Heart’s Sacrifice

“But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ” (Phil. 3:7).

When they buried the blind preacher, George Matheson, they lined his grave with red roses in memory of his love-life of sacrifice. And it was this man, so beautifully and significantly honored, who wrote,

“O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in Thee,
I give Thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.

“O Light that followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to Thee,
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in Thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.

“O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to Thee,
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shalt tearless be.

“O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from Thee,
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red,
Life that shall endless be.”

There is a legend of an artist who had found the secret of a wonderful red which no other artist could imitate. The secret of his color died with him. But after his death an old wound was discovered over his heart. This revealed the source of the matchless hue in his pictures. The legend teaches that no great achievement can be made, no lofty attainment reached, nothing of much value to the world done, save at the cost of heart’s blood.
 
(From Charles E Cowman Devotionals – Streams in the Desert) 

Grow in the Gloom

“I have all, and abound” (Phil. 4:18).

In one of my garden books there is a chapter with a very interesting heading, “Flowers that Grow in the Gloom.”  It deals with those patches in a garden which never catch the sunlight.  And my guide tells me the sort of flowers which are not afraid of these dingy corners–may rather like them and flourish in them.
 
And there are similar things in the world of the spirit.  They come out when material circumstances become stern and severe.  They grow in the gloom.  How can we otherwise explain some of the experiences of the Apostle Paul ?

Here he is in captivity at Rome.  The supreme mission of his life appears to be broken.  But it is just in this besetting dinginess that flowers begin to show their faces in bright and fascinating glory.  He may have seen them before, growing in the open road, but never as they now appeared in incomparable strength and beauty.  Words of promise opened out their treasures as he had never seen them before.

Among those treasures were such wonderful things as the grace of Christ, the love of Christ, the joy and peace of Christ; and it seemed as though they needed an “encircling gloom” to draw out their secret and their inner glory.  At any rate the realm of gloom became the home of revelation, and Paul began to realize as never before the range and wealth of his spiritual inheritance.  Who has not known men and women who, when they arrive at seasons of gloom and solitude, put on strength and hopefulness like a robe?  You may imprison such folk where you please; but you shut up their treasure with them.  You cannot shut it out. You may make their material lot a desert, but “the wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad, and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose.”–Dr. Jowett

“Every flower, even the fairest, has its shadow beneath it as it swings in the sunlight.”

Where there is much light there is much shade.

(From Charles E Cowman Devotionals – Streams in the Desert)

Joined in God

“As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” (2 Cor. 6:10).

Sorrow was beautiful, but her beauty was the beauty of the moonlight shining through the leafy branches of the trees in the wood, and making little pools of silver here and there on the soft green moss below.

When Sorrow sang, her notes were like the low sweet call of the nightingale, and in her eyes was the unexpectant gaze of one who has ceased to look for coming gladness.  She could weep in tender sympathy with those who weep, but to rejoice with those who rejoice was unknown to her.

Joy was beautiful, too, but his was the radiant beauty of the summer morning.  His eyes still held the glad laughter of childhood, and his hair had the glint of the sunshine’s kiss.  When Joy sang his voice soared upward as the lark’s, and his step was the step of a conqueror who has never known defeat.  He could rejoice with all who rejoice, but to weep with those who weep was unknown to him.

“But we can never be united,” said Sorrow wistfully.

“No, never.”  And Joy’s eyes shadowed as he spoke.  “My path lies through the sunlit meadows, the sweetest roses bloom for my gathering, and the blackbirds and thrushes await my coming to pour forth their most joyous lays.”

“My path,” said Sorrow, turning slowly away, “leads through the darkening woods, with moon-flowers only shall my hands be filled.  Yet the sweetest of all earth-songs–the love song of the night–shall be mine; farewell, Joy, farewell.”

Even as she spoke they became conscious of a form standing beside them; dimly seen, but of a Kingly Presence, and a great and holy awe stole over them as they sank on their knees before Him.

“I see Him as the King of Joy,” whispered Sorrow, “for on His Head are many crowns, and the nailprints in His hands and feet are the scars of a great victory.  Before Him all my sorrow is melting away into deathless love and gladness, and I give myself to Him forever.”

“Nay, Sorrow,” said Joy softly, “but I see Him as the King of Sorrow, and the crown on His head is a crown of thorns, and the nailprints in His hands and feet are the scars of a great agony.  I, too, give myself to Him forever, for sorrow with Him must be sweeter than any joy that I have known.”

“Then we are one in Him,” they cried in gladness, “for none but He could unite Joy and Sorrow.”

Hand in hand they passed out into the world to follow Him through storm and sunshine, in the bleakness of winter cold and the warmth of summer gladness, “as sorrowful yet always rejoicing.”

“Should Sorrow lay her hand upon thy shoulder,
And walk with thee in silence on life’s way,
While Joy, thy bright companion once, grown colder,
Becomes to thee more distant day by day?
Shrink not from the companionship of Sorrow,
She is the messenger of God to thee;
And thou wilt thank Him in His great tomorrow
For what thou knowest not now, thou then shalt see;
She is God’s angel, clad in weeds of night,
With ‘whom we walk by faith and not by sight.'”

(From Charles E Cowman Devotionals – Streams in the Desert)