You have to be in a certain frame of mind to climb a mountain. It takes you to a very specific place. And if you’re halfway up and decide that you don’t want to carry on, that is a massive thing; a waste, a loss.
Anything worth achieving also has the potential to be an abandonment, a waste, a loss. But it is important to see that even in loss something has been achieved. When we are in the Spirit, we are shaping things for eternity, not things for this lifetime.
I’m conscious that recently my posts have been insubstantial or devotional rather than revival-based. I have been reading the latest Herald of His Coming, and was stirred up by a couple of things that I read. In particular, the observation that the book of Hebrews is not read or studied as often as other NT books. Personally, I am often drawn to it, but then I get drawn to another portion of Scripture. It covers both the excellencies of Christ, and the dangers of drifting.
This is what makes climbing a mountain in your spiritual experience so appealing. You KNOW that when you get to the top, there will be a feeling of exhilaration, and a clearer vision than you have had for some time. You know if you have lost your way if you’re at the top of a mountain.
But drifting is probably our more common spiritual experience. The latest Herald isn’t on the website yet, although a lot of good material is but here is a snippet from the article:
We need to lay hold of Christ so that no shaking can jar us. And the good news is that it is not the strength of our grip, but that when we lay hold of Him, He has already laid hold of us!
There are people all around us who have a loose relationship with Christ. The only connection some have with Christ is a little prayer they prayed as a child. That little prayer is not going to hold. Everything that can be shaken will be shaken. But there is one thing that will endure all the shaking. That is love. The love of God for us and our responding love to Him. Too many people mistakenly believe the love of God is going to hold on to them even though they have no interest in Him or His kingdom. Christianity is serious. We have these warnings. We have the picture of what happened to Israel when they failed to respond to the Lord’s warnings. Let us take the Word of God seriously!
How do we avoid drifting? The danger is to feel that prayer is not doing anything, that in prayer we just feel our weakness rather than His strength. Or that prayer has to take place in a certain form and a certain way. Rather than ‘pray without ceasing’ being living prayerfully, in everything. Not in a mechanical or ritualised way, but in the breath of God. I was excited by a chapter of a book by Stephen Cottrell that I read online last night. ‘When we are asked to pray we are asked to open our tightly clenched fist and to give up our last coin’, a quotation by Henri Nouwen. There is an ordinary type of prayer that is as mundane and everyday as the conversations we have with those we live with, with those we work with. But each of these ordinary prayers still requires a sacrifice, a cost. And the Father delights in it.
Final extract from a Herald article, this one by Oswald J. Smith on prayer:
Get alone with God. Be quiet long enough for Him to talk. Pray until you are prayed through and prayed out, until you have prayed about every problem. Then when God has settled your problems, let Him give you the new vision.
Stay in His presence until you can see things through His eyes, until you can see what He wants you to see. He will speak to you about hindrances and obstacles that you never dreamt existed. He will show you what is the matter – if you wait long enough. Therefore do not be impatient at the delay, but pray on and on and on. Delay is not denial…
What mattered it to them that they tarried seven days and had received nothing! Did they not have His promise? And was He not true?… When Wesley finished messages he closed his eyes and called upon God to confirm his Word, to bear witness to His truth, and set to His seal, and God did. He was immediately vindicated. Men and women dropped on every side under deep conviction of sin and with loud cries besought God to have mercy upon them…. Finney always preached with the expectation of seeing the Holy Spirit suddenly fall upon the people. Until this happened, little or nothing was accomplished. But the moment the Holy Spirit fell upon the people, Finney had nothing else to do but point them to the Lamb of God. Thus he lived and wrought for years in an atmosphere of revival.
There are two things here. First, we have to believe the promise and hold on, just as it says in Hebrews. Secondly, we are to look to God to move, and not look to ourselves. Whitefield thought to start with that the behaviour of the crowds after Wesley’s preaching was misguided and possibly of the devil. But he saw the fruit and the earnest desire of sinners to come to Christ.
If you are looking at the excesses and fretting, you are probably not looking at Jesus. You have forgotten the excellencies of Christ. You have forgotten that He is able to save to the uttermost all who come to Him. You have forgotten that those who earnestly seek Him will find Him. And you have forgotten that no one can snatch them out of His hand. What are you trusting in? The lies of the Deceiver? Or the promises of the Father, which are all Yes and Amen in Jesus.
Keep on climbing your mountain, or if you are hesitating at the bottom, set your heart in ordinary, daily prayer and with a thankful tongue put one foot in front of the other.