• Pastor Bowler

Rest in the Lord

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” Proverbs 3:5-6 Ancient Greeks, seeking answers to questions they felt could only be settled by their gods, turned to “the Oracles,” which was the name both for the shrine to which the questioner went and for the response he received, which was often an obscure and ambiguous utterance by a priest or priestess. In any case, it was evident that these people felt the need for supernatural guidance, even though what they received must often have disappointed and frustrated them. The Romans, too, had their “college of Augurs,” distinguished men whose duty it was to observe and interpret the signs of approval or disapproval of their gods in matters of public concern. The concept of the word “augur” has become a part of our society, meaning to predict or indicate on the basis of signs or appearances. This desire for supernatural guidance is common to all men, of all ages. I have read of people who bow at a shrine in the Orient, shaking joss sticks, writing down the result and taking it to the priest to be read and interpreted. In many places throughout the world, people express, through superstitious practices, their hope for direction from their objects of worship. There are, of course, many who consider the world and human affairs as entirely haphazard. To them luck and chance are decisive, not any supernatural power or person. Even the devout person sometimes must face the temptation to conclude that there is no special divine concern for him and his need. He prays, but his sickness persists, his crop fails, his loved one dies, his decisions prove unwise, his investments are unprofitable and, if his faith did not see beyond present problems, he would become a spiritual casualty.  What could be more vital and essential to the child of God than the assurance that God is concerned about him and will provide divine guidance and direction in his life, divine comfort and consolation in his trials, divine strength and stamina in his struggles? God deals with His children in wisdom. He promises in the 32nd Psalm: “I will guide thee with mine eye.” This is a promise to those who seek and accept the grace and love God that He will not leave us to circumstances—He will take personal, paternal interest in us and care for us. John Donne, commenting on the statement said, “Except they of God can be put out, we cannot be put out of His sight and His care.” Sometimes, though, God must guide us “as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding; whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle,” as indicated also in this 32nd Psalm. The man who is unresponsive to the purposes of God for his life often finds that God directs him, not with a gentle word and kindly look of the eye—he requires the bit and bridle, even the whip. Balaam, Saul, Jonah and others serve as vivid examples of the guidance by the bit and bridle. Many times our own mulishness has brought upon us God’s severe means of directing us, not because He wants to hurt us but because He wants to order our lives in the best and most profitable way. To be guided by God’s eye involves submission and surrender to His will. There is no factor more essential on the human side, than this. We must say, “Have Thine own way Lord: Thou art the Potter, I am the clay.” To see God’s highest purposes wrought in our lives, we must meet Him at the place of full surrender. Jacob’s affairs were never really manageable until that dawn when he was willing to put away his own stubborn, mulish will and come to terms with God’s will for his life. Then he limped from the place of struggle with a new name, a new vision and and a new power. Jacob was finished; Israel supplanted the old supplanter. We should remember that God’s guidance is a progressive thing, too. He does not pull aside the curtain, and reveal the entire future. He calls us to follow Him step by step, moment by moment. There is a deep meaning in the line of Newman’s hymn, “Lead Kindly Light”—“I do not ask to see the distant scene, One step enough for me.” Abraham, if he had had that hymn, would have said “Amen” to that, for he “went out, not knowing whither he went,” satisfied to know who was guiding him. Abraham would also have appreciated the little verse: “With peaceful heart thy path of duty run. God nothing does, nor suffered to be done But what thou wouldst, thyself, if thou couldst see The end of all events as well as He.” ​Sometimes God is leading us and, like Jacob at Bethel, we “know it not” (Genesis 28:16). We have made plans only to have the seem to fail; we have raised hopes which have fallen to earth. Then, in God’s own good time, He has shown us how His own wise will was prevailing over our foolish purposes, providing something better for us than we had in mind. Surely many of us have had occasion to say, “God was guiding me, even though I could not see it, at the time.” That may be true of you, or me, this very day. One thing is clearly evident. If we want God to guide us, we must ask Him to guide us, and this asking must be done in a spirit of humility, of whole-hearted submission to His will and in an attitude of trust in His wisdom. Remember that the Lord Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, said, “… if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light” (Matthew 6:22). That is an amazing thing. If you have committed yourself to God and you are going down a certain path, doing a certain thing, it is amazing how everything else drops into place. Then your whole body is full of light. Your whole life is full of light at that time. We are never to assume that God will tease and torment us concerning His will. He will not give us a serpent when we ask a fish, or a stone when we ask for bread. At the same time, we should not assume that, because we have to yet received an answer, there is something wrong, something wicked, something lacking, in our hearts. It is part of the genius of faith, and the nature of prayer, to wait. “The highest attitude of any man’s life is to stand waiting for God—for what God will choose to make of him,” said Phillips Brooks. G. Campbell Morgan wrote, “Waiting for God is not laziness. Waiting for God is not going to sleep. Waiting for God is not the abandonment of effort. Waiting for God means: first, activity under command; second, readiness for any new command that may come; third, the ability to do nothing until the command is given.” “If the vision tarry, wait for it” if the answer is delayed, remember that God’s delays are not denials. He will show you His will if you will wait and trust. Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” Proverbs 3:5-6

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