The Beloved DiscipleGeorge Everard, 1877
"Who is this coming up from the wilderness leaning on her beloved?" Song of Songs 8:5
Near to the suffering Savior, what strange contrasts do we see! Light and darkness, good and evil, are found in close contact one with the other. We see the dark form of the traitor, and the Wicked One prompting him to his destruction; but we see also the beloved Apostle who "leaned on the Savior's bosom."
This latter is a description full of instruction for every believer who desires near fellowship with Christ — it is a pattern for a believer. And if you are such, however sinful or unworthy, do not regard it as a privilege beyond your reach.
"I sit down at Christ's footstool" said one, "but I cannot get nearer than this." But the Master calls you both to abide at His footstool in lowliness and meekness — and also to lean upon Him and rest upon Him in fullest confidence of His tender love, so that it is no presumption for you to do so. Never forget that in yourself you are utterly vile, and altogether unworthy either to come to His footstool or in any way to approach One so holy and so great. Still are you bidden, accepted and beautified in His robe of righteousness, to come up out of the wilderness leaning upon Him. And it will be your comfort and joy thus to act.
Jesus, we rest in Thee —
In You ourselves we hide;
Laden with guilt and misery,
Where can we rest beside.
'Tis on Your meek and lowly breast
Our weary souls alone can rest.
1. This position, leaning upon the Beloved, implies an entire and abiding RELIANCE upon Christ and His salvation.We need continually to be reminded that all strength and consolation is found in . . .
cleaving to Christ,
confiding in Him,
taking to Him in prayer every need and concern, and
expecting from His hands every blessing that a God of love can bestow.
If I would go on my way happily and serve the Lord with a free heart . . .
I must trust to my Savior in everything and for everything,
I must trust His providence as I trust His grace,
I must ever see Him at my right hand in the midst of life's duties,
I must believe that He is able to keep me in every emergency,
I must never yield to any doubt that His blood cleanses me from my sin day by day,
I must assure myself, from His Word, that He will never deceive me nor disappoint my hopes,
I must learn more and more of His unchangeable loving-kindness to those who flee to Him,
I must thus, by faith, put myself and all that concerns me into His mighty and merciful keeping. Whatever fails me — Christ never will. Therefore my soul rests upon Him — and I shall never, never be confounded.
2. Leaning on Christ also implies SEPARATION FROM THE WORLD.Leaning upon Christ, rejoicing in the sunshine of His love, delighting in Him as my rich and satisfying portion — why should I go and mingle in the doubtful pleasures of a world that crucified Him? Has He not told His people, "You are not of the world, even as I am not of the world!" Has He not warned us that friendship of the world, is enmity with God? If I lean on my Savior, shall I love to spend my time in scenes and places where His precious Name is blasphemed? If I go where I must leave Christ at the door — may He not withdraw from me and permit me for many a long day to mourn His absence?
I dare not excuse myself in this matter, by the example of others; neither would I ever claim permission to do as other Christians do. I must set examples, rather than follow them. Perhaps there is no sin that could be named, but might be excused on the ground that some child of God had at one time or another committed it. Nay, I dare not copy others in their inconsistencies; but I must drink into Christ's Spirit, and walk ever in His footsteps. I will ask myself again and again, "What would Jesus do — were He in my place?" and when I see this, I will go and do likewise. If friends around seek to lead me in another path, I will refuse to go with them. I will not dishonor my Lord by doubtful courses. I will go where Christ will go with me, and nowhere else. If need be, I will go with Him to exile, to prison, to suffering, or to death. But I will not turn away from Him to drink of the poisoned cup! I will never choose as my life-partner one who does not love Him. If I am Christ's, the ballroom and the theater is no place for me. Even
the social evening has its perils for the soul as well as for the body. Therefore I must be on the watch.
O blessed Redeemer, give me grace to resist the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the Devil; and with pure heart and mind to follow You, the only God!
3. Here, too, leaning on Christ, is the place of WISDOM.Here may I learn secrets of Divine truth, which I cannot learn elsewhere. While John was leaning on Christ, the Savior whispered in his ear a secret not revealed to the rest — our Lord told him who the traitor was. And our Lord has many secrets to impart to those who keep near to Him. "The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him." In Christ are treasured up infinite riches of wisdom and knowledge; and while I keep near to Him, He teaches me by His Spirit. He gives me the anointing from above. He unfolds something of the mystery of His Providence. He throws a beam of light on some of the hard problems that in this world we cannot solve. He makes brighter and clearer the doctrines of salvation, and the hopes of a glorious immortality.
Would I become truly wise in the things which are most essential? It is not by human reasonings or abstruse arguments — but by the study of the Word in fellowship with the Son of God, that I shall best succeed. He will be my Teacher — He will open my understanding to know more of His truth, and in His light shall I see light.
4. I shall, moreover, abide in SAFETY while I thus lean on Christ.Resting in Jesus, reposing in His love — no harm can possibly come near me. Nothing in earth or in Hell can injure one hair of my head, while I stay my soul on Him. I am safe from condemnation. However guilty I am, conscious of evil and failure in heart and life — yet He cannot and will not condemn me. Will He condemn the soul for whom He died, and who is clinging to Him as his sole reliance? Will He take His poor feeble child, resting in His bosom, and cast him away from His presence? Ah, never will He do this — but He will confess him as His own, and set him before His face forever!
In this position I am safe, too, from the assaults of the enemy. In myself I am too weak to resist the least temptation — but in Christ, as my Shield and my Fortress, I can overcome the greatest. He is stronger than the strongest. Until Satan can overcome Christ, he cannot destroy the soul that is trusting in Him.
Here, too, is my Refuge — whatever storm may blow or tempest may beat, I run to my Savior and hide in Him.
In poverty or pain,
in disappointment or desolation,
in anguish of mind or sorrow of heart —
the living, loving Redeemer is my strong Castle. Therefore will I fear nothing. I have peace in Christ, though tribulation in the world. Though every earthly tie is broken and every human comforter is gone — yet I lean on Him as the Friend, the Helper and Support of all who cleave to Him.
5. I love this position, too, because it is one of HOLINESS.Every believer ought to seek progress in holiness, and strive after the very highest attainments. But where can this grace be found?
Not in the bondage of legal fears,
not in multiplying external duties and ceremonial observances,
not in leaning too much upon the spiritual direction of ministers
— but in continually keeping near to Christ. If I am much with others, I cannot fail to catch something of their spirit — if I am much with Christ, I shall grow more and more like Him. I shall become meek, and gentle, and patient, and forbearing, for His Spirit will rest upon me. I shall watch against the least sin, for who would willfully wound and pierce the tender heart on which he was resting? I shall love the Savior more, for I shall know more of the reality and depth and tenderness of His love to me.
And I shall be able to make progress in the paths of righteousness, for strength is ever being imparted to those who rely upon Christ. Though from first to last I shall ever fall short of the full standard of the image of my Savior, and need His blood and His righteousness as my only plea — yet in His strength I may press forward nearer and nearer to the mark.
And thus abiding, I may find a pledge of the eternal heavenly rest above. At present I am passing through the wilderness — but by-and-by I shall reach the glory. Now I lean upon Christ in the midst of sorrows and troubles and cares — but then I shall lean upon Him in a world where not a cloud will darken the sky. I shall be forever with the Lord. My tears and temptations, my cares and my sorrows, will be left behind — and I shall be with Him who loved me with an everlasting love!
I always go to Jesus,
When troubled or distressed:
I always find a refuge
Upon His loving breast.
I tell Him all my trials,
I tell Him all my grief;
And while my lips are speaking,
He gives my heart relief.
When full of dread foreboding
And flowing o'er with tears,
He calms away my sorrow
And hushes all my fears.
He comprehends my weakness,
The peril I am in,
And He supplies the armor
I need to conquer sin.
When those are cold and faithless
Who once were fond and true,
With careless hearts forsaking
The old friends for the new.
I turn to Him whose friendship
Knows neither change nor end:
I always find in Jesus
A never-failing friend.
I always go to Jesus:
No matter when or where
I seek His precious presence,
I'm sure to find Him there.
In times of joy or sorrow,
Whatever my need may be,
I always go to Jesus,
And Jesus comes to me.
O Lord Jesus Christ, You are my Hiding place and my sure Refuge. I bless and praise You for Your loving-kindness and Your truth. Manifest Yourself unto me more and more, and bring me still nearer to Yourself. Draw me — and I will run after You! Hide me in the secret place of Your tabernacle — and shield me from all assaults of the enemy. Keep me always mindful of Your presence, and teach me to lean continually on You.
I beg You, O gracious Savior, to fix my heart on You and renew me in Your own image. Send to me the Holy Spirit, the Comforter. May He ever fill me with all joy and peace in believing. Pour into my heart such love to You, that I may love You far above all things. Preserve me from the evil that is in the world. Keep me ever separate from sinners, and may I never choose the company of those who walk in the path that leads to destruction. Strengthen me by Your grace, that I may be fearless and bold in confessing Your name. O keep me as the apple of Your eye, and hide me under the shadow of Your wing. Cast about me the robe of Your righteousness, and be near to me by night and by day. Let those around me see that I have been with Jesus. Show Your marvelous loving-kindness, O my Savior. Give me the comfort of communion with You on earth, and then grant me everlasting rest in Your presence above. Bow down Your ear to hear, and defend me evermore by Your mighty aid, for Your name's sake. Amen.