was Isaiah who wrote, "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their
strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not
be weary; they shall walk, and not faint."
There are only
a few moments of high drama in life; most of it is commonplace and ordinary.
And the real test of the Christian comes not in the moments of high drama,
but in the everyday, often monotonous and dreary round of ever recurring
chores and responsibilities. Probably most of those who read this paper
would, under the right circumstances, be willing to suffer martyrdom rather
than surrender the Christian's hope and heritage. We can, indeed "mount up
with wings as eagles," under great excitement and tension; we can "run, and
not be weary," for a short space of time...
But to walk,
day after day after day; to live in some desolate and hopeless environment,
bereft of Christian friends and associates; to perform the drudgery, the
same unbroken sequence of tired days and weary nights, the same melancholy
schedule of activities — how this can erode the soul and deaden the senses!
It was this terrible monotony of life which had brutalized the real spirit
of man in Millet's famous painting, and which caused Edwin Markham to write
of that peasant character:
"Bowed upon the
weight of centuries he leans Upon his hoe and gazes on the ground, The
emptiness of ages in his face, And on his back the burden of the world."
Paul felt no such weariness of life. He could write to the Corinthians, "but
though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For
our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more
exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which
are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are
seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal."
(2 Cor. 4:16-18).
The child of God lives in eternity — now. He is daily in the company of the
great saints of all ages. His earthly tasks are unimportant, one way or the
other, in themselves; they are given worth only as they are done in the
service of God. All of us are familiar with the story of the two
brick-masons who were asked by a passerby what they were doing. Said one,
"I'm laying bricks;" but the other said, "I'm building a cathedral to the
glory of God."
"How can you
live in Goshen? Said a friend from afar.
This is a wretched little place Where people talk about tawdry things
And plant cabbages in the moonlight... But I do not live in Goshen, I
I live in
Greece Where Plato taught and Phidias carved.
I live in Rome Where Cicero penned immortal lines
And Michelangelo dreamed things of beauty.
Do not think my
world is small Because you find me in a little village.
I have my books, my pictures, my dreams, Enchantments that transcend Time
I do not live in Goshen at all, I live in an unbounded universe
With the great souls of all the ages For my companions."
from "Goshen" by Edgar Frank, give the key to great living. Every one of us
lives in two worlds, one outer, one inner. We cannot control the outward
world. It has fires and floods, earthquakes, and wars, and famine. But the
inner world, the world of the spirit, is within the reach of every man. We
may walk with Moses and Abraham. We may walk the dusty, rocky hills of
Judea, or go through the flower strewn fields of Galilee with Jesus Christ
as our guide and companion. In all that we do, if we are serving Christ,
there is beauty and glory.
from Isaiah is climactic and not anti-climactic in its description of those
who "wait eagles; and to walk and not faint is even more difficult than to
run and not be weary. For the mounting up, and even the running, call for
quick, short bursts of energy; but the walking — walking — walking — through
long and lonely days, through hours of discouragement and despair, often in
pain and suffering, this is that which tries a man's soul. And only those
who "wait upon the Lord" can measure up to what is required.
From the prison
cell in Rome (or perhaps from his own hired dwelling while under house
arrest) Paul wrote his "thank you note" to the saints at Philippi. It is
perhaps the most joyous book in the entire New Testament. The key word in it
is the word "joy" or "rejoice." Out of one of the darkest and bleakest hours
of his life this beautiful short epistle bursts forth like the song of a
meadowlark whose small heart is about to break with the sheer joy of living.
It is contagious. No one can truly read this epistle without in some way
catching Paul's spirit of courage and optimism. He is a happy man!
Many of you who
read these lines will remember C. R. Nichol. We ran across a story about him
some years ago which may be apocryphal but which is quite in character for
him, and which is worth re-telling. One day in his old age he was in a
certain town holding a meeting, and chanced to be walking the few blocks
from his hotel to the church building for the morning service. He was
dressed immaculately (as usual) with the ever present rose bud pinned to his
lapel. As he walked with head thrown back and jaunty stride, he was softly
whistling a lilting happy tune. One of the brethren stopped him on the
street, and said, "Brother Nichol, you look like you own the does!"
never forgets that. He is the child of a King! his father owns the world! No
wonder he can walk, and not faint; no wonder he can write, "I rejoice in the
Lord greatly;" no wonder he can say, "We've had a good life; and when the
time comes, we are ready to go." This is not the exulting cry of a martyr
about to be burned at the stake; this is not spoken in the high drama of
Caesar's court as multitudes look on. This is the word of a humble servant
of Christ. He is not facing a ravenous lion in the Roman arena amid the
screaming excitement of a vast throng. Rather, in the very ordinary affairs
of life, perhaps in sickness, or loneliness, or isolation from loved ones,
he is aware of his eternal destiny. The world may look upon his life as the
very epitome of trivial and commonplace drudgery; but he remembers the word
of his Master, "whosoever would be first among you shall be your servant."
And he is neither ashamed nor unwilling to have his lot cast in the lowliest
and most humble occupations of earth if only therein he can serve his
It was the
blind Milton who wrote:
consider how my light is spent,
Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide,
"Doth God exact day-labor, light denied?"
I fondly ask. But patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, "God doth not need
Either man's works or his own gifts.
Who best Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best.
His state is kingly; thousands at his bidding speed,
And post o'er land and ocean without rest;
They also serve who only stand and wait."
by Fanning Yater Tant
Reaping the Whirlwind
For Times Out of Joint
My Generation Neglect the Grace of God?
Be Careful With the Blame
Is Unrestricted Loyalty a Virtue?
A New Dogma
How to Raise a Heartache
The Right Baptism
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