BEYOND THE VALLEY
"Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."
"Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." Luke 12:32
It is the Shepherd's voice. Under that favorite and
expressive emblem He is set before His Church as Himself the Burden-Bearer.
The wandering sheep is on His shoulders, and He carries it back to the fold
and to its rest rejoicing. The verse seems in this place to be put in
contrast with the cares and solicitudes against which He had warned His
people in the immediately preceding context. As a substitute for
earthly-mindedness, they are called (to use the suggestive word of a German
commentator) to "heavenly-mindedness,"--lifted above the fretting and
depressive anxieties of a present evil world, to that kingdom of the Father
which is not food and drink, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy
Spirit. The cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches are hostile
to rest. With all the rare endowments of nature and "wealth of
circumstance," few knew better than Dante what it was to be "weary and heavy
laden;" how little outward things, and least of all worldly aggrandizement,
could minister to the mind diseased, and meet the heart-longing for repose.
In his great poem he puts these words into the lips of another–
"The world passes away, and the lust thereof--but he that does the will of God abides forever."
Note two of the characteristics of those whom the Great Rest-Giver addresses.
It is a LITTLE flock--despised by the world, unthought of by men; in many ways unworthy of the Shepherd's cognizance and regard. Each "little," each finite life is like the mathematical point, having position but no magnitude. The finite compared to the Infinite! It is like a tiny drop in the shoreless sea! But God's ways are not as our ways, nor His thoughts as our thoughts. "Fear not, worm Jacob." What may be scorned and unpitied of men, enlists the tenderness, sympathy, and love of the Shepherd of the sheep. "It is not," says He, "the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish" (Matt. 18:14). It is His own beautiful prophetic saying--"I will turn my hand upon the little ones" (Zech. 13:7).
It is a TREMBLING flock. The existence of fear and misgiving is acknowledged; the apprehension, it may be, at times of the forfeiture of promised spiritual blessing; the encountering of peril and difficulty and danger. "The wolf comes and scatters the sheep." But ultimate safety is not the less insured, though possibly reached with torn fleece and bleeding feet. The Speaker interposes the quieting assurance, "Fear not." He gives His pledge to fetch every wanderer home. The covenanted kingdom is safe, for it is "the Father's good pleasure" to bestow it. A Father-God and a Shepherd-Savior have put their names to that kingdom's title-deeds. We have there a double guarantee, that nothing can defraud us of our covenant rights, nothing cross us out of our purchased inheritance. Occasionally there may be and will be tempests to buffet and floods to pass through. But He who purchased the flock and tended it, followed it in all its devious wanderings in "the dark and cloudy day," will at last fold it secure in the pastures of the blessed. In the words of an old divine, "He leads us in; He leads us through; He leads us on; He leads us up; He leads us home."
O gracious Savior, Your strong arm will bear me safely. Let me be responsive to Your call and obedient to Your guidance and direction.
I will listen to Your "Come unto Me," and to the sure word of promise, embracing this world and the next– "Fear not--for I have redeemed you, I have called you by your name; you are mine."
"This is the resting place, let the weary rest. This is the place of repose." Isaiah 28:12