issue may not reach the readers until after January 1. Nevertheless, the
title of this article will be appropriate, even if it is delayed.
The year 1951 was a good year to me. In it I have more positive proof of
the care and love, and responsiveness of God, than I have ever had
before. True, I had trials, but in them I have learned by experience,
the fact that, "Faithful is God, who, will be leaving you to be tried
above what you are able, but, together with the trial, will be making
the sequel also, to enable you to undergo it", I Cor. 10:13.
Before Paul wrote the words that I have quoted, he said, "For I do not
want you to be ignorant, brethren, that our fathers all were under the
cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all are baptized into Moses
in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and
all drank the same spiritual drink, for they drank of the spiritual Rock
following the food. Now the Rock was Christ. But not in the majority of
them was the delight of God, for they were strewn along in the
wilderness. Now these things became types of us, for us not to be
lusters after evil things, according as they also lust. Nor yet be
becoming idolaters according as some of them, even as it is written,
'Seated are the people to eat and drink, and they rise to sport'. Nor
yet may we be committing prostitution, according as some of them commit
prostitution, and fall in one day, twenty-three thousand. Nor yet may we
be putting the Lord on trial, according as some of them put Him on
trial, and perished by serpents. Nor yet be murmuring even as some of
them murmur, and perished by the exterminator. Now all this befalls them
typically. Yet it is written for our admonition to whom the
accomplishment of the eons have attained. So that, let him who is
supposing that he stands, beware that he should not be falling. No trial
has taken you, except what is human".
Much of this is figurative. The record in Exodus and the books
following, does not mention baptism. The people were not immersed in
either the cloud or the sea. Quite the contrary. Paul recognized no
literal baptism. The thing Paul was talking about is, the people were
identified with Moses and became part of the work that he was doing. So
are we baptized in spirit, and become identified with Christ and His
work. The point is, we may have an experience with God, and still,
later, act in a way that does not delight God---in a way that brings
harm to our self. In this passage we are warned against it.
As an excuse for any waywardness on our part, we may plead that we were
put on trial. So we are, but God is faithful, and sees to it that we
have no trial except what is human, and also that it is not more than we
are able to bear. By faith we can see the sequel, even while
experiencing the trial, and thus we are able to bear it.
We must remember that a consciousness of the presence of God, and of His
interest in us, is necessary to keep us from falling. We must not be
boastful about it. We must recognize our dependence on Him.
Another thing we learn from the long quotation that I have made, is,
Long before the birth of Mary, the mother of Jesus, the Christ was
functioning. He did not have to exist in a form that could be recognized
as a Man, in order to do His word of leading, helping, guiding, and
teaching man. In the early chapters of Genesis He is known as the Lord
God. He is mentioned immediately after man is created. To a man of
Babylon He appears as the Son of God. In the prophetic writing He is
called God's fellow. In one of the "Old Testament" books God calls Him
"Mine Elect". In fact, there has been no time since man came to be on
earth, when He was not available.
While the narrative tells that the people ate literal food and drank
water from an actual rock, Paul, with His fine discernment, says they
ate spiritual food, and drank spiritual drink from Christ. Thus there
has been no period when those who were in spiritual touch with God were
denied the comfort, strength and helpfulness that come from Christ.
It has always been the case that to experience the benefits that Christ
provides, or that the Father provides through Him, one must have a
consciousness of Him. Whatever blessings God has for us, we have an
experience of them only through this consciousness.
I know that, during the year I have been drinking from Christ. And the
Water that he gives is a spring in me that gushes up for the life of the
ages. It provides a richness that cannot be expressed fully in any human
For several months, while my wife is recovering from her stroke, I have
been alone a great deal. She goes to bed early in the evening, and I
have several hours when my only companion is my Father. No one can enjoy
the companionship of another, unless the two have something in common. I
have had to make a diligent search to become fully conscious of the
things that I have in common with God. Not only is He my Creator; He
made me out of Himself. All is out of Him, says Paul. He made me in His
image and as His likeness. This must be in reference to spirit. In body
I am not in His image. He has no shape. He is Spirit. My spirit is the
image of His. I have the spirit of Christ, His Son. As my Father, He is
over me, and in me. My life comes from Him. He loves me and I love Him.
One of the outstanding things taught in the Bible is the fact that He is
responsive to me. He cares what happens to me. It is worth much to know
that He is thus interested. I speak His language. I know that I have
access to Him in one spirit, through Christ. I am His child.
Thus we have enough in common that I can enjoy having Him as my
Companion. I deeply appreciate having Him talk to my spirit. As for His
responsiveness, there is not a day in which I am not aware of this.
It is good to know that He is interested in my every-day life---my
securing of food and clothing and other necessities.
I do not become nearly as lonely as one might think. And when I retire
for the night I say to Him, "I will lay me down in peace and sleep, for
Thou, Lord, makest me to dwell in safety". I go to sleep wondering what
good think He has in store to make known to me in the morning. I am full
of expectancy. My expectation is from Him.
A friend said to me this week, "You have had a bad time". "Not nearly so
bad as some people have had", I replied. As a matter of fact, there is
good that comes into my life each day. There is certainly no reason to
complain. God still gives me time to do much service, by personal visits
as well as by public ministry. A lady comes at eight o'clock and stays
until four o'clock each day, and will stay longer when it is necessary.
This enables me to get out and respond to most of the calls that come to
me. Each Sunday I have the privilege of attending meetings where I
minister publicly. People visit me in the home frequently. All my
children live at a distance from me---the nearest one is in Valdosta,
Georgia, a hundred thirty miles from here. Another lives in Macon,
Georgia. One is at Hampton, Virginia; one at Corpus Christi, Texas; and
one at Los Angeles, California. A grand daughter lives in Waynesboro,
Georgia. Naturally, they cannot come often, but the people visit the
home. Everybody is good to me. No one would do me harm.
I face the New Year with calmness, and with confidence in God and His
people. The year will bring me many pleasures. I am expecting good. God
is good, and His purpose is to be carried out. We need not fear Him.
As a matter of fact, the worst thing we have to fear is fear. It is a
very devastating emotion. We are to exercise prudence, caution. We are
not to rush into dangers unnecessarily. But, since He is taking care of
us, and is always responsive to our needs, we do Him a dishonor when we
spend our days in fear, as if we were orphans and did not have a Father
Who is all-powerful and all-loving.
There is less faith than one might suppose. If we want something that is
in line with the universal good, we should ask God for it. But let us
ask without doubting, fearing, apprehensiveness. It is a contradiction
of terms to say we hope God will bless us, but we fear He won't. Hope is
expectation with desire. If we expect something and do not desire it,
this is not hope; it is fear. If we desire a thing and do not expect it,
this is doubt, which is one form of fear.
The Bible abounds in statements as to the beauty of faith. It takes in
the whole field of recognition of God---consciousness of His all-power,
His everywhere-presence, and His all-wisdom. Theology has words for
these---omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience. Faith recognizes
these. It is only as we recognize that Go has all power, is everywhere
present, and Knows all, that we are in a frame mind to pray. Without a
recognition of these qualities in God, prayer becomes a cry of
distress---a hopeless pleading without any real expectation that God
will respond to us.
Not always do we ask for that which is best. Here we must grant to God
the privilege of withholding what we ask for, and giving us something
better. Many times we pray in the face of seemingly insurmountable
circumstances. It is then that we must be confident that God can do what
seems, to us, impossible. When we become sorry for our self---pity our
self---we are apt to think of God as being too far away to reach Him.
Then we need to have the consciousness that He is present, and,
therefore, instantly available.
All fear vanished when God spoke to Joshua and told him to fear not. He
had been appointed to lead the people into the land that had been
promised. This was an impossibility, if Joshua had to reply on his own
wisdom and strength. But God told Him, "Be staunch and of good courage.
Be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed. For the Lord thy God is with
thee whithersoever thou goest". As I have said, all fear vanished, and
Joshua said to the people, "Let us go". No task was more hopeless, if it
depended on man. Yet none was more gloriously successful, with Israel
depending on God.
We are told in the Hebrew letter that Moses, who was the leader when the
journey first started, was courageous as if he were seeing the
invisible. This was the secret of His success, for it is always the
invisible that accomplishes things. God is the invisible One. He is
spirit. He does not fall.
Too often we think our experiences must be repeated over and over. Thus
we judge the future by what we have seen in the past. This is a mistake.
Much of our past experiences were what they were, because we did not
take God into account. With our dependence fixed upon Him, and our faith
in His promises, our future experiences may well be quite the opposite
fo what they have been in the days agone.
Over and over, in the year that is ahead, I shall be face to face with
situations that defy the wisdom of man to solve, tasks that no man can
accomplish alone. If I forget to depend on my Father, I shall fail. But
if I can remember that God is present, that He knows all, and that no
task can defy Him, the coming year will be one that is gloriously
fruitful. It is no wonder that so much is said about faith!
Paul says that God richly gives us all things for our enjoyment. Life is
one of the things that He gives us. There is no reason why we should
carry on a living death---a life that is devoid of enjoyment. Not only
is it better now to enjoy life, but in keeping with what happens when
gifts are not used, we may reach the point where we cannot enjoy it if
we despise the gift of God. When we live apprehensively, in a worried
state, always expecting the worst, it may bring on a sickness that will
make it impossible to live a joyous life. "A merry heart does good like
a medicine", says the wise man. If we do not maintain a merry heart, we
may reach the point where we will need medicine. It is dishonoring to
God to go about with a long face and a drawn-out manner of speaking that
indicates that life is not worth living.