I have a number of “lighted coals” in my life. One of them is Amy Carmichael whom I have quoted quite often in this blog. She never fails to “rekindle” me. And one of my favorite things is to introduce my good friends to one another. Here is another gem from her:
I have been reading Luke 1. “With God nothing shall be impossible” [Luke 1.37]. Then I read Acts 12. James was killed in prison; Peter was set free. God, with whom nothing is impossible, did not answer the prayers of those who loved James in the same way as He answered prayers of those who loved Peter. He could have done so, but He did not. “And blessed is he who takes no offense at Me” [Luke 7.43]. The words seem to me to be written across Acts 12. John must have wondered why the angel was not sent to James, or at least have been tempted to wonder. Again and again in Acts the Lord Jesus seems to say those words under His breath, as it were. Let us turn all our puzzles, all our temptations to wonder why, into opportunities to receive the blessing of the unoffended.
And now all the grief of those days has been utterly forgotten by those who loved James; they have all been together with him in the Presence of the Lord for 1900 years, and the one thing that matters now is how they lived through those days when their faith was tried to the uttermost.
So it will be with any who are longing to see the answer to their prayers for those who are in affliction, or any other adversity. In a few years–how few we do not know, but few at most–we shall all be together in joy. So with us, too, all that matters is how we live through these days while we are trusted to trust. (Thou Givest . . . They Gather, p. 76)
The same day that my good friend, Deb, was in her bad car accident, I heard of another person who spun out on the expressway, hit a truck, ended up facing the right direction, and was able to drive off without injury. I, too, have wondered, but I also know only too well: “Blessed is he who takes no offense at Me.”
Continuing from yesterday. . . In this meditation, Amy writes about the importance of our not leaning so much on our friends for support to the point that we don’t lean on the Lord–especially in those times when our friends can’t be there for us. David is in serious trouble–not just a slight emotional blip on the screen–and Jonathan is not there for him.
Next time we read of David being in serious trouble he had no Jonathan to strengthen his hands. “And David was greatly distressed; for the people spoke of stoning him . . . .But David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.” [1 Samuel 30.6] Long afterwards when he was delivered from Saul he sang one of his songs, “It is God who girded me with strength . . . You have girded me with strength . . . . The Lord lives.” [Ps 18.32, 39, 46] (His dear Jonathan was dead, but he does not even speak of him, all that matters is, “The Lord lives; and blessed be my Rock.”.)
If he had leaned on Jonathan, if Jonathan had made himself necessary to David, he would not have leaned on his Rock and proved the glorious strength of his Rock; his whole life would have been lived on a lower level, and who can tell how many of his songs would have been left unwritten, with great loss to the glory of God and to the Church of all ages?
So let us not weaken those whom we love be weak sympathy, but let us love them enough to detach them from ourselves and strengthen their hands in God.
God knows what and whom we need in our distress, and first and foremost, He will gird us with strength and be our Rock.
I thought, over the next few days, I would share some meditations by Amy Carmichael. Today’s focusses on those times when we can feel “hunted” and alone–or when a friend feels hunted and alone and how we can strengthen their hands.
1 Sam 23.16 And Jonathan, Saul’s son, arose, and went to David into the wood, and strengthened his hand in God.
God make us all His Jonathans. There is a great hunter abroad in the world. Like Saul who sought David every day, he seeks souls every day, never a day’s respite, always the hunt is on. Although the words stand forever, “but God did not give him into his hands” [v. 14], yet sometimes souls tire of being hunted, and like David they are in a wilderness in a wood. Then is Jonathan’s chance. But notice what he does, he does not so comfort David that he becomes necessary to him. “He strengthened his hand in God.” He leaves his friend strong in God, resting in God, safe in God. he detaches his dear David from himself and he attaches him to his “Very Present Help” [see Psalm 46.1]. Then Jonathan went to his house, and David abode in the wood–with God.
May God help us each to be Jonathans for each of the people in our lives.