We Trusted in God: Part 2
By the time that I came around the young woman who was to be my companion, my eyes were on the Lord. I was sold out for God and wanted to please Him more than anything else in the world. By the help of the Lord, I was living up to Romans 12:1. I wasn’t trying to pay special attention to any young lady at that time for I had committed that whole area to God. I had consecrated to be single if the Lord felt best.
The vital importance of being absolutely consecrated cannot be exaggerated. The emotions that bind one to one’s lifelong companion are some of the strongest that we have. They can bind us just as strongly to the wrong one as to the right. The story is told of a young man who asked an older minister to go and pray with him that he might clearly understand whether or not God was leading him to seek a certain young Christian sister as a marriage partner. The younger man prayed first. He prayed, “Lord, give me Mary! Lord, give me Mary!” The older minister said that he did not even pray as he felt that the young man already had his mind made up. He was not seeking guidance. He just wanted God to bless his choice.
In every really blessed marriage that I know, each one will tell you of how he/she came to an end of themselves, “of how they gave up on their heart’s desire and consecrated to be single.” One sister said that she came to the conclusion that since there were more sisters interested in living for God than brothers, some sisters would have to be left out. So she consecrated to be one of the left out ones. Not so long after she came to this decision, God sent her a very humble and precious brother who had gotten saved not so many months back. Because she fell into the ground and died, so to speak, God saw to it that she was no longer alone, and she brought forth much fruit (John 12:24). It was not her purpose to somehow “make it work.” She was sincere and honest in her decision not to seek marriage, but this consecration is what God was interested in working in her to His glory and to accomplish His purposes.
May I ask you, are you really dead to all else but God’s will for you? Will you take your Isaac (your only son, so to speak, whom you love) up the mountain, bind him to the altar, and there slay thy (legitimate) heart’s desire before Him who tests you? Have you heard the angel speak and call your name? (Genesis 22:1-12). Most are so full of their own ways and pursuing the same that they cannot hear the still, small voice. If, almost by accident, they marry a suitable companion, they do not have the fullness of blessing that the Lord wants to bestow.
I noticed the young people around me who seemed to be sold out to live for God. As did Moses, they esteemed “the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt,” (Hebrews 11:26) and chose “rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.” (Hebrews 11:25) I treasured that quality in them. There was a relatively small group of us that loved the Lord that much among the young people I was around (Matthew 7:13-14). And I wasn’t around them that much. Hardly anyone home schooled back then, and I lived for the Lord as I attended a public school in Shreveport, Louisiana. There were some who professed to follow Jesus at this school, but they did not seem to have much (Luke 6:46). As usual, if you really followed Jesus, you were pretty much an outcast with the worldly crowd (2 Timothy 3:12). So I valued the ones I did know who seemed to walk with God and love Him with all their heart. We were scattered around the country and usually only saw each other at a meeting or two in the summer. There were lots of other young people at these meetings, some professing and some not. They dated and broke up more or less as the world did. The spiritual young people did not.
There were older couples, too, who walked with God and had that special blessing in their marriage that means so much. They were years up the pathway from me, and I was too ignorant of even the right questions to ask, or what to look for in their lives, but I sensed the victory in them and the blessings from God on their lives together. Most of them have gone on from this life into Eternity now, and I miss them a great deal. It is my turn now and my wife’s, and, oh, how I want to walk and live in such a way as to show the greatness of God’s salvation and His blessings in the lives of those who yield to Him!
I knew that if I ever married that I would marry one of these spiritually-minded young people. If nothing worked out in that way, I would not marry at all (2 Corinthians 6:14-15). That decision was tested to the maximum. The Lord helped me, else I could not have kept it.
I began to pray about one of the spiritual young sisters. I committed it to the Lord over and over. It was extremely difficult to tell if my attraction to her arose from myself only or if the Lord was in it. I was just out of school, idealistic, zealous, and very naive. I shared my feelings with different ones for counsel. It brought very little in the way of counsel and quite a bit in the way of gossip. This prejudiced the young lady’s family. My parents were unable to help me much with this way of finding a companion, as they had dated and broken up freely in their young adult years and thought it was ordinary. They respected what I was trying to do and had confidence in my life, but they were not persuaded that it was workable or valid.
Matters went from bad to worse. In retrospect, I believe that the young sister’s parents were trying to be as fair as they could be to their daughter and to myself as well. She was mixed up and confused. Looking back on it all, I feel certain that the Lord knew how it would all be when He allowed me to get into this. In the fire of this trial, I learned some things that I do not think I could have learned anywhere else. The flames heated me through and through; the dross rose to the top, and the Lord would skim it off of me as I recognized it and called on Him. Truly, “And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness. Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the LORD, as in the days of old, and as in former years.” (Malachi 3:3-4) “Take away the dross from the silver, and there shall come forth a vessel for the finer.” (Proverbs 25:4) “Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water: but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place.” (Psalms 66:12)
Before you can experience God’s wealthy place for you, it is necessary to go through His refining process.
But Thou art making me, I thank Thee, Sire.
What Thou hast done and doest Thou know’st well,
And I will help Thee: gently in Thy fire
I will lie burning; on Thy potter’s-wheel
I will whirl patient, though my brain should reel;
Thy grace shall be enough the grief to quell,
And growing strength perfect through weakness dire.
I have not knowledge, wisdom, insight, thought,
Nor understanding, fit to justify
Thee in Thy work, O Perfect. Thou hast brought
Me up to this—and, lo! what Thou hast wrought,
I cannot comprehend. But I can cry—
“O enemy, the Maker hath not done;
One day thou shalt behold, and from the sight wilt run.”
* * *
Thou workest perfectly. And if it seem
Some things are not so well, ’tis but because
They are too loving-deep, too lofty-wise,
For me, poor child, to understand their laws:
My highest wisdom half is but a dream;
My love runs helpless like a falling stream:
Thy good embraces ill, and lo! its illness dies!
[George MacDonald; The Diary of an Old Soul, “October”]
God saw fit to bring me to a point where it seemed that everyone condemned me and misunderstood my motives. This was not actually true, and I was blessed with those who stood by and prayed for me, although I largely perceived them not. The trial was prolonged for months, fed by my own lack of wisdom in some ways, and the general ways of human nature stirred up by the devil in others. Some days I had less of a battle than others. One day, I reached such a low point in discouragement that I actually wished I had never been born. It seemed that a black discouragement covered me. That was the lowest point of all the low places in the trial, but the Lord helped me to hold on to Him. The Lord Jesus taught me to forgive, to consecrate to be misunderstood, to leave my judgment in the hands of Him who knows all things, to continue to do what is right in spite of all, and to overcome evil with good. Oh, how good is the Lord! To teach us in the furnace flames what He can do! “He knoweth the way that I take: when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10)
One of the precious things that I learned in this trial was that God allows for human error and uncertainness. I learned the great value of waiting on God, of letting Him work instead of trying to help things to work out. “To let go, and let God.” And, at the end of this trial, when the clouds broke and I came out into the wealthy place that God had prepared for me, He placed in my hands an invaluable tool for trusting Him amid the tribulations of life.
I had driven my car out into a large pasture by a river to pray. There were cows around grazing, and the entire scene was placid and tranquil, but my heart was not. Months of trial and fighting to be true lay behind me, and I was there to pray yet again. I parked my car in the middle of that pasture and knelt on the seat through the open doorway and called on God. I pled His promises again, and as I prayed, the Lord sent an answer. It was strongly impressed on my mind. “It’s not what happens to you in life that matters; it’s how you take it.” Immediately, I comprehended this invaluable truth. What a wonderful thought! Nothing can do permanent harm to a child of God under His Father’s care if he will take the trial as he should. Surely, “all things work together for good to them that love God.” (Romans 8:28) What a privilege to know this! I embraced it in my heart. And with this came the thought, “It’s not how people treat you; it’s how you treat them.” I consecrated afresh to follow the Lord’s path marked out for me, whatever He saw fit to do with me. The blessing of that surrender, that sacrifice, fell upon my heart, and I knew that by the grace of God, I would be able to follow Him all the way.
Not too many months after this, I left the area and went west on a mission of passing out Bible truth in literature and attending various meetings. At times, my hopes and disappointed expectations would come upon me, and the rest of my life seemed bleak indeed. During this trip, I was driving somewhere in Colorado or Utah across a flat, flat surface between stone formations. It must have been nearly fifty miles across. The highway was straight as could be. There was no car in sight, no sign of human habitation anywhere. It was as if I was the only human being on the planet at that time. My heart was still grieving and I felt so bereft. And then the singing began. Such singing! It was as if a heavenly choir sang. I do not know to this day if it was audible to the ear. It went on for miles.
As far above the howling storm,
Secure from danger’s reach and harm,
Triumphantly the eagle flies—
My soul on wings of faith would rise;
When raging is the tempest’s blast,
Ere yet its wrath is overpast—
My soul would rise from earthly woe,
To leave the stormy winds below.
Upon the troubled, restless wave,
His fearful, trembling ones to save,
The Master walked and calmed the sea,
The wildly tossing Galilee;
By faith again I hear His voice,
In tones which make my heart rejoice,
When fears my soul with terror thrill,
He gently whispers, “Peace, be still.”
The lilies clothed in garments fair,
The ravens flying through the air,
Our blessed Father cares for all—
He seeth e’en the sparrow’s fall;
His children more He surely loves,
Their cry His heart with pity moves:
Though thorns bestrew the path we’ve trod,
He whispers still, “Have faith in God.”*
At this point in the singing, I broke down and wept. I wept as I had not wept since a child. And in that weeping, the Lord comforted me, and I realized that He knew all. He knew all, and He cared for me. Over and over, the verse rang in my mind,
His children more He surely loves,
Their cry His heart with pity moves:
Though thorns bestrew the path we’ve trod,
He whispers still, “Have faith in God.”
Surely He is “the God of all comfort.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)