THE DIVINE WAY PERFECT
"This is the resting place, let the weary rest; and this
is the place of repose"—
"As for God, His way is perfect." Psalm 18:30
There are times in the experience of many, when the
Elim-palms seem to have yielded to the tempest; when, amid adverse and
baffling providences, "the foundations of the world are out of course," and
all things appear to be rushing into wreck and darkness. The Divine,
everlasting vigil seems to have ceased; and echo only answers to the wild
cry of despair—"Where is now my God?" Why these worldly losses, these cruel
disappointments, these beds of sickness, these gaps in the loved circle? God
creating affections only to wither them; severing us, in the twinkling of an
eye, from those He had sent to be helpers of our faith, interpreters of His
own goodness and wisdom and love—High priests in the domestic temple, whose
removal leaves a silent, desolated altar, with incense unkindled and lamps
put out, cherished memories alone surviving to read and reveal the loss! Can
there be love or wisdom or faithfulness here?
Hush these and such like atheistic doubts; repress these
and such like unworthy surmises. "As for God, His way is perfect." This was
a lesson impressively taught to Israel as they had now pitched their tents
under the desert palms. They, like many of God's Israel still, might have
been tempted at first to misinterpret the Divine dealings. At the very
outset from Egypt the cloudy pillar appeared to mislead them. Instead
of taking them the near and direct route to Canaan, it conducted them round
'by the way of the wilderness.' They had the Red Sea in front, and their
pursuers behind. The shout goes up from the Egyptian host—"They are
entangled, the wilderness has shut them in!" Even Moses yields to the panic
and despondency of the hour. "Why," says the Jehovah he doubted—"Why are you
crying out to Me? Tell the Israelites to move on." Forward they did
go, under the guidance of the symbol of the Divine Presence; and what was
the song with which they made the opposite shores resound? It was the
adoration of the all-perfect ways of God, vindicating the rectitude
of His procedure; "You in Your mercy have led forth the people which You
have redeemed: You have guided them in Your strength unto Your holy
This loving and gracious Guide still "leads Joseph like a
flock;" even although often, in a spiritual sense, He makes 'the depths of
the sea' a way for His ransomed to pass over. We, too, may have our winding
routes through the desert, our Red Seas of trouble, our Marahs
of bitterness, our varied seasons of misgiving and despondency
and trial. There may seem to be no wisdom in the dealing to which He
is subjecting us. His way may truly seem to be "in the sea, and His path in
the deep waters, and His judgments unsearchable." But it is for us to listen
in submissive faith to His sovereign mandate, "Go forward." Thus following
the guidance of the pillar-cloud we cannot go wrong.
It is not for us to judge of the reasons for
apparently harsh measures, hidden from our gaze, and known only to the
Infinitely Gracious One. Even regarding temporal things, we are constantly
taught never to judge prematurely of an incomplete plan. Why disturb those
lovely fields, and make crude gashes in those smiling valleys? Wait with
your verdict until Science finishes her work, and thousands are seen to
speed along the iron highway! Why disturb the virgin marble slumbering in
earth's bosom, leaving unsightly seams and scars in its native quarry? Wait
until you see that unwieldy block fashioned into a graceful pillar, or into
a piece of breathing sculpture! "What I do," says He, "you know not now,
but you shall know hereafter."
The dropping or withdrawal of the fronds of
some cherished earthly Elim-palm may be to allow heaven's better sunshine,
hitherto impeded, to fall full upon you. "Why," says one of the saintliest
men of the past generation, "Why are we not amply satisfied and accepting in
the wise management of the Great Counselor, who puts clouds and darkness
round about Him, bidding us follow at His beck through the cloud, promising
an eternal and uninterrupted sunshine on the other side?" "Commit, then,
your way unto the Lord, trust also in Him and He shall bring it to pass."
"Although you say you can not see Him, yet judgment is before Him, therefore
trust in Him." "So long," says an old writer (Bridge), "as one who is
learning to swim can touch earth with his feet, he does not commit himself
to the stream. So long as the soul can stand on second causes, it
does not commit itself to the stream of God's mercy." Let us trust
His heart, when we fail to trace His hand.
"Into the future,
That unknown land,
Fearless we venture,
Holding His hand.
Trusting His promise,
Waiting His will,
Kept by His power
Peaceful and still."
You, O God, led Your people of old, by the right hand of
Moses, with Your glorious arm, "dividing the water before them to make
Yourself an everlasting name" (Isa. 63:12). "Awake, awake," on our behalf,
still, "O Arm of the Lord!" Finite wisdom has no place in your
dealings. Let us seek no other way, let us surrender ourselves to no other
guidance but His; remembering that "all the paths of the Lord are
mercy and truth unto such as keep His covenant and His testimonies."
We may now be, like the panic-stricken Hebrews,
confronting the barrier waves; the unsparing foe behind, the desolate
wilderness around. But fear not! that sea will, in some gracious way, recede
to make a dry-shod pathway; that wilderness on the other side, with dreary
sand and jutting cliff, will provide Elim resting-places with overshadowing
palms and refreshing springs. At all events, the day is coming, when, if not
under the palms of the wilderness—at least in the true Resting-places of the
Heavenly Elim—we shall join in the triumphant ascription, "The Lord is
righteous in all His ways, and holy in all His works."
"Soon," says an eminent Christian now experiencing the
reality of her own words, "Soon our tale shall be finished; the history of
our lives will be put by in the library of God as a volume of His
faithfulness;" and heaven will resound with this song, which on earth is
often warbled with trembling lips, "As for God, His way is perfect!"
"Times are changing, days are flying,
Years are quickly past and gone;
While the wildly mingled murmur
Of life's busy hum goes on.
Sounds of tumult, sounds of triumph,
Marriage chimes and death-knoll bell;
Yet, through all, one keynote sounding
Angels' watchword—'It is well!'
"We may hear it through the rushing
Of the midnight tempest's wave;
We may hear it through the weeping
Round the newly-covered grave;
In the dreary house of mourning,
In the darkened room of pain,
If we listen meekly, rightly,
We may catch that soothing strain.
"And thus, while the years are fleeting,
Though our joys are with them gone,
In Your changeless love rejoicing,
We shall journey calmly on.
Until at last, all sorrow over,
Each our tale of grace shall tell,
In the heavenly chorus joining—
Lord, You have done all things well!"
"Is it well with you?…and she answered, it is well!"