SECRET OF GUIDANCE.
manna only falls where the cloudy pillar broods; but it is certain to be found
on the sands, which a few hours ago were glistening in the flashing light of the
heavenly fire, and are now shadowed by the fleecy canopy of cloud. If we are
precisely where our heavenly Father would have us to be, we are perfectly sure
that He Will provide food and raiment, and everything beside. When He sends His
servants to Cherith, He will make even the ravens to bring them food.
much of our Christian work has been abortive because we have persisted in
initiating it for ourselves, instead of ascertaining what God was doing, and
where He required our presence! We dream bright dreams of success. We try to
command it. We call to our aid all kinds of expedients, questionable or
otherwise. At last we turn back, disheartened and ashamed, like children who are
torn and scratched by the brambles, and soiled by the quagmire. None of this had
come about if only we had been, from the first, under God's unerring guidance.
He might test us, but He could not allow us to mistake.
the child of God, longing to know his Father's will, turns to the sacred Book,
and refreshes his confidence by noticing how in all ages God has guided those
who dared to trust Him up to the very hilt, but who at the time must have been
as perplexed as we are often now. We know how Abraham left kindred and country,
and started, with no other guide than God, across the trackless desert to a land
which he knew not. We know how for forty years the Israelites were led through
the peninsula of Sinai, with its labyrinths of red sandstone and its wastes of
sand. We know how Joshua, in entering the Land of Promise, was able to cope with
the difficulties of an unknown region, and to overcome great and warlike
nations, because he looked to the Captain of the Lord's hosts, who ever leads to
victory. We know how, in the early Church, the Apostles were enabled to thread
their way through the most difficult questions, and to solve the most perplexing
problems, laying down principles which will guide the Church to the end of time;
and this because it was revealed to them as to what they should do and say, by
the Holy Spirit.
3: 6: "In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct (or make plain)
thy paths." A sure word, on which we may rest, if only we fulfil the the
previous conditions of trusting with all our heart, and of not leaning to our
58: 11: "The Lord shall guide thee continually." It is impossible to
think that He could guide us at all if He did not guide us always. For the
greatest events of life, like the huge rocking stones in the West of England,
revolve on the smallest points. A pebble may alter the flow of a stream. The
growth of a grain of mustard seed may determine the rainfall of a continent.
Thus we are bidden to look for a Guidance which shall embrace the whole of life
in all its myriad necessities.
8: 12: "I am the light of the world; he that followeth Me shall not walk in
darkness, but shall have the light of life." The reference here seems to be
to the wilderness wanderings, and the Master promises to be to all faithful
souls, in their pilgrimage to the City of God, what the cloudy pillar was to the
children of Israel on their march to the Land of Promise.
are but specimens. The vault of Scripture is inlaid with thousands such, that
glisten in their measure as the stars which guide the wanderer across the deep.
Well may the prophet sum up the heritage of the servants of the Lord by saying
of the Holy City, "All thy children shall be taught of the Lord, and great
shall be the peace of thy children."
yet it may appear to some tried and timid hearts as if every one mentioned in
the Word of God was helped, but they are left without help. They seem to have
stood before perplexing problems, face to face with life's mysteries, eagerly
longing to know what to do, but no angel has come to tell them, and no iron gate
has opened to them in the prison house of circumstances.
lay the blame on their own stupidity. Their minds are blunt and dull. They
cannot catch God's meaning, which would be clear to others. They are so nervous
of doing wrong that they cannot learn clearly what is right. "Who is blind,
but my servant? or deaf, as my messenger that I sent? Who is blind as he that is
perfect, and blind as the Lord's servant? "Yet, how do we treat our
children? One child is so bright witted and so keen that a little hint is enough
to indicate the way; another was born dull; it cannot take in your meaning
quickly. Do you only let the clever one know what you want? Will you not take
the other upon your knee and make clear to it the directions which baffle it?
Does not the distress of the tiny nursling, who longs to know that it may
immediately obey, weave an almost stronger bond than that which binds you to the
rest? Oh! weary, perplexed and stupid children, believe in the great love of
God, and cast yourselves upon it, sure that He will come down to your ignorance,
and suit Himself to your needs, and will take "the lambs in His arms and
carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those that are with young."
are certain practical directions which we must attend to in order that we may be
led into the mind of the Lord.
OUR MOTIVES MUST BE PURE.
must be very careful in judging our motives, searching them as the detectives at
the doors of the English House of Commons search each stranger who enters. When
by the grace of God we have been delivered from grosser forms of sin, we are
still liable to the subtle working of self in our holiest and loveliest hours.
It poisons our motives. It breathes decay on our fairest fruit bearing. It
whispers seductive flatteries into our pleased ears. It turns the spirit from
its holy purpose, as the masses of iron on ocean steamers deflect the needle of
the compass from the pole.
long as there is some thought of personal advantage, some idea of acquiring the
praise and commendation of men, some aim at self aggrandisement, it will be
simply impossible to find out God's purpose concerning us. The door must be
resolutely shut against all these if we would hear the still small voice. All
cross lights must be excluded if we would see the Urim and Thummim stone
brighten with God's "Yes," or darken with His " No."
the Holy Spirit to give you the single eye, and to inspire in your heart one aim
alone: that which animated our Lord, and enabled Him to cry, as He reviewed His
life, "I have glorified Thee on the earth." Let this be the watchword
of our lives,"Glory to God in the highest." Then our "whole body
shall be full of light, having no part dark, as when the bright shining of a
candle doth give light."
OUR WILL MUST BE SURRENDERED.
is all the difference between a will which is extinguished and one which is
surrendered. God does not demand that our wills should be crushed out, like the
sinews of a fakir's unused arms. He only asks that they should say
"Yes" to Him. Pliant to Him as the willow twig to the practiced hand.
a time, as the steamer has neared the quay, have I watched the little lad take
his place beneath the poop, with eye and ear fixed on the captain, and waiting
to shout each word he utters to the grimy engineers below; and often have I
longed that my will should repeat as accurately and as promptly the words and
will of God, that all the lower nature might obey.
is for the lack of this subordination that we so often miss the guidance we
seek. There is a secret controversy between our will and God's. And we shall
never be right till we have let Him take, and break, and make. Oh! do seek for
that. If you cannot give, let Him take. If you are not willing, confess that you
are willing to be made willing. Hand yourself over to Him to work in you, to
will and to do of His own good pleasure. We must be as plastic clay, ready to
take any shape that the great Potter may choose, so shall we be able to detect
WE MUST SEEK INFORMATION FOR OUR MIND.
is of the greatest importance, then, that we should feed our minds with facts,
with reliable information, with the results of human experience, and (above all)
with the teachings of the Word of God. It is matter for the utmost admiration to
notice how full the Bible is of biography and history, so that there is hardly a
single crisis in our lives that may not be matched from those wondrous pages.
There is no book like the Bible for casting a light on the dark landings of
have no need or right to run hither and thither to ask our friends what we ought
to do; but there is no harm in our taking pains to gather all reliable
information, on which the flame of holy thought and consecrated purpose may feed
and grow strong. It is for us ultimately to decide as God shall teach us, but
His voice may come to us through the voice of sanctified common sense, acting on
the materials we have collected. Of course at times God may bid us act against
our reason, but these are very exceptional; and then our duty will be so clear
that there can be no mistake. But for the most part God will speak in the
results of deliberate consideration, weighing and balancing the pros and cons.
Peter was shut up in prison, and could not possibly extricate himself, an angel
was sent to do for him what he could not do for himself; but when they had
passed through a street or two of the city, the angel left him to consider the
matter for himself. Thus God treats us still. He will dictate a miraculous
course by miraculous methods. But when the ordinary light of reason is adequate
to the task, He will leave us to act as occasion may serve.
WE MUST BE MUCH IN PRAYER FOR GUIDANCE.
a time of change and crisis, we need to be much in prayer, not only on our
knees, but in that sweet form of inward prayer, in which the spirit is
constantly offering itself up to God, asking to be shown His will; soliciting
that it may be impressed upon its surface, as the heavenly bodies photograph
themselves on prepared paper. Wrapt in prayer like this the trustful believer
may tread the deck of the ocean steamer night after night, sure that He who
points the stars in their courses will not fail to direct the soul which has no
other aim than to do His will.
good form of prayer at such a juncture is to ask that doors may be shut, that
the way be closed, and that all enterprises which are not according to God's
will may be arrested at their very beginning. Put the matter absolutely into
God's hands from the outset, and He will not fail to shatter the project and
defeat the aim which is not according to His holy will.
it looks as if we are bound to act. Everyone says we must do something; and,
indeed, things seem to have reached so desperate a pitch that we must. Behind
are the Egyptians; right and left are inaccessible precipices; before is the
sea. It is not easy at such times to stand still and see the salvation of God;
but we must. When Saul compelled himself, and offered sacrifice, because he
thought that Samuel was too late in coming, he made the great mistake of his
may delay to come in the guise of His Providence. There was delay before
Sennacherib's host lay like withered leaves around the Holy City. There was
delay before Jesus came walking on the sea in the early dawn, or hastened to
raise Lazarus. There was delay ere the angel sped to Peter's side on the night
before his expected martyrdom. He stays long enough to test patience of faith,
but not a moment behind the extreme hour of need. "The vision is yet for an
appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and shall not lie; though it
tarry, wait for it, because it will surely come; it will not tarry."
is very remarkable how God guides us by circumstances. At one moment the way may
seem utterly blocked, and then shortly afterwards some trivial incident occurs,
which might not seem much to others, but which to the keen eye of faith speaks
volumes. Sometimes these signs are repeated in different ways in answer to
prayer. They are not haphazard results of chance, but the opening up of
circumstances in the direction in which we should walk. And they begin to
multiply, as we advance towards our goal, just as lights do as we near a
populous town, when darting through the land by night express.
men sigh for an angel to come to point them their way; that simply indicates
that as yet the time has not come for them to move. If you do not know what you
ought to do, stand still until you do. And when the time comes for action,
circumstances, like glowworms, will sparkle along your path; and you will become
so sure that you are right, when God's three witnesses concur, that you could
not be surer though an angel beckoned you on.
circumstances of our daily life are to us an infallible indication of God's
will, when they concur with the inward promptings of the Spirit and with the
Word of God. So long as they are stationary, wait. When you must act, they will
open, and a way will be made through oceans and rivers, wastes and rocks.
often make a great mistake, thinking that God is not guiding us at all, because
we cannot see far in front. But this is not His method. He only undertakes that
the steps of a good man should be ordered by the Lord. Not next year, but
tomorrow. Not the next mile, but the next yard. Not the whole pattern, but the
next stitch in the canvas. If you expect more than this you will be
disappointed, and get back into the dark. But this will secure for you leading
in the right way, as you will acknowledge when you review it from the hilltops
cannot ponder too deeply the lessons of the cloud given in the exquisite picture
lesson on Guidance (Num. 9: 15:23): "And on the day that the tabernacle was
reared up the cloud covered the tabernacle, namely, the tent of the testimony:
and at even there was upon the tabernacle as it were the appearance of fire,
until the morning. So it was always: the cloud covered it by day, and the
appearance of fire by night. And when the cloud was taken up from the
tabernacle, then after that the children of Israel journeyed: and in the place
where the cloud abode, there the children of Israel pitched their tents. At the
commandment of the Lord the children of Israel journeyed, and at the commandment
of the Lord they pitched: as long as the cloud abode upon the tabernacle they
rested in their tents. And when the cloud tarried long upon the tabernacle many
days, then the children of Israel kept the charge of the Lord, and journeyed
not. And so it was, when the cloud was a few days upon the tabernacle; according
to the commandment of the Lord they abode in their tents, and according to the
commandment of the Lord they journeyed. And so it was when the cloud abode from
even unto the morning, and that the cloud was taken up in the morning, then they
journeyed: whether it was by day or by night that the cloud was taken up, they
journeyed. Or whether it were two days, or a month, or a year, that the cloud
tarried upon the tabernacle, remaining thereon, the children of Israel abode in
their tents, and journeyed not; but when it was taken up, they journeyed. At the
commandment of the Lord they rested in the tents and at the commandment of the
Lord they journeyed: they kept the charge of the Lord at the commandment of the
Lord by the hand of Moses."
us look high enough for guidance. Let us encourage our soul to wait only upon
God till it is given. Let us cultivate that meekness which He will guide in
judgment. Let us seek to be of quick understanding, that we may be apt to see
the least sign of His will. Let us stand with girded loins and lighted lamps,
that we may be prompt to obey. Blessed are those servants. They shall be led by
a right way to the golden city of the saints.
for myself, after months of waiting and prayer, I have become absolutely sure of
the Guidance of my heavenly Father; and with the emphasis of personal
experience, I would encourage each troubled and perplexed soul that may read
these lines to wait patiently for the Lord, until He clearly indicates His will.