Thursday, May 14, 2015

“I am not anxious to know the why, but only the where, of God...." Part II

In all their affliction He was afflicted,
And the Angel of His Presence saved them;
In His love and in His mercy He redeemed them,
And He lifted them and carried them all the days of old.
Isaiah 63:9

The LORD replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
Exodus 33:14

 Nothing is small!
No lily-muffled hum of summer bee
But finds some coupling with the spinning stars;
No pebble at your foot but proves a sphere;
…Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
But only he who sees takes off his shoes.

But the Angel of His Presence cannot mean anything to us unless we realize what kind of presence it is of which the prophet speaks. It means, first of all, a gracious, friendly, loving, sympathizing presence. God is with us in our troubles, not merely because He has to be there, since He is everywhere. He is there because He wants to be. Just as truly as you desire to be near your friends, your children, when they suffer, just so truly does God desire and choose to be near us in our afflictions. He would not be away from us even if He could. He is not present as a mere spectator, looking at us curiously while we suffer. He is with us as one who has the deepest interest in it all, feels all that happens to us, cares infinitely for us through it all.
         His Presence must save us, first of all, from the sense of meanness, littleness, unworthiness which embitters life and makes sorrow doubly hard to bear. The Presence of God must bring a sense of dignity, of elevation into our existence. It was a great king who once said, “Where I sleep, there is the palace.” The life that has the Presence of God in it can neither be trivial nor unworthy.
         The Angel of God’s face saves us from the sense of weakness, ignorance, incompetence, which overwhelms us in the afflictions of life. We feel not only that we are powerless to protect ourselves against trouble, but that we are not able to get the good out of it that ought to come to us. We cannot interpret our sorrow aright. We cannot see the real meaning of them. We cannot reach our hand through the years to catch “the far-off interest of tears.” We say to ourselves in despair, “God only knows what it means.” And if we do not believe that God is with us, then that thought shuts us up in the darkness, puts the interpretation of the mystery far away from us, locks us up in the prison house of sorrow and leaves the key in heaven. But if we believe that God is with us, then the word of despair becomes a word of hope.
         The Angel of God’s face saves us from the sense of loneliness, which is unbearable. Companionship is essential to happiness A solitary Eden would have been no Paradise. The deepest of all miseries is the sense of absolute isolation. In this painful solitude the present friendship of God is the only sure consolation. Nothing can divide us from Him—not misunderstanding, nor coldness, nor selfishness, nor scorn—for none of these things are possible to Him. Nothing can divide us from Him except our own sin, and that He has forgiven and taken away and blotted out by His great mercy in Christ.
         “I am not anxious to know the why, but only the where, of God. It matters little to me for what purpose He walks upon the storm, nor is it of deadly consequence whether or not He shall say, ‘Peace, be still.’ The all-important thing is that the feet upon the sea should be His feet—His, and not another’s. Tell me that, and I ask no more. There is all the difference in the world between a silent room and an empty room. There is a companionship where there is no voice. Is it not written, ‘In Thy presence is fullness of joy’? In the very sense that my Father is there, though He speak not, though He whisper not…there comes to my heart a great calm.”(George Matheson)


We know that the divinest thing in this world is love. That in God which is greatest is not power, not the shining splendor of deity, but love, which shows itself in plain, lowly ways. When the disciples came to the Master, saying, “Show us the Father,” they were thinking of some brilliant display, some revealing of God which would startle men. Jesus replied, “Have I been so long with you and yet have you not known Me?” He meant that the truest revealing of God to men is not in great theophanies, but in a ministry of gentleness, helpfulness, and kindness, such as Jesus had wrought through all the years.
         Mrs. Browning tells us that nature is full of the glory of God. Every common bush is afire with God for those who have eyes to see the brightness. But the truth is that most of us have no eyes for the splendor. Here and there is one who in the presence of God’s revealing, takes off his shoes in reverence. But people in general see nothing of divine glory, and only “sit ‘round and eat blackberries." We all rob ourselves continually of untold blessings which might easily be made ours if we knew the Christ who is always so near to us.

For the Best Things

~This post is dedicated to Naghmeh & Saeed Abedini as they walk apart during this trial of separation.

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