God leading His people through the wilderness
(James Smith, "Food for Hungry Souls")
"Give thanks to Him who led His people through the wilderness — for His mercy endures forever!" Psalm 136:16
How much we have to be thankful for. Everything short of Hell — is mercy!
THE OBJECTS OF GOD'S CARE. "His people."
Those whom He has chosen for His own, and eternally set apart for His praise.
Those whom He has redeemed from the claims of justice, by His blood.
Those whom He has called out of the world, and consecrated to His service.
Those with whom He has entered into covenant, saying, "I will be your God — and you shall be My people!"
They are His own — in the highest, holiest, and most blessed sense.
THEIR PILGRIMAGE. They are brought into a wilderness. That is, the world becomes a wilderness to them — in consequence of His precious work within them. They have to pass through the wilderness, where they experience spiritual hunger and thirst, and are often sighing for suitable supplies. Nor hunger only — but spiritual weariness, for they have little rest or repose. Many foes meet them, oppose them, and come into conflict with them. Dangers in every direction surround them, and many painful privations are felt by them. These and other things discourage them. But it is the way to the Promised Land!
Egypt has been left,
the wilderness is now being journeyed,
and Canaan with all its glory is before us!
THE MANNER OF GOD'S GUIDING. The Lord leads us by His servants, by His providence, and by His Word. He leads us . . .
like a faithful shepherd leads a flock — with care, watchfulness, and wisdom;
like a kind parent leads a little child — with gentle attention and love;
like a mother eagle, who teaches her young to fly, watches it if there is the least danger, and darts beneath it and carries it on her wings;
like only a God could — whose patience, love, and grace, are as constant as the day!
Thus the Lord leads us, never taking His eye off us, or remitting His care at any time for one moment.
THE CAUSE OF GOD'S ATTENTIVE LEADING. "His mercy endures forever!"
His mercy fixed upon them — and chose them for His own.
His mercy took charge of them — to conduct them to the promised land.
His mercy continued with them — through the whole of the long, tedious, and trying journey.
His mercy was glorified in them — in its constancy, and power to supply.
In His mercy, He led them . . .
to try them,
to prove them,
to humble them,
to teach them, and
to do them the greatest good.
The Lord always makes the world — to be a wilderness to His people. They cannot feel at home in it — nor will it yield them suitable or sufficient supplies. In the wilderness — they learn His ways. They learn . . .
to trust in Him,
to look to Him, and
to expect everything from Him.
In the wilderness — He becomes everything to them!
In the wilderness — He prepares them for 'Canaan'. He . . .
weans them from the world,
empties them of self, and
shows them the insufficiency of all creatures!
All who follow the Lord as their leader — arrive safely in their Heavenly home. He does not lead them by the shortest way, nor by the easiest way — but He leads them in the right way, which is the best way. Following Him, they . . .
overcome their foes, and
arrive with certainty at their journey's end!
Reader, what is the world to you? Is it a home — or a wilderness?
What are you in the world? Are you a resident — or a stranger and a pilgrim?
Is God leading you through it — or are you making your home in it?
If God is leading you through the wilderness — then do not be surprised if you meet with changes, trials, difficulties, and troubles; they are wilderness fare.
If you can make your home in the wilderness — then do not be surprised if you are excluded from the 'Promised Land'. For only those whom God leads through the wilderness — ever arrive safely there!