These brief and simple words are intended for many earnest Christians who are dissatisfied with their present life, and long to enter that more blessed state of rest and peace of which they catch occasional glimpses.
The visit of two young men marked an epoch in my own life. Before then, my Christian life had been spasmodic and fitful. I saw that they had something which I had not, but which was within them a constant source of rest and strength and joy. The talk we had was one of the formative influences of my life. Why should I not do what they had done? Why should I not yield my whole being to God, to work out day by day that which He would will and work within? Why not be a vessel (though only of earthware), meet for the Master’s use, because I am purged and sanctified?
There was nothing new in what they told me. They said that a man must not only believe in Christ for final salvation, but must trust Him for victory over every sin, and for deliverance from every care, that the Lord Jesus was willing to abide in the heart which was wholly yielded up to Him. They said that if there was something in our lives that made it difficult for us to surrender out whole being to Christ, yet if we were willing to be made willing to surrender it, He would make us not only willing but glad, that as soon as we give, or attempt to give ourselves to Him, He takes us. They urged me to take the definite step, and I shall be forever thankful that they did.
There were things in my heart and life which I felt were questionable, if not worse. I knew that God had a controversy with respect to them. I saw that my very dislike to probe or touch them was a clear indication that there was something bad lurking beneath. It is the diseased joint that shrinks from the touch, the tender eye that shudders at the light. At the same time I did not feel willing to give these things up. It was a long struggle. At last I said feebly, “Lord, I am willing to be made willing; I am desirous that Thy will should be done in me and through me, as thoroughly as it is done in heaven; come and take me and break me and make me.” That was the hour of crisis, and when it had passed I felt able at once to add, “And now I give myself to Thee: body, soul, and spirit; in sorrow or in joy; in the dark or in light; in life or in death, to be Thine, only, wholly, and forever. Make the most of me that can be made for Thy glory.
No rapture or rush of joy came to assure me that the gift was accepted. I had almost a heavy heart. I simply assured myself that He must have taken that which I had given, and in the same moment that I gave it to Him. And to that belief I clung in all the days that followed, constantly repeating to myself the words, “I am His.” And thus at last the joy and rest entered, and victory, and freedom from burdening care, and I found that He was moulding my will and making it easy to do what I had thought impossible; and I felt that He was leading me into the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake, but so gently as to be almost imperceptible to my weak sight.
Now out of my experience I would suggest these simple rules to my fellow-Christians.
Make a definite consecration of yourselves to God. – In any case there should be a definite act of surrender.
Of course when we have really given ourselves once, we are not ours to give a second time. We may renew the consecration vows. And if we have gone astray, we should confess to the Lord the wrong and robbery which we have done to Him. Oh how wonderful is the promise, “He restoreth my soul”! (Ps. 23:3). My friend, yield yourself to God.
Tell God that you are willing to be made willing about all. – A lady was once in great difficulties about certain things which she felt eager to keep under her own control. Her friend, wishing to press her into the better life of consecration, placed before her a blank sheet of paper, and asked her to write her name at the bottom, and then to lay it before God in prayer. She did so, and at once entered this blessed life. Are you willing to do this? Are you prepared to sign your name to a blank sheet of paper and then hand it over to God, for Him to fill it in as He pleases? If not, ask Him to make you willing and able to do this. You will never be happy until you let the Lord Jesus keep the house of your whole person, closely scrutinizing every visitor and admitting only His friends. He must reign. He must have the key of every closet, of every cabinet, and of every room. Do not try to clear them up for Him. Simply give Him the key, and He will cleanse and renovate and make them beautiful.
Count on Christ to do His part perfectly. You give – He takes, you open the door – He enters, you roll back the floodgates – He pours in a glorious tide of fullness: fullness of wealth, of power, of joy. The clay has to be plastic in His hand. The marble has to be pliant to His chisel. The organ has to be responsive to His touch. The student has to follow as He teaches. There will be no failure in the results. Oh, to be fully susceptible to the moulding influences of Christ! We shall not fail in realizing the highest ideal of which we are capable, if only we will let Him do His work unhindered.
Confess sin instantly. – If you allow acid to drop and remain on your skin, it will cause severe burns, and if you allow sin to remain on your heart unconfessed, it will eat out all peace and rest. Do not wait for the evening or until you can be alone, but there in the very rush of life, with the footprints of sin still fresh, lift up your heart to your merciful and ever-present Savior, and say, “Lord Jesus, Thou seest I have done this, I thank Thee that Thou hast already born the guilt of it on the cross and suffered for it that I might not be condemned for it. Do Thou keep me and make Thy Word a living power to cleanse my thoughts and my ways and to purify my motives that I may not fall into this again.” The Lord Jesus is ever at work, cleansing us “with the washing of water by the word” (Eph. 5:26); but it is our responsibility to apply it to be cleansed from conscious and known sins as soon as we are aware of their presence in our lives.
Hand over to Christ every temptation and care. – When you feel temptation approaching you, as a bird by some quick instinct is aware that the hawk is hovering near, then instantly lift your heart to Christ for deliverance. He cannot rebuff or fail you. He will gather you under His feathers, and under His wings shall you trust. And when any petty annoyance or heavier worry threatens to mar your peace, hand it over to Jesus, saying, “Lord, I am oppressed undertake this for me.” Ah! You sigh, “I wish indeed I could live like this, but in the moment of need I forget to look.” Then do this. Trust in Christ to keep you so trusting. Look to Him to abide in you as to keep you abiding in Him. In the early morning entrust to Him the keeping of your soul, and then as each hour goes by, expect Him to keep that which you have committed unto Him.
Keep in touch with Christ. – Avoid the spirit of fault-finding, criticism, uncharitableness and anything inconsistent with His perfect love. Go where He is most likely to be found, where two or three of His children are gathered. Ask Him to wake you up morning by morning for communion and Bible study, and develop the habit of talking with Him as you are engaged with busy activities of the day. Do all with “singleness of heart as unto Christ” (Eph. 6:5). And when you can get alone with Him tell Him everything and review the past under the gentle light which streams from His eyes.
Expect the Holy Spirit to work in, with, and for you. – When a man is right with God, God will freely use him. There will rise up within him impulses, inspirations, strong strivings, strange resolutions. These must be tested by Scripture and by prayer, and if they are evidently of God they must be obeyed. Here is a constant source of comfort, God’s commands are His enablings. He will never give us a work to do without showing exactly how and when to do it and giving us the precise strength and wisdom we need. Do not dread to enter this life because you fear that God will ask you to do something you cannot do. He will never do that. If He lays anything on your heart, He will do so irresistibly. As you pray about it the impression will continue to grow, so that the way will suddenly open and you will probably have said the word or done the deed almost unconsciously. Rely on the Lord to go before you, to make the crooked places straight, and the rough places smooth. Do not bring a legal spirit of “must” into God’s free service. “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow.” Let your life be as effortless as theirs because your faith shall constantly hand over all difficulties and responsibilities to your ever-present Lord. There is no effort by the branch in producing the swelling clusters of grapes – the effort would only be to keep them back (see Luke 12:7; John 15:4-5).
There may be failures in this life, but they will arise on the human side, not the divine. It will be well if we can instantly discover the cause of failure and confess it, and seek restoration to the old peace and joy. After all, the sheep does not keep the shepherd. The shepherd keeps the sheep and feeds it, leads it, and makes it to lie down. What then may we not expect from our Good Shepherd, who provides green pastures and the unfailing springs, to which He will lead the docile and trustful spirit who delights in His Word and meditates therein “day and night” (Ps. 1:2).
– Arranged from F. B. M.