Don’t Rush

“Who is among you that feareth Jehovah, that obeyeth the voice of his servant? He that walketh in darkness and hath no light, let him trust in the name of Jehovah and rely upon his God” (Isa. 50:10, RV).

What shall the believer do in times of darkness–the darkness of perplexity and confusion, not of heart but of mind? Times of darkness come to the faithful and believing disciple who is walking obediently in the will of God; seasons when he does not know what to do, nor which way to turn. The sky is overcast with clouds. The clear light of Heaven does not shine upon his pathway. One feels as if he were groping his way in darkness.

Beloved, is this you? What shall the believer do in times of darkness? Listen! “Let him trust in the name of the Lord, and rely upon his God.”

The first thing to do is do nothing. This is hard for poor human nature to do. In the West there is a saying that runs thus, “When you’re rattled, don’t rush”; in other words, “When you don’t know what to do, don’t do it.”

When you run into a spiritual fog bank, don’t tear ahead; slow down the machinery of your life. If necessary, anchor your bark or let it swing at its moorings. We are to simply trust God. While we trust, God can work. Worry prevents Him from doing anything for us. If our minds are distracted and our hearts distressed; if the darkness that overshadows us strikes terror to us; if we run hither and yon in a vain effort to find some way of escape out of a dark place of trial, where Divine providence has put us, the Lord can do nothing for us.

The peace of God must quiet our minds and rest our hearts. We must put our hand in the hand of God like a little child, and let Him lead us out into the bright sunshine of His love.
He knows the way out of the woods. Let us climb up into His arms, and trust Him to take us out by the shortest and surest road.–Dr. Pardington

Remember we are never without a pilot when we know not how to steer.

“Hold on, my heart, in thy believing–
The steadfast only wins the crown;
He who, when stormy winds are heaving,
Parts with its anchor, shall go down;
But he who Jesus holds through all,
Shall stand, though Heaven and earth should fall.

“Hold out! There comes an end to sorrow;
Hope from the dust shall conquering rise;
The storm foretells a summer’s morrow;
The Cross points on to Paradise;
The Father reigneth! cease all doubt;
Hold on, my heart, hold on, hold out.”

Ye shall not go out. Lev 8:33

For seven days Aaron and his sons, newly consecrated by the blood and oil, waited together in the Holy Place. They were prohibited from going beyond the door, but fed on the consecrated food till the eighth day summoned them to begin their priestly duties. Similarly we are shut in with our Great Aaron, the High Priest of our profession. We are in Christ in the purposes of God, for we were chosen in Him before the foundation of the world. We are in Him, as Noah was in the ark, and as the child is in the home; as the member is in the body, and the branch in the vine; as the sponge in the ocean, or the jewel in the sunbeam. We are in Him as a strong enclosure, through which the malice and strength of our foes cannot break – a fortress, a strong tower, a castle keep. We are in Him, as a banqueting-hall, a Tabernacle with its shewbread, an upper room with its descending fire.

It is highly necessary that we should maintain our walk and experience on this blessed elevation. The great enemy of our souls is perpetually tempting us to leave our abiding-place, and to try issues with him in the plains beneath. What is temptation but his subtle solicitation to come out from the secret place of the Most High. Beware! the bait may be very attractive, but the end is death. Keep the charge of the Lord, and abide day and night in the company of the Great High Priest. “He shall dwell among them.”

On what viands do such happy souls feast with Christ! A table is provided before them by the Lord Himself, and they feast on all that pertains to Him in blessed partnership. “Son, thou art ever with Me, and all that I have is thine.”

“Many shall be purified and made white and tried” (Dan. xii. 10).

This is the promise for the Lord’s coming. It is more than purity. It is to be made white, lustrous, or bright. To be purified is to have the sin burned out; to be made white is to have the glory of the Lord burned in. The one is cleansing, the other is illumination and glorification. The Lord has both for us, but in order for us to have both, we must be put into the fire to be tried, and to be led into difficult and peculiar places where Christ shall be more to us because of the very extremity of the situation. We are approaching these days. Indeed, they are already around us, and they are the precursors of the Lord’s coming.

Blessed is he that keepeth his garments lest he walk naked.

There are voices in the air, filling men with hope and fear;
There are signals everywhere that the end is drawing near,
There are warnings to prepare, for the King will soon be here;
O it must be the coming of the Lord!

“He shall dwell on high” (Isa. xxxiii. 16).

It is easier for a consecrated Christian to live an out and out life for God than to live a mixed life. A soul redeemed and sanctified by Christ is too large for the shoals and sands of a selfish, worldly, sinful life. The great steamship, St. Paul, could sail in deep water without an effort, but she could make no progress in the shallow pool, or on the Long Branch sands; the smallest tugboat is worth a dozen of her there; but out in mid-ocean she could distance them in an hour.

Beloved, your life is too large, too glorious, too divine for the small place that you are trying to live in. Your purpose is too petty; arise and dwell on high in the resurrection life of Jesus, and the inspiring hope of His blessed coming.

Rise with thy risen Lord,
Ascend with Christ above,
And in the heavenlies walk with Him,
Whom seeing not, you love.

Walk as a heavenly race,
Princes of royal blood;
Walk as the children of the light,
The sons and heirs of God.

That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ.” Philippians 1:10

If divine light has enlightened your mind, divine life quickened your heart, and you love the Lord and his people, you must approve of the things that are excellent. For they are so commended to your conscience that you can no more do otherwise than you can tell a deliberate lie or call black white. And as you approve of them, you will disapprove of everything which is contrary to, or falls short of this excellency. Now this is what distinguishes us from the world and the spirit of it, and from all whose eyes are blinded by the god of this world–that whilst they approve of the things God abhors, we approve of the things that God loves. Here is the mind of Christ; here is the teaching of the Spirit giving us in some measure to see as Christ sees, to feel as Christ feels, to love as Christ loves, and to approve as Christ approves. We shall never go far wrong so long as we are approving the things that are excellent, and seeking, as the Lord may enable, to know the will of God and do it. But directly we lose sight of this spiritual standard and set up the opinion of men, then our eyes get blinded, our hearts hardened, our consciences benumbed, and instead of approving the things that are excellent, we may gradually and insensibly drift into the very spirit of ungodliness

The Child in the Midst

And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them–Mat 18:2

Jesus’ Love for Children

I want to speak on Jesus and the child to show you out of the Bible story how precious childhood was to Jesus Christ. And I want to do it just that we may feel that when the Church which is His body tends the children it is certain to have the blessing of the Master.

First, then, we may find how Jesus valued them by the loving way in which He had observed them. With a quick eye and with a loving heart He had been watching them when they never dreamed of it. You can tell how closely He had watched the world by the exquisite beauty of His parables. You can tell how closely He had watched His nation from His certainty that ruin was impending. And so by innumerable incidental references, occurring everywhere throughout His teaching, you can tell how closely He had watched the child. He had watched the mother fondling her babe, and in her joy forgetting all her agony. He had watched the children playing in the market place, and sulking, and quarrelling with each other. And He had watched the boy, when school was over, hurrying home and asking for a piece of bread, and always getting it and not a stone. For Christ the coming ruin was doubly terrible just because children were to be involved in it. For Christ there was no test of loyalty more searching than that a man should love Him more than he loved his children. And all these references to the little people, these recognitions of them in unexpected moments, show you how dear they were to Jesus Christ. That is one of the great and striking differences between the Gospels and the Epistles of Paul. You would never gather from the Pauline letters that the writer was a lover of the child. But when you follow Jesus through the Gospels, when you see how He had observed the ways of children, when you mark the niceness of His references to them, as of One who had watched them for Himself, why then you feel at once that here was One for whom there was a joy for every child. He loved the little as deeply as the lost.

The Busy Jesus Had Time for the Child

Again, the same impression is intensified when we think of the access He gave them to His presence. There was never a more crowded life than His, and yet He always had leisure for the child. The fact is, friends, that in the life of Christ that air of leisure always is amazing. With such a mighty work for God to do, might you not reasonably expect some sign of strain. And yet the one thing that took the hearts of men, and awed them as with the touch of heaven, was just the infinite restfulness that clothed Him. He had a baptism to be baptised with, yet had He leisure for the summer lilies. He had but three short years to do His work, yet He had eyes for the sparrow when it fell. He had to ransom from the power of darkness men and women who were the slaves of Satan, yet always had He leisure for the child. The fact is that Christ like all of us, always had leisure for the thing He loved. It is in the heart rather than in the clock that there lies the secret of the leisure hour. And so when in the midst of all His stress, you find that Christ gave access to the children, you may learn certainly how much He loved them. It is but seldom in the Gospel story that you read of Christ as being much displeased. The impression made upon you there is this, that it took something mighty to stir Him to the depths. Yet one of the rare occasions in the Gospel when we do read that Christ was much displeased was when the disciples sought to keep the children back. It was not done in anger but in kindness. They were distressed because Christ was overburdened. Here was something they could save Him from, as if a mortal man could save the Saviour. But Christ for once made no account of motive, found no excuse in an intended kindliness; He chided His followers because they sought to bar Him from the child. My brother, there was something divine in that; but there was also something human. They were trying to keep from Him, although they knew it not, the very company in which He most delighted. And that–that constant leisure for the child, that open access in the busiest day, is another sweet and subtle indication of the value of the children in His eyes.

Jesus Loved to Help Children When They Suffered

This impression once again is deepened by the appeal which the sufferings of children made to Him. He not only loved to watch them when they played; but He also loved to help them when they suffered. There were some appeals which Jesus disregarded, as that of the man who wanted a judgment on his property. There were some prayers that Jesus would not listen to, as when the healed demoniac prayed that he might follow Him. But the one prayer that carried Him by storm, the one appeal He never could finally resist, was when a father or a mother came and used the words “My son”–“my little daughter.” Everything else must stand aside if it be a child that cries for healing. He cares not what all the mourners think of Him when He asks them unceremoniously to leave the room. With an intensity that we shall never fathom, because our hearts at their warmest are but cold, Christ felt the sufferings of little children. The first healing miracle He wrought was wrought not on a man but on a child. The only cure He gave outside of Israel was given to a little Gentile girl. Of His three rescues from the grip of death, it was only Lazarus who was an adult. The other two who were brought back again were young. You recall the scene on the Mount of Transfiguration, and how Peter would have had Him stay there forever. But Jesus could not stay and would not stay simply because the world was calling Him. And so He descended from the Mount of Glory to take up His cross again and be obedient, and the first to meet Him was an epileptic boy. It is as if, transfigured on the hill, He had heard the calling of the child. It is as if the writhings of that lad had pierced the radiance that en-wrapped Him there. And so may we learn, brethren, if we will, from that irresistible appeal of childish suffering, how near and dear the children were to Christ.

Jesus Delighted in the Services of Children

That impression received further vividness when we recall how Christ delighted in their services. He sometimes refused the service of a man; He never refused the service of a child. There is an excellent sermon by Mr. Spurgeon on Christ refusing first offers of service. Strange though it may seem, He sometimes did that, and sometimes He is doing it today. But the one service that He welcomed eagerly, and never checked, and never thought unworthy, was the sweet service of the little people. “There is a lad here,” said Andrew to Him. I think that one word “lad” was all Christ wanted. There is a lad here with five small loaves, and he wants us to take them and make the best of them. I take it that Andrew was intensely tickled at a lad’s luncheon for five thousand people; but it was just the thing that Jesus loved. He would not add a scrap to that small store. He wanted to use the offering of the boy. He wanted to show them that in Messiah’s kingdom a little child shall lead them. And if that were so out on the hills of Galilee, how much more truly so in the last days, when the children flocked to the triumphal entry, and cried “Hosanna to the Son of David.” Men had wanted to cry that before, and on every such occasion Christ had checked them. They had wanted to hail Him as Messiah, and Jesus had refused to be so hailed. But now the children break into that service–for praise is service just as much as alms, and Christ with a glad heart accepts of it. Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings He felt that God was perfecting His praise. There was hope for the future, though the Cross was coming, when He had won the hearts of little children. We all long to be loved by those we love. We are proud and happy when they praise us. And it was just because Jesus loved the children that their shouting was like music in His ear.

Christ’s Estimate of the Child Spirit

The same impression is confirmed again by the estimate which Christ made of the child spirit. It was in the child that Jesus found the type of the true citizen of the heavenly kingdom. “Suffer the little children to come to Me, for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Except ye become as little children, ye cannot even see the kingdom. To enter the kingdom it is by no means necessary that a child should grow into a man. But to enter the kingdom it is always necessary that a man should grow into a child. Christ did not speak of the innocence of childhood. That innocence is gone and gone forever. He came to call the sinners to repentance. His kingdom is a kingdom for the lost. He was thinking of the receptiveness of childhood, of its glorious freedom from the worldly spirit, of the love that fills it, of the hope that stirs it, of its simplicity and sublimity of faith. To you and me, my brother, that is commonplace; but remember it is Christ who made it so. As dearly as the Jew had loved his children, he had never seen that glory in his children. It was Christ who was the first to see it. It was Christ who drew it into the light of day. And now we see it, and we reverence childhood because we are looking at it with His eyes. When a man is far from home, in a strange country, he loves whatever reminds him of his home. Some glimpse of hill, some blossom like the heather, will bring a tenderness into his heart. And that, I think, was why Christ loved the children, and was always so exquisitely tender with them. He was a stranger in a distant land here, and the children reminded Him of home. Of such is the kingdom of heaven–the kingdom here, the kingdom in the glory. I say unto you that in heaven, yonder, their angels are looking on the Father’s face. Brethren, with such deep words from Jesus’ heart is it any wonder the child is precious now? Is it any wonder that the Church which is His body gives of her best and noblest to their service?

“Feed the Lambs” Comes before “Feed the Sheep.”

And then this ever-deepening impression is crowned when Christ risen from the dead. “Simon, Son of Jonas, lovest thou “Yea, Lord”; then, “Feed my lambs.” Then twice over Simon was bidden feed the sheep. That repetition has the note of urgency. But it is not the sheep that are first mentioned, mark you. First of all is “Feed my lambs. “Still in the forefront of the love of Jesus, unchanged by Calvary and by the grave, still deep within His heart, there are the children. My brother and sister, there are many voices that say to us today, “Amuse the children.” But this is the glory of the love of Christ that its command is “Feed the children.” And this is the wonder of the Christian Gospel that, with great depths in it that none can fathom, it is so simple in its central message that you can tell it to the little child. Tell it, you mothers, to your children, then. Tell it, you Sabbath teachers, to your classes. Let your class witness when you meet in heaven that you were not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ. So let us prosecute our work with patience, remembering how Jesus loved the children. So let us welcome the glad song of Christmas, “Unto us a child is born.”

Service of Waiting

“After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithyma: but the Spirit suffered them not” (Acts 16:7).

What a strange prohibition! These men were going into Bithynia just to do Christ’s work, and the door is shut against them by Christ’s own Spirit. I, too, have experienced this in certain moments. I have sometimes found myself interrupted in what seemed to me a career of usefulness. Opposition came and forced me to go back, or sickness came and compelled me to retire into a desert apart.

It was hard at such times to leave my work undone when I believed that work to be the service of the Spirit. But I came to remember that the Spirit has not only a service of work, but a service of waiting. I came to see that in the Kingdom of Christ there are not only times for action, but times in which to forbear acting. I came to learn that the desert place apart is often the most useful spot in the varied life of man–more rich in harvest than the seasons in which the corn and wine abounded. I have been taught to thank the blessed Spirit that many a darling Bithynia had to be left unvisited by me.

And so, Thou Divine Spirit, would I still be led by Thee. Still there come to me disappointed prospects of usefulness. Today the door seems to open into life and work for Thee; tomorrow it closes before me just as I am about to enter.

Teach me to see another door in the very inaction of the hour. Help me to find in the very prohibition thus to serve Thee, a new opening into Thy service. Inspire me with the knowledge that a man may at times be called to do his duty by doing nothing, to work by keeping still, to serve by waiting. When I remember the power of the “still small voice,” I shall not murmur that sometimes the Spirit suffers me not to go. –George Matheson

“When I cannot understand my Father’s leading,
And it seems to be but hard and cruel fate,
I Still I hear that gentle whisper ever
pleading,God is working, God is faithful, ONLY WAIT.”