The Practical Value of a Promise
"O LORD, You have searched me and You know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
You perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
You are familiar with all my ways!" Psalm 139:1-3
Doctrines are not such cold, lifeless things as some would have us to believe. There is no doctrine of Scripture which is not fitted to affect the life of him who believes it. Consider the proper influence upon us, of the doctrine and promise of the Savior's abiding presence with His redeemed people. If we believe and always recollect that Christ is truly with us always—how will it affect us?
For one thing it will make us very thoughtful and careful in all our words and acts. Christ is present in His holiness as well as in His love and tenderness. His pure eyes see all our life, and see into our hearts. He is ever beholding us—our real inner life.
The thought of the Master's eye upon us should . . .
make us holy,
rebuke our sins, and
hold us back from evil.
We cannot do wicked things in the presence of even a pure and holy human friend. But could we be continually conscious of Christ's perpetual presence with us, of His eye ever resting upon us:
Could we run into sin?
Could we live carelessly?
Could we trifle?
Could we speak sharp, bitter, or unkind words?
Could we do unholy, unlovely things?
Surely the realizing of His perpetual abiding presence would make us live reverently, purely, lovingly—so as always to please and never to grieve Him.
Another effect would be to stimulate us to earnestness and fidelity. Soldiers always fight more bravely and do most heroically when they know that the commander's eye is on them. They want to win his approval. The consciousness of his presence inspires them to valiant deeds. So the consciousness of the presence of Christ incites his followers to courage and endurance. The Master's eye is on them and they must not falter.
It is given as the secret of the endurance of Moses, when he refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter and chose the reproach of Christ and the lot of the slave instead—that he "endured as seeing Him who is invisible." Out of the silence of the heavens, Moses saw the eye of God looking down upon him, and he scorned riches and crowns and earthly honors, and gave them all up, as if they were bits of worthless tinsel, for the sake of the invisible glories which hung over the slave huts of his people.
It was the consciousness of the presence of Christ also, that inspired in Paul his marvelous heroisms of faith. He could not falter before any danger, any sacrifice, any responsibility—for the Lord ever stood beside him.
There is a thrilling incident in Scottish history. At the battle of Prestonpans a Highland chief, of the noble house of MacGregor, fell wounded by two shots. When they saw their chief fall, the clan wavered. The dying chieftain saw it, and, raising himself on his elbow, the blood gushing in streams from his wounds, he cried aloud, "I am not dead; I am watching you to see you do your duty." These words revived the sinking courage of the brave Highlanders. They were fighting under the eye of their chief, and this consciousness put new energy into their arms.
So it is with every Christian soldier who realizes the presence of Christ. The battle is hard, and may seem to go against him. He says, "I cannot hold out any longer." But that moment he hears the Savior's words, "I am not dead; I am watching you to see you do your duty," and the words put new courage and energy into his heart and enable him to triumph.
"The LORD is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth. He fulfills the desires of those who fear Him; He hears their cry and saves them. The LORD watches over all who love Him." Psalm 145:18-20
The firm believing of this promise will give new meaning and reality to prayer. Many people are perplexed at times as they think about prayer. Is there really an ear to hear the words we speak when we bow in prayer? How can God hear us so far away? Then suppose ten thousand of God's children, in different parts of the world, are praying at the same moment—how can He hear them all, and disentangle the confusion of the words as they come up to Him, and distinguish the supplications of each?
Who has not at some time been puzzled and even perplexed by such questions? But the promise of Christ's abiding presence makes it all plain. He is not way off in any imagined central Heaven, up to which all prayers of earth must fly through the air before they can be heard or answered. He is close beside each one of us.
We remember how it was when Jesus was on the earth in human form.
The people came to him with their needs and sorrows.
Those who sinned came with their confessions, bathing His feet with their penitential tears.
Those who were in trouble came with their burdens.
That is what prayer is now, only now Christ can be with millions at the same moment of time, as He could not be when in the flesh.
Prayer is just talking to Jesus . . .
weeping at His dear feet if we have sinned,
leaning upon His bosom if we are weary or in sorrow,
breathing our heart's longings into His ear,
telling Him our needs, whatever they may be.
Does not the realization of this truth of the Lord's presence with us, take from prayer all its mystery?
Then the promise of Christ's perpetual presence with us, ought to give us a wonderful sense of safety in life's dangers and trials. If we but fully believed that Christ is always close beside us—of what should we ever be afraid? "If God is for us, who can be against us?"
The disciples on the sea, in the wild storm, were terrified; but they need not have been, for Jesus was with them, though sleeping for the moment in his weariness. The ship that bore the Christ could never have gone down into the waves.
Just as truly is Jesus with every one of his disciples, in every hour of danger—and no harm can come to the least of them. They may have troubles and may suffer, and may even be killed; but none of these experiences can really harm one who is dwelling in the secret place of the Lord's presence.
Nor is it only in the great needs and dangers that Christ is with us. He is with us "all the days"—even the most common days. No portion of our life is too small or too trivial to interest him. He wants to be admitted into every part of our life.
It is a great thing to have a true, strong, faithful human friend—to whom one can turn for sympathy, counsel, strength and help at any hour of any day or night. It brings into one's life a wonderful sense of security to have such a friend. But the largest, truest, noblest, strongest human friendship has its limitations. It may advise wrongly through ignorance and shortsightedness. It may be beyond reach when you need it most. It may have too little strength to be of service when the trial comes. But there are none of these limitations in him who says to each follower of his, "Surely I am with you always—to the very end of the age!" He is almighty. He is perfect in wisdom. He is a very present help in every time of trouble.
These are a few of the practical effects in our life which the realization of this one divine promise should have.