"I waited patiently for the LORD; He turned to me and heard my cry." Psalm 40:1
Has God taught you some great truth, or revealed to you, in deep personal experience, some new, sweet thought of His love? What is the next thing? Is it not that you shall whisper the blessed secret to some other soul? After Peter's strange vision, he sat pondering what it could mean; and while he thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, "Behold, three men seek you." The picture is very suggestive. When we have gotten anything from God—there is always someone waiting to get from us what God has just given to us. Heavenly visions are not shown to us, only to be absorbed in our own soul—but to be translated into some form that will bless the world. That is what the artist does with his visions. That is what we should do with ours.
"About that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, 'Which of us is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?' Jesus called a small child over to Him and put the child among them." Matthew 18:1-2
When the disciples wanted to know who was greatest, Jesus called a little child, and took him on His knee. The disciples were clustered around Him and saw what He did. A little child in the midst, is used often to teach great lessons to older people. When a new baby comes into a home, God sets it in the midst of a family as a teacher. Parents suppose they are training their children—but the children are also teaching and training them.
Every child's life is a book—a new page of which is turned over each day.
Children are not angels, and yet they bring from heaven to earth many fragments of loveliness. Their influence in a home is a blessing. They soften hearts; they change the whole thought of life in their parents. It is no more SELF; they begin to live for their children. The children open love's chambers. They train their parents in patience, gentleness, thoughtfulness. While a young child is in a home—a school of heaven is set up there. Sad is it for those within if they miss the chance of learning such blessed lessons.
"We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him as He is!" 1 John 3:2
A man tells a beautiful story about a picture hanging on his wall of his child who had passed away. It seemed a very imperfect photograph, so blurred that scarcely a trace of the beloved features could be seen in it. But one day he took the picture to a photographer and asked him if he could do anything to improve it. In three weeks, he returned; and as he saw the picture in its frame on the wall, he was startled. It seemed as if his child were living again before him. The image had been in the old picture—but was concealed beneath the blurs and mists that were there also. The photographer, however, had brought it out in strong, living beauty, until it was life-like in its tender charm.
In every true disciple of Christ, there is the image of the Master, it may be very dim. Its features are overlaid by blurs and blemishes and are almost unrecognizable by human eyes. It is the work of Christ in our lives to bring out this likeness, more and more clearly, until at last it shines in undimmed beauty. This is what Christ is doing in many of His ways with us.
"While He was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on His head. Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, "Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year's wages and the money given to the poor." And they rebuked her harshly.
"Leave her alone," said Jesus. "Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to Me!" Mark 14:3-6
Usefulness is not the only test. Acts may be beautiful in Christ's sight, even though they do not seem to be immediately helpful to others. Mary's deed fed no poor, relieved no sick, clothed no shivering child—and yet Jesus commended it. He is pleased when offerings are made from love to Him, even though the things offered may not be necessary to His work.
We may not measure all our services to Christ, by the standard of direct helpfulness to others. Mary's ointment, spilled over Christ's head and feet, was not a useful ministry, and yet it was good and beautiful in Christ's sight. What shall we say of the loveliness which God lavishes everywhere in nature? Does the beauty of the flowers, of the skies—feed the hunger of the poor? Evidently it was Mary's love for Christ which pleased Him and made her deed beautiful. She had indeed fashioned a good work on Him, one that blessed Him; for in the great sorrow of His heart as He drew near His cross, nothing could so strengthen Him, as love! It made Him stronger for the journey to His cross! Likewise, nothing else that we can give another, will be such a blessing, as love.
"We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces patience." Romans 5:3
Patience is a great lesson to learn. Any school in which we can learn it, is a good school, and the lesson can scarcely be too costly. Few things mean more in life, than patience. Many people wreck the best hopes of their life, for lack of patience. To be impatient in certain conditions, is to lose all; and to be patient, to be able to keep quiet and still in the presence of things that try us, is to gain all. Thus, patience becomes the very key to success in living. It is surely worthwhile to learn the lesson!
Patience is often learned in the school of suffering. We are there trained to endure; not to cry out in the hour of anguish—but to sing instead. An old story tells of a little bird that is shut away in the darkness, to learn new strains, which afterward it sings in the light. Many Christians are taken into the darkness, and kept there for a time, while they are taught the songs of patience. We look at patient people with admiration, not knowing what it has cost them to get this pearl of the graces.
"The Lord gave—and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." Job 1:21
God's love is the same in the brightness—and when the brightness fades into gloom. It is the same in joy—and when the joy turns to grief. It is the same when blessings are given—and when the blessings are recalled.
It does not seem so to us; we easily believe that while God showers favors upon us—He loves us; but when He gives suffering and sorrow, we almost feel that He does not love us as before. Yet it may be, that there are even richer blessings in the things which make us grief—than in those which give us gladness. We know at least that the same love sends both. That should be comfort for us. It is always love that comes from God—in whatever form or appearance it comes. We need never doubt that this is true, "For the Lord disciplines the one He loves and punishes every son whom He receives." Hebrews 12:6
"The Word of the Lord came unto Jonah the second time." Jonah 3:1
Jonah had failed the first time—but God gave him a second chance. This shows the divine patience. Strict justice would have left Jonah at the bottom of the sea, or in the jaws of the great fish; but God was merciful to him. He had now gone through a discipline which left him ready to obey.
That is the way God often deals with people. When they rebel or disobey Him—He does not cast them off—but puts them under some discipline, sometimes sore and painful, to teach them obedience, and then tries them again. Many of us must be whipped to duty; but what a blessed thing it is that God is so patient with us! Most of us owe all we are, to God's disciplines. "For the Lord disciplines the one He loves and punishes every son whom He receives." Hebrews 12:6. Thus even our sins may become blessings to us.
We should be very thankful to God for these second chances that God gives us, when we have failed to improve the first chance. Very few people make of their life, what God first wanted them to make. Then He sets them another lesson, that they may try again. Perhaps the second is not so beautiful nor so noble as the first; still, it is good, and if they are faithful and diligent, they can make something worthy even yet of their life. Most of us must be sent more than once, on our errands for God. Happy are we if we obey even at the second bidding, although it is far better that we go at first.