“When He Came to Himself”
My sister and I were fussing again. I blamed her for everything that went wrong. “Leah did it,” I would say. So Mother separated us. She put me in the pantry to play by myself. I had a little table and chair and the junk mail envelopes for play. After a while, one of the envelopes slipped off the table and fell to the floor. “Leah did it!” I thought. Then I stopped. Leah was not even here. There was no one in the pantry but me. I had done it. Leah could not have done it. It was a jolt to realize that. It began to dawn on me that I was blaming her for everything. I came to myself.
A great number of illusions appear as realities until we come to ourselves. When the prophet, Nathan, was dealing with King David, who was in a miserable condition, backslidden and hypocritical, Nathan told him the story of the poor man’s lamb and the rich man’s sin. David, who was pretending to himself that he was basically the same as he had been before he backslid, was incensed at this story of injustice, and he said, “As the Lord liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die: And he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.” (2 Samuel 12:5-6) Whereupon Nathan said, “Thou art the man.” (2 Samuel 12:7) At this point, the only right and reasonable path for David to follow was to face himself, and he did so. “He came to himself,” (Luke 15:17) and said, “I have sinned against the Lord.” (2 Samuel 12:13)
“Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.” (Joel 3:14) People are blinded by excitement, by zeal, by partisan feelings, by prejudice, by a deceptive spirit. They feel they are right and the others are wrong. So onward they go, bending things in their minds to fit how they think it must be and should be. They take courage from how many others feel the same way as they do. This state of things usually lasts until God, in mercy, brings them into a valley of decision. There they are in want. It begins to catch up with them: the consequences of the choices that they have made and the prejudices that they have exercised. Quite often their children pay the price, and the price is staggering.
The valley of decision is the same as the “valley of Jehoshaphat” (Joel 3:2), and the Lord declares through the prophet’s mouth, “I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land.” There was no physical valley of Jehosphaphat in the land of Israel. It was and is a spiritual valley. It is described in 2 Chronicles 19:2-3: “And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him, and said to King Jehoshaphat, Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the Lord? Therefore is wrath upon thee from before the Lord. Nevertheless there are good things found in thee, in that thou hast taken away the groves out of the land, and hast prepared thine heart to seek God.” Jehoshaphat feared God, followed the Lord in his kingdom, and was blessed (this was one side of the valley); but he also made peace with Ahab and entered into an affinity with him (this was the other side of the valley). This brought him into the valley of decision. He liked Ahab; he loved him. He identified with Ahab. Ahab didn’t fear God. Ahab was married to Jezebel. Ahab had a group of prophets that told him what he wanted to hear. Ahab hated Micaiah, Elijah, and Jehu, the true prophets of God. He was of that crowd that says, “Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits: Get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us.” (Isaiah 30:10-11) Ahab didn’t fear God. What was Jehoshaphat doing in an affinity with a man like this? He needed to come to himself. He needed to realize that his actions were not consistent. “Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the Lord?”
Holy living is not possible without coming to yourself. It is not possible to live right on a foundation of illusions. One must get the courage to go to the bottom. “Yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.” (2 Corinthians 7:11)
It is common and ordinary for God’s children to be buried under an avalanche of assumptions and misapprehensions. Satan sees to it. He is really good at fencing off those who live right before God from those who would benefit from their example. He is the one who caused so many to disregard Jesus because “we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.” (Isaiah 53:4) They thought something must be wrong with Jesus, and they didn’t bother to make anything like a thorough, impartial investigation. Therefore, they missed out, and it was as good as the devil could want. If you are guided by the popularity of ministers or how good they are at influencing and swaying a crowd, it is almost a certainty that you will miss it and end up in hell. Can you point to a single Bible incident to the contrary?
“Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.” (Luke 13:24) What does this mean, “and shall not be able”? Not able to get saved! Not able to get right! Unable to make it to heaven! There are people that do not come to themselves. They are not able to come to themselves. They cannot bring themselves to pay the price to fit through God’s strait gate. “If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.” (Luke 19:42) But they did not and do not know. “He reminds me of….” “They are like….” “I don’t like so-and-so’s preaching; it makes me feel bad!” “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4)
Sprinkled throughout the world are saints, born from above, sanctified and acknowledged of the Master. He has placed them just where He wants them, and they are shining just where He wants them to shine. “And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” (John 1:5) “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” (2 Timothy 3:12) Occasionally, a precious soul comes to himself and finds God, who changes that precious soul into a genuine child of God. He/she becomes a companion of them who are so used (Hebrews 10:33).
“Oh, how sublime is the life of a Christian!”* He is freed from the fear of unwillingness to see things as they are before the eyes of Him who knoweth all. His love for all men is unfeigned. His desire for their good is heartfelt, without partiality and hypocrisy. He has come to himself and is blessed. He has settled things rightly, and is given grace to keep things right. He humbles easily. He calmly faces a hostile world, “With soul and mind at rest.”* He is at home in God. He is glad to dig about the roots of the barren tree, and he is sad when God cuts it down. “Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:7) And, “Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth.” (1 Corinthians 13:6)
When we come to ourselves, we see that God was right all along. He is right about us; He is right about everyone. What a blessing it is to give in to God, to utterly surrender! To serve Him in godly fear, with admiration and appreciation for His perfect ways! Let us fall on the Stone and be broken! Let us come to ourselves. He is waiting for us to do so.