Coming up from the wilderness
(J. C. Philpot, "Coming
up from the Wilderness" 1857)
"Who is this coming up from the wilderness,
leaning upon her Beloved?" Song of Solomon 8:5
To come up from the wilderness, is to come up out
of OURSELVES; for we are ourselves the wilderness.
It is our wilderness heart that makes the world
what it is to us . . .
our own barren frames;
our own bewildered minds;
our own worthlessness and inability;
our own lack of spiritual fruitfulness;
our own trials, temptations, and exercises;
our own hungering and thirsting after righteousness.
In a word, it is what passes in our own bosom
that makes the world to us a dreary desert.
Carnal people find the world no wilderness. It is an
Eden to them! Or at least they try hard to make it so.
They seek all their pleasure from, and build all their
happiness upon it. Nor do they dream of any other
harvest of joy and delight, but what may be repaid
in this 'happy valley', where youth, health, and good
spirits are ever imagining new scenes of gratification.
But the child of grace, exercised with a thousand
difficulties, passing through many temporal and
spiritual sorrows, and inwardly grieved with his own
lack of heavenly fruitfulness, finds the wilderness
But he still comes up out of it, and this he does
by looking upward with believing eyes to Him who
alone can bring him out.
He comes up out of his own righteousness, and
shelters himself under Christ's righteousness.
He comes up out of his own strength,
and trusts to Christ's strength.
He comes up out of his own wisdom,
and hangs upon Jesus' wisdom.
He comes up out of his own tempted, tried,
bewildered, and perplexed condition, to find rest
and peace in the finished work of the Son of God.
And thus he comes up out of the wilderness of
self, not actually, but experimentally. Every desire
of his soul to be delivered from his 'wilderness
sickening sight' that he has of sin and of himself
as a sinner. Every aspiration after Jesus, every
longing look, earnest sigh, piteous cry, or laboring
groan, all are a coming up from the wilderness.
His turning his back upon an ungodly world; renouncing
its pleasures, its honors, its pride, and its ambition;
seeking communion with Jesus as his chief delight;
and accounting all things but loss and rubbish for
the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus his Lord
as revealed to his soul by the power of God; this,
also, is coming up from the wilderness.