My ruling desire!
(James Smith, "Christ Exalted, Saints Comforted, and Sinners Directed" 1855)
My ruling desire is to be wholly given up to the Lord and to His work, and to show forth His praises from day to day. But when I aim at this most — I am baffled, opposed, and always hindered!
I see what is wrong — but cannot avoid it.
I see what is right — but cannot attain unto it.
I know what I wish — but I cannot enjoy it.
I read what God commands — but I cannot perform it.
In the midst of all, I bless God . . .
for Jesus Christ,
for free grace,
for a full salvation,
for abiding comfort,
for a good hope,
for sweet views of Jesus,
for a glorious inheritance,
for an assurance of victory, and
for the promise of eternal triumph.
Nothing can . . .
separate me from Jesus,
turn the current of His love from me, or
change the purposes of His grace for me.
His love is astonishing!
His ways are marvelous!
I change — He remains the same.
I sin — He pardons.
I cry — He hears and answers.
I ask for favors — and He kindly bestows them.
I fear — and He promises.
I wander — and He says, "Return."
I lament my folly — He whispers peace.
I feel poor and impoverished — He says, "All things are yours!"
I imagine that I am alone — He says, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."
I expect that He will abandon me — He asks, "How can I give you up?"
I cry, "Unworthy, unworthy!" He says, "You are My dear son, My pleasant child."
I fear I shall be overcome. He says, "No weapon formed against you shall prosper."
I fear I shall lie down in darkness. He says, "The Lord shall be a light unto you."
I say, "I can do nothing!" He says, "I will work all your works in you."
I say, "I am barren!" He says, "From Me is your fruit found."
I cry, "I am thirsty!" He says, "I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys, to give drink to My people, My chosen ones."
I complain, "I am weary!" He says, "Come unto Me, I will give you rest."
I feel dry and parched. He says, "I will be as the dew unto Israel."
I say, "I need food!" He says, "My flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed."
I fear I shall die. He says, "He who eats Me, even he shall live by Me."
I say at times, "All these things are against me!" He says "All things shall work together for your good!"
I say, "I shall surely be overcome!" He says, "Nothing shall by any means hurt you."
I say, "I am often left alone!" He says, "Lo, I am with you always."
I say, "I am all deformity!" He says, "You are all beautiful, My love, there is no spot in you!"
I say, "I shall see Him no more!" He says, "I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice."
I say, "Surely the Lord cannot love such a wretch!" He says, "I have loved you with an everlasting love."
I say, He cannot have chosen one so vile and base. He says, "I have chosen you, and will never cast you away!"
I say, "I am desolate and forsaken!" He says, "Your Maker is your husband, the Lord Almighty is His name, and your Redeemer the Holy One of Israel."
I say, "I shall be left to myself at last!" He says, "I am a friend who sticks closer than a brother."
I say, "Set me as a seal upon Your arm, as a seal upon Your heart!" He says, "I will make you like a signet ring on My finger — for I have chosen you."
I cry, "Remember me, O Lord my God, for good!" He says, "You shall be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God."
I cry, "Do not be terribly angry with me, O Lord!" He says, "I swear that I will never again be angry and punish you."
I say, "I beseech you, show me Your glory!" He says, "Behold, I come quickly!"
I cry, "Remember me with the favor which You bear unto Your people!" He says, "As one whom his mother comforts, so will I comfort you — and you shall be comforted."
I cry, "Tell me where You graze Your flock." And He says, "Follow the footsteps of My flock."
I cry, "O that it was with me as in days that are past!" He says, "Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, and come with Me."
I cry, "My soul is among lions!" He says, "Come down with Me — from where the lions have their dens and leopards live among the hills."
I say, "O that I was sure that Jesus loved me!" He says, "You have ravished my heart, My sister, My spouse!''
I say, "I moaned like a mourning dove!" He says, "Your lips, O My spouse, drop as the honeycomb, honey and milk are under your tongue."
I say, "I am exposed, and lie open to the attacks of enemies on every side!" He says, "You are My private garden, My treasure, My bride — a secluded spring, a hidden fountain."
I say, "Do not look upon me, because I am black!" He says, "You are all beautiful, O My love!"
I say, "How miserable I am! Not a cluster of grapes or a single early fig can be found to satisfy my hunger." He says, "At our gates are all manner of pleasant fruits, new and old, which I have laid up for you, O My beloved."
I say, "I fear that my numerous sins and powerful corruptions will cool the love of Jesus for me!" He says, "Many waters cannot quench My love, neither can the floods drown it."
I sigh, "I am feeble and sorely broken!" He says, "I will not break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax."
I say, at times, "He afflicts, and counts me for His enemy!" He says, "As many as I love — I rebuke and chasten! I deal with you as My son."
I say, "I am totally unfit to be the bride of Jesus!" He says, "Oh, how beautiful you are! How pleasing, My love, how full of delights!"