Unless ye become as little children…

It is so intriguing to observe children–especially when one observes them with the mind that we are to be as little children in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Specifically in the area of intellect.

“…Verily I say unto you, except ye be converted, and become as little children ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3

A child trusts. They ask something of their parents fully believing it will be given–“Can I have some water?” And when something is told them–“We’re going to the zoo tomorrow!”–they go to sleep the night before without a doubt in their mind that they will indeed be going to the zoo the next day. When something is offered to them–“I bought you this toy!”–they take it, fully accepting that if told it is for them, that they can take it.

How unlike children we so often are! We reason and hem-haw about things, we don’t feel like things are how we’re told they are or will be. We lack trust.

God’s promises are true. The Holy Spirit bears witness of this–and in Him are all the promises of God “yea” and “Amen!” Unto the glory of God.

What God has promised will be fulfilled. What God has spoken is truth and absolute fact. What God has given us is indeed ours for the taking.

When God has given something for us to accept, it doesn’t necessitate hours of agony and wondering and questioning–it is there for the taking. We have but to rise up and accept what has been offered.

A quote from a story which I will add later really struck me today when I was reading it:

“As you took forgiveness from the hand of the dying Christ, take the [promises of God as fact] from the hand of the living Christ.”

So many people struggle with this–myself included. God has given so much, and yet we struggled to receive.

It doesn’t seem like those promises are for me. I don’t feel any different. It seems to easy.

God, make me like a child! A child willing to stand up and take what has been offered. To trust the One who is trustworthy above all else!

Here is the story I mentioned above. It is the perspective of a preacher of old:

I had been for a long time a minister in Leicester, with a large church and of considerable influence in the city, but very unhappy.  Conscious that I had not received the power of the Holy Ghost, I went to Keswick.  A great number of God’s people gathered there to seek and to receive the power of the Holy Spirit, and they elected to have a prayer meeting from nine o’clock to eleven and onwards, to pray for the Holy Ghost.  A great many people were there agonizing.  I was too tired to agonize and I felt that God did not want me to agonize hour after hour, but I had to learn to take; that God wanted to give, and I had only to take.

Tomorrow your little girl will come down to breakfast.  She is very hungry, and the bread and milk or the oatmeal is on the table.  You do not say: “Little girlie, run upstairs and agonize, roll on the floor for an hour, and then come down.”  You say to her: “Little one, I am so glad you have a good appetite.  Now there is your chair; in you get, say your prayer, and start away.”
That is what God says to the soul.  Those whole nights of prayer for the Holy Ghost are principally necessary to get people who pray into a fit condition to receive the Holy Ghost; for when the people are ready, the Holy Ghost will come without agonizing.

So I left that prayer meeting, and crept out into the lane, and away from the town.  As I walked I said, “O my God, if there is a man who needs the power of the Holy Ghost to rest upon him it is I; but I do not know how to receive Him.  I am too tired, too worn, too nervously down to agonize.”  A voice said to me, “As you took forgiveness from the hand of the dying Christ, take the Holy Ghost from the hand of the living Christ.”

I turned to Christ and said, “Lord, as I breathe in this whiff of warm night air, so I breathe into every part of me Thy blessed Spirit.”  I felt no hand laid upon my head, there was no lambent flame, there was no rushing sound from heaven; but by faith, without emotion, without excitement, I took, and took for the first time, and I have kept on taking ever since.

I turned to leave the mountain side, and as I went down the tempter said: “You have got nothing.  It is just moonlight.”  I said: “I have.”  He said: “Do you feel it?”  “I do not feel it, but I reckon that God is faithful, and He could not have brought a hungry soul to claim faith, and then give a stone for bread, and a scorpion for a fish.  I know I have got it because God led me to claim it.”

When I was in Africa, I talked to the Mamas who worked at the orphanage where I was staying. Some of them had horrific stories of things that they had been through personally and with their families. Siblings being taken as child-soldiers and then killed. Parents who had been repeatedly raped and then left for dead. Husbands who had been shot point-blank in front of them. Children who had been electrocuted. And at the end of their stories, three of these ladies in particular ended with tears in their eyes, and the statement: “My God is faithful and good, and I trust Him!”

I didn’t sleep that night.

How could these women who had endured trials beyond anything I can even imagine still have more trust and faith in God than hardly anyone I had ever seen? I questioned them about it the next time we talked while folding laundry.

“What’s the secret?”

“I read the Bible and I believe it. My God is good. He has said He is and will be good and faithful. He keeps His promises. You should read the Bible and read His promises and believe them. Take them for you.

The faith and trust of a little child, no matter the circumstances around. It doesn’t matter if it feel like God is good. It doesn’t matter if it looks like God is faithful.

It cannot be based on feeling. We must base our trust and faith in our God on fact. Feelings and emotions won’t always line up–but what is more trustworthy: emotions or the Word of God? And once we experience the fullness of God’s goodness, faithfulness, and trustworthiness, emotions and feelings will definitely line up.

You won’t be able to keep from shouting the utter goodness of your God from the rooftops!

“For all the promises of God in Him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.” 2 Corinthians 1:20

“[Abraham] staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; and being fully persuaded that, what He had promised, He was able also to perform.” Romans 4:20

“Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for He is faithful that promised;)” Hebrews 10:23

“Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it.” 1 Thessalonians 5:24

“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, Who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13

“Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.” Ephesians 3:20

“Know therefore that the LORD thy God, He is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love Him and keep His commandments to a thousand generations.” Deuteronomy 7:9

“But the Lord is faithful, Who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil.” 2 Thessalonians 3:3

“Is anything too hard for the Lord?…” Genesis 18:14a

“…Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” Genesis 18:25b

“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:” Ephesians 1:3

“But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly placed in Christ Jesus;” Ephesians 2:8

“Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” Philippians 1:6

Anguish

Do I honestly believe what I say I believe? Do I care and love the way I like to think I do? Do I know the reality of the world I live in?

The other evening I innocently happened across a city-wide zombie-thon thing in the old-town district of a neighboring city. There was death and gore literally walking the streets. I felt like I was looking at the inner souls of these people–not just the facade of sweetness and everday-ness that is so easy to assume, but the true inner workings of their being. I saw the utter lostness, the darkness and depravity of this world walking the streets right in front of me. This is who these people are on the inside–and I was surrounded by it on all sides. There they were, supposedly alive, and yet walking in death. The stark reality of it all hit me like hardly anything ever has before.

But, oh Jesus, where is the anguish of my soul? I feel so cold and dry sometimes. If what I believe about You is a reality in me, then where is the anguish? Why don’t I feel overwhelming distress at the thought of souls lost in darkness apart from You?

I feel passionate, and yet I’m still so passive. The reality of my life is still so apathetic and lethargic. Anguish is not just a flash of emotion, a concern for what is happening. Anguish is the utter agony of soul–deep pain, distress at the highest level. And I don’t have that right now.

God, I don’t want to be blind to lukewarmness. I refuse to turn a blind eye to the lostness of this world. Jesus, I long for that agony of soul–that anguish of heart. Break my heart, Jesus. Keep me awake at night, unable to sleep for the very fact that Your name is being blasphemed and mocked in this generation! The very knowledge that approximately 5,000 people have died just during the time it has taken me to write this blog post–how many of them have gone to an eternity without You? And here I sit . . .

When I don’t feel anguish over the things that You feel anguish over, it is equivalent to standing by and watching as person after person walks unknowingly into the way of an oncoming train–and I am sitting by watching complacently as they walk to their death. If I truly believed what I say I believe about God, His name, His word, heaven and hell, and the reality of truth . . . wouldn’t I be desperate to tell everyone I see? Shouldn’t I be completely overcome with passion to tell of God’s glory and the awesome good news that God has made so clear to me? Wouldn’t I be running the streets like a raving lunatic proclaiming the truth to anyone who might hear and be saved from damnation and eternal darkness?

God, I don’t have it. I’m not where I need to be. Joy comes from anguish. Grant me that anguish of soul and heart, God! I need to be broken and spilled on Your alter. Grant me this, Jesus . . . grant me this anguish. This desperation. This distress. This deep pain. I want this, God. I long for Your heart and Your burden!

If souls are going to end up in hell, let it at least be over my exhausted body. If hell is going to claim someone, let it be not without a fight. Oh, that not one soul would end up apart from God without having heard the knowledge of truth!

A quote from an old “mighty” in the faith: “Some wish to live within the sound of a chapel bell, but, Lord, I want to set up a rescue shop within a yard of hell!”

Jesus, let that be my prayer. The true cry of my heart!

The Untitled Poem

Do you hear the cry of my heart, God–
Do you hear its silent cry?
The ache which overwhelms threatens to unleash
The unshed tears that never reach the eye.

God Almighty
My King and Redeemer.
Endless swells of love and compassion,
Guidance and strength
From the fountain of His Spirit.
He is ever faithful!

Never quench this deep hunger,
This longing of soul.
To know You more deeply
To see You more clearly.
Release my tongue to tell
Of Your goodness, Your faithfulness.
Your promises unbreakable
To those who will stand.
Believe.

These desires, these passions.
Is this my heart or Yours, beating in me?
The sweetness I taste of You while
On this earth
Is but a taste of the majesty
I will behold when on heavenly
Plains I walk.
I glory in You, Jesus, King of glory!
The quiet sanctuary of devotion
leaves no thought of danger or risk
in the life surrendered to You.
Make me bold to approach
The formidable lair of the enemy.
With You at my side,
I will not fall.
Risk is not risk, but a calling;
To save the distressed, to reach out,
To love the unloved, to wash the feet of the saints.

I love you, Sweet Jesus.