was to make me rely not on myself, but on the God who raises the dead 

~ 2 Cor 1:8-9

“Pressed out of measure and pressed to all length;  
Pressed so intensely it seems, beyond strength;  
Pressed in the body and pressed in the soul,  
Pressed in the mind till the dark surges roll.  
Pressure by foes, and a pressure from friends.  
Pressure on pressure, till life nearly ends.  

“Pressed into knowing no helper but God;  
Pressed into loving the staff and the rod.  
Pressed into liberty where nothing clings;  
Pressed into faith for impossible things.  
Pressed into living a life in the Lord,  
Pressed into living a Christ-life outpoured.”  

The pressure of hard places makes us value life. Every time our life is given back to us from such a trial, it is like a new beginning, and we learn better how much it is worth, and make more of it for God and man. The pressure helps us to understand the trials of others, and fits us to help and sympathize with them.

There is a shallow, superficial nature, that gets hold of a theory or a promise lightly, and talks very glibly about the distrust of those who shrink from every trial; but the man or woman who has suffered much never does this, but is very tender and gentle, and knows what suffering really means. This is what Paul meant when he said, “Death worketh in you.”

Trials and hard places are needed to press us forward, even as the furnace fires in the hold of that mighty ship give force that moves the piston, drives the engine, and propels that great vessel across the sea in the face of the winds and waves. —A. B. Simpson

“Out of the presses of pain,  
Cometh the soul’s best wine;  
And the eyes that have shed no rain,  
Can shed but little shine.”

Streams in The Desert

Waiting For Resurrection

And there was Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepulchre

~ Matt 27:61

How strangely stupid is grief. It neither learns nor knows nor wishes to learn or know. When the sorrowing sisters sat over against the door of God’s sepulchre, did they see the two thousand years that have passed triumphing away? Did they see anything but this: “Our Christ is gone!”

Your Christ and my Christ came from their loss; Myriad mourning hearts have had resurrection in the midst of their grief; and yet the sorrowing watchers looked at the seed-form of this result, and saw nothing. What they regarded as the end of life was the very preparation for coronation; for Christ was silent that He might live again in tenfold power.

They saw it not. They mourned, they wept, and went away, and came again, driven by their hearts to the sepulchre. Still it was a sepulchre, unprophetic, voiceless, lusterless.

So with us. Every man sits over against the sepulchre in his garden, in the first instance, and says, “This woe is irremediable. I see no benefit in it. I will take no comfort in it.” And yet, right in our deepest and worst mishaps, often, our Christ is lying, waiting for resurrection.

Where our death seems to be, there our Saviour is. Where the end of hope is, there is the brightest beginning of fruition. Where the darkness is thickest, there the bright beaming light that never is set is about to emerge. When the whole experience is consummated, then we find that a garden is not disfigured by a sepulchre. Our joys are made better if there be sorrow in the midst of them. And our sorrows are made bright by the joys that God has planted around about them. The flowers may not be pleasing to us, they may not be such as we are fond of plucking, but they are heart-flowers, love, hope, faith, joy, peace—these are flowers which are planted around about every grave that is sunk in the Christian heart.

“’Twas by a path of sorrows drear  
Christ entered into rest;  
And shall I look for roses here,  
Or think that earth is blessed?  
Heaven’s whitest lilies blow  
From earth’s sharp crown of woe.  
Who here his cross can meekly bear,  
Shall wear the kingly purple there.”