Monday, April 30, 2007
Elizabeth Skoglund (see link at the left) has penned an extremely helpful book, "Bright Days, Dark Nights" in which she tackles subjects like depression, loneliness, anxiety and change. She quotes extensively from the writings of the great preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon who was no stranger to extended periods of dark depression. The following quote was illuminating and reassured me that when we go through the dark valleys, we are fitted and equipped to take the hands of others and lead them through when they face similar situations.
“I often feel very grateful to God that I have undergone fearful depressions of spirits. I know the borders of despair, and the horrible brink of that gulf of darkness into which my feet have almost gone; but hundreds of times I have been able to give a helpful grip to brethren and sisters who have come into that same condition, which grip I could never have given if I had not known their deep despondency. So I believe that the darkest and most dreadful experience of a child of God will help him to be a fisher of men if he will but follow Christ. Keep close to the Lord and He will make every step a blessing to you.” – Charles H. Spurgeon
Whatever the mountain that looms before you or the valley that you're struggling through, understand that a loving Father is walking every step with you and will use this "dark" time to enable you to help others. You are NOT alone. Take His hand and trust His heart.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
This morning I read Amy Carmichael's poem THY WAY IS PERFECT in her book of collected poems entitled MOUNTAIN BREEZES.
"Long is the way, and very steep the slope;
Strengthen me once again, O God of Hope.
Far, very far, the summit doth appear;
But Thou art near, my God, but Thou are near.
And Thou wilt give me with my daily food,
Powers of endurance, courage, fortitude.
Thy way is perfect; only let that way
Be clear before my feet from day to day.
Thou art my Portion, saith my soul to Thee,
Oh, what a Portion is my God to me!"
"As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is tried: He is a buckler to all them that trust in Him." - 2 Samuel 22:31 (KJV)
Sunday, April 22, 2007
Havner said, "God marks across some of our days, 'Will explain later'."
So true! The explanations often aren't forthcoming and we can wait for years without getting the reasons or the answers. C. S. Lewis once said that the most-heard word when we finally get "home" will be "OH!". The explanations (if we even need them) will resolve all our misgivings, doubts and misunderstandings. Personally I believe that the reasons won't have to be articulated by our omniscient God. My sense is that we will instantly understand when we stand before the King of Glory. We won't need to know anything or anyone but Him. We will spend the "ages to come" enjoying the riches of His grace with all our questions left behind.
But, back to Vance Havner . . . I got to preaching there didn't I!
He writes, following the homecall of his beloved wife, "When before the throne we stand in Him complete, all the riddles that puzzle us here will fall into place and we shall know in fulfillment what we now believe in faith - that all things work together for good in His eternal purpose. No longer will we cry "My God, why?" Instead, "alas" will become "Alleluia". All question marks will be straightened into exclamation points, sorrow will change to singing and pain will be lost in praise."
Wow! Vance Havner certainly gives us something to think about and look forward to!
So, dear friends, are we willing to wait for God to explain later? Looking back we'll see that "His appointed way" was truly the best plan.
Eternal God, give us Your strength to stand against the enemies of doubt, defeat and discouragement. Through You we will find grace to help in time of need. Thank You, through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN!
Friday, April 20, 2007
The following is the devotional thought which I received by e-mail today. Yes, we can have...
Confidence in Him
"Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." - Hebrews 4:16 (KJV)
"You can have this confidence in God, and you can have this respect for His will. Do not expect God to perform miracles for you so you can write books about them. Do not ever be caught asking God to send you toys like that to play around with.
But if you are in trouble and concerned about your situation and willing to be honest with God, you can have confidence in Him. You can go to Him in the merit of His Son, claiming His promises, and He will not let you down. God will help you, and you will find the way of deliverance. God will move heaven and earth for you if you will trust Him."
Trust Him today, dear friends! He is trustworthy and you can have...confidence in Him.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
This morning I picked up a copy of Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret from my library shelf. Leafing through the pages I came across two lines by Frances Ridley Havergal (pictured), the renowned poet and hymnwriter.
Here are those two lines:
"Sheaves after sowing, sun after rain,
Sight after mystery, peace after pain."
Hoping there was more to this poem/hymn than just the two lines, I entered "sight after mystery" and did a GOOGLE search. Sure enough, I found a three stanza hymn with words by Havergal and the tune by Ira Sankey.
Here's "the rest of the song":
Light after darkness, gain after loss,
Strength after weakness, crown after cross;
Sweet after bitter, hope after fears,
Home after wandering, praise after tears.
Sheaves after sowing, sun after rain,
Sight after mystery, peace after pain;
Joy after sorrow, calm after blast,
Rest after weariness, sweet rest at last.
Near after distant, gleam after gloom,
Love after loneliness, life after tomb;
After long agony, rapture of bliss,
Right was the pathway, leading to this.
Dear friend, perhaps you haven't reached the "AFTER" yet. You may be in the midst of a savage storm, a lonesome loss, a desolate depression, a tearful trial. Take heart! The "AFTER" is coming. A sovereign God will not leave you abandoned in this seemingly hopeless place. There will be an "AFTER" and when it comes, you (and I) will be able to say with the hymnwriter, "Right was the pathway, leading to this."
I'm praying for you, my readers, today! Thanks for your partnership in prayer as well.
"And AFTER you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you." - 1 Peter 5:10 (ESV)
Monday, April 16, 2007
Throughout the weekend I had an incredible sense that the Father was with me as I walked the tightrope between where I am and where I want to be, occasionally glancing downwards at the frightening rocks and billows below.
During the long, dark night on Saturday, God was dealing with my heart and graciously reminding me that I’m never out of His care or His sight. What a precious sense of His presence and His providential care! Normally terror would have been my dreaded companion but during the night watches I could trace God’s hand as He dealt with my pain.
A reflective piece of prose or poetry kept coming to my mind as I threw myself into the Father’s arms.
Today (Monday) I hesitate to post this for fear that you, my readers, friends and fellow pilgrims, might think that I have finally “arrived”. That I have actually “got it”. That I’ve turned the corner. I wish I could say that I have but I know that there are many more mountains to cross, valleys to stumble through and deep, churning waters to navigate.
Here, then, is what I penned over the weekend. Verses two and three came to me this morning. Please note that the place I’m in hasn’t changed. It’s only my perspective that has…my understanding of a sovereign God’s dealings with His perplexed servant. As we understand Him aright, He can turn the valley of Baca into a refreshing stream. May it be so for each of us as we trust His heart.
Teetering on the precipice
O God…don’t let me slip…
Just above the murky mire
Begging You to take me higher
...Free me from this hellish place
...Where darkness hides Your radiant face.
Father as I contemplate
Reviewing where I am…
This is not what I’d have planned
But I’m held by Your strong hand
...Keep me in this scary place
...Where all I have is sovereign grace.
Learning here to trust Your heart
With nothing left but You…
The vain things that charmed me most
Gradually have all been lost
...Lord I love this sacred place
...Where we commune now…face to face.
- David Fisher
1st verse – April 14th, 2007
2nd & 3rd verses – April 15th, 2007
Note: This post should be read in conjuction with the revelations made in my recent post entitled FAITHFUL FRIENDS in mind.
Thursday, April 12, 2007
"But now, this is what the LORD says—he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead. Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give men in exchange for you, and people in exchange for your life." - Isaiah 43:1-4 (NIV)
Sunday, April 08, 2007
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
Father, make us instruments of hope, encouragement, love and peace as we journey up mountains, through valleys, across deserts and down uncertain pathways. Make us agents of all that You are and give as our lives intersect with Your creatures who don't know their Creator...yet. AMEN!
"May the God of all hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him..." Romans 15:13 (NIV)