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) 

Cushion of the Sea

“And the peace of God, which transcends all our powers of thought, will be a garrison to guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:7) (Weymouth).

There is what is called the “cushion of the sea.” Down beneath the surface that is agitated by storms, and driven about with winds, there is a part of the sea that is never stirred. When we dredge the bottom and bring up the remains of animal and vegetable life we find that they give evidence of not having been disturbed in the least, for hundreds and thousands of years. The peace of God is that eternal calm which, like the cushion of the sea, lies far too deep down to be reached by any external trouble and disturbance; and he who enters into the presence of God, becomes partaker of that undisturbed and undisturbable calm.–Dr. A. T. Pierson

When winds are raging o’er the upper ocean,
And billows wild contend with angry roar,
‘Tis said, far down beneath the wild commotion,
That peaceful stillness reigneth evermore.

Far, far beneath, the noise of tempest dieth,
And silver waves chime ever peacefully,
And no rude storm, how fierce soe’er it flieth,
Disturbs the Sabbath of that deeper sea.

So to the heart that knows Thy love, O Purest,
There is a temple sacred evermore,
And all the babble of life’s angry voices
Dies in hushed silence at its peaceful door.

Far, far away, the roar of passion dieth,
And loving thoughts rise calm and peacefully,
And no rude storm, how fierce soe’er it flieth,
Disturbs the soul that dwells, O Lord, in Thee.
–Harriet Beecher Stowe

“The Pilgrim they laid in a large upper chamber, facing the sun-rising. The name of the chamber was Peace.” –Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress

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

In Me

“In me . . . peace” (John 16:33).

There is a vast difference between happiness and blessedness. Paul had imprisonments and pains, sacrifice and suffering up to the very limit; but in the midst of it all, he was blessed. All the beatitudes came into his heart and life in the midst of those very conditions.

Paganini, the great violinist, came out before his audience one day and made the discovery just as they ended their applause that there was something wrong with his violin. He looked at it a second and then saw that it was not his famous and valuable one.

He felt paralyzed for a moment, then turned to his audience and told them there had been some mistake and he did not have his own violin. He stepped back behind the curtain thinking that it was still where he had left it, but discovered that some one had stolen his and left that old second-hand one in its place. He remained back of the curtain a moment, then came out before his audience and said:

“Ladies and Gentlemen: I will show you that the music is not in the instrument, but in the soul.” And he played as he had never played before; and out of that second-hand instrument, the music poured forth until the audience was enraptured with enthusiasm and the applause almost lifted the ceiling of the building, because the man had revealed to them that music was not in the machine but in his own soul.

It is your mission, tested and tried one, to walk out on the stage of this world and reveal to all earth and Heaven that the music is not in conditions, not in the things, not in externals, but the music of life is in your own soul.

If peace be in the heart,
The wildest winter storm is full of solemn beauty,
The midnight flash but shows the path of duty,
Each living creature tells some new and joyous story,
The very trees and stones all catch a ray of glory,
If peace be in the heart.

–Charles Francis Richardson

Carry Your Cross

“Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Mark 8:34).

The cross which my Lord bids me take up and carry may assume different shapes. I may have to content myself with a lowly and narrow sphere, when I feel that I have capacities for much higher work. I may have to go on cultivating year after year, a field which seems to yield me no harvests whatsoever. I may be bidden to cherish kind and loving thoughts about someone who has wronged me–be bidden speak to him tenderly, and take his part against all who oppose him, and crown him with sympathy and succor. I may have to confess my Master amongst those who do not wish to be reminded of Him and His claims. I may be called to “move among my race, and show a glorious morning face,” when my heart is breaking.

There are many crosses, and every one of them is sore and heavy. None of them is likely to be sought out by me of my own accord. But never is Jesus so near me as when I lift my cross, and lay it submissively on my shoulder, and give it the welcome of a patient and unmurmuring spirit.

He draws close, to ripen my wisdom, to deepen my peace, to increase my courage, to augment my power to be of use to others, through the very experience which is so grievous and distressing, and then–as I read on the seal of one of those Scottish Covenanters whom Claverhouse imprisoned on the lonely Bass, with the sea surging and sobbing round–I grow under the load.–Alexander Smellie.

“Use your cross as a crutch to help you on, and not as a stumblingblock to cast you down.”

“You may others from sadness to gladness beguile,
If you carry your cross with a smile.”

(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)