Waiting is Hard

“When the cloud tarried . . . then the children of Israel . . . journeyed not” (Num. 9:19).

This was the supreme test of obedience. It was comparatively easy to strike tents, when the fleecy folds of the cloud were slowly gathering from off the Tabernacle, and it floated majestically before the host. Change is always delightful; and there was excitement and interest in the route, the scenery, and the locality of the next halting-place. But, ah, the tarrying.

Then, however uninviting and sultry the location, however trying to flesh and blood, however irksome to the impatient disposition, however perilously exposed to danger–there was no option but to remain encamped.

The Psalmist says, “I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.” And what He did for the Old Testament saints He will do for believers throughout all ages.

Still God often keeps us waiting. Face to face with threatening foes, in the midst of alarms, encircled by perils, beneath the impending rock. May we not go? Is it not time to strike our tents? Have we not suffered to the point of utter collapse? May we not exchange the glare and heat for green pastures and still waters?

There is no answer. The cloud tarries, and we must remain, though sure of manna, rock-water, shelter, and defense. God never keeps us at post without assuring us of His presence, and sending us daily supplies.

Wait, young man, do not be in a hurry to make a change! Minister, remain at your post! Until the cloud clearly moves, you must tarry. Wait, then, thy Lord’s good pleasure! He will be in plenty of time!–Daily Devotional Commentary

An hour of waiting!
Yet there seems such need
To reach that spot sublime!
I long to reach them–but I long far more
To trust HIS time!

“Sit still, my daughter”–
Yet the heathen die,
They perish while I stay!
I long to reach them–but I long far more
To trust HIS way!

‘Tis good to get,
‘Tis good indeed to give!
Yet is it better still–
O’er breadth, thro’ length, down length, up height,
To trust HIS will! –F. M. N.

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

When God Says No

“There hath not failed one word of all his good promise” (1 Kings 8:56).

Some day we shall understand that God has a reason in every NO which He speaks through the slow movement of life. “Somehow God makes up to us.” How often, when His people are worrying and perplexing themselves about their prayers not being answered, is God answering them in a far richer way! Glimpses of this we see occasionally, but the full revelation of it remains for the future.

“If God says ‘Yes’ to our prayer, dear heart,
And the sunlight is golden, the sky is blue,
While the smooth road beckons to me and you,
And the song-birds warble as on we go,
Pausing to gather the buds at our feet,
Stopping to drink of the streamlets we meet,
Happy, more happy, our journey will grow,
If God says ‘Yes’ to our prayer, dear heart.

“If God says ‘No’ to our prayer, dear heart,
And the clouds hang heavy and dull and gray;
If the rough rocks hinder and block the way,
While the sharp winds pierce us and sting with cold;
Ah, dear, there is home at the journey’s end,
And these are the trials the Father doth send
To draw us as sheep to His Heavenly fold,
If God says ‘No’ to our prayer, dear heart.”

Oh for the faith that does not make haste, but waits patiently for the Lord, waits for the explanation that shall come in the end, at the revelation of Jesus Christ! When did God take anything from a man, without giving him manifold more in return? Suppose that the return had not been made immediately manifest, what then? Is today the limit of God’s working time? Has He no provinces beyond this little world? Does the door of the grave open upon nothing but infinite darkness and eternal silence?

Yet, even confining the judgment within the hour of this life, it is true that God never touches the heart with a trial without intending to bring upon it some grander gift, some tenderer benediction. He has attained to an eminent degree of Christian grace who knows how to wait. –Selected

When the frosts are in the valley,
And the mountain tops are grey,
And the choicest buds are blighted,
And the blossoms die away,
A loving Father whispers,
“This cometh from my hand”;
Blessed are ye if ye trust
Where ye cannot understand.

If, after years of toiling,
Your wealth should fly away
And leave your hands all empty,
And your locks are turning grey,
Remember then your Father
Owns all the sea and land;
Blessed are ye if ye trust
Where ye cannot understand.
–Selected

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

Trust in His Promises

“God…calleth those things which be not as though they were” (Rom. 4:17).

What does that mean?  Why Abraham did this thing: he dared to believe God.  It seemed an impossibility at his age that Abraham should become the father of a child; it looked incredible; and yet God called him a “father of many nations” before there was a sign of a child; and so Abraham called himself “father” because God called him so.  That is faith; it is to believe and assert what God says.  “Faith steps on seeming void, and finds the rock beneath.”  Only say you have what God says you have, and He will make good to you all you believe.  Only it must be real faith, all there is in you must go over in that act of faith to God. –Crumbs

Be willing to live by believing and neither think nor desire to live in any other way.  Be willing to see every outward light extinguished, to see the eclipse of every star in the blue heavens, leaving nothing but darkness and perils around, if God will only leave in thy soul the inner radiance, the pure bright lamp which faith has kindled. –Thomas C. Upham

The moment has come when you must get off the perch of distrust, out of the nest of seeming safety, and onto the wings of faith; just such a time as comes to the bird when it must begin to try the air. It may seem as though you must drop to the earth; so it may seem to the fledgling.  It, too, may feel very like falling; but it does not fall–it’s pinions give it support, or, if they fail, the parent birds sweeps under and bears it upon its wings.

Even so will God bear you. Only trust Him; “thou shalt be holden up.” “Well, but,” you say, “am I to cast myself upon nothing?” That is what the bird seems to have to do; but we know the air is there, and the air is not so unsubstantial as it seems.

And you know the promises of God are there, and they are not unsubstantial at all. “But it seems an unlikely thing to come about that my poor weak soul should be girded with such strength.”

Has God said it shall? “That my tempted, yielding nature shall be victor in the strife.” Has God said it shall? “That my timorous, trembling heart shall find peace?” Has God said it shall? for, if He has, you surely do not mean to give Him the lie! Hath he spoken, and shall He not do it?

If you have gotten a word –“a sure word” of promise–take it implicitly, trust it absolutely. And this sure word you have; nay, you have more–you have Him who speaks the word confidently. “Yea, I say unto you,” trust Him. –J. B. Figgis, M. A.

(From the devotionals of Charles E Cowman – Streams in the Desert) 

Keep Your Hands Off

“Neither know we what to do; but our eyes are, upon thee” (2 Chron. 20:12).

A life was lost in Israel because a pair of human hands were laid unbidden upon the ark of God.  They were placed upon it with the best intent, to steady it when trembling and shaking as the oxen drew it along the rough way; but they touched God’s work presumptuously, and they fell paralyzed and lifeless.  Much of the life of faith consists in letting things alone.

If we wholly trust an interest to God, we must keep our hands off it; and He will guard it for us better than we can help Him.  “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.”

Things may seem to be going all wrong, but He knows as well as we; and He will arise in the right moment if we are really trusting Him so fully as to let Him work in His own way and time.  There is nothing so masterly as inactivity in some things, and there is nothing so hurtful as restless working, for God has undertaken to work His sovereign will. –A. B. Simpson.

“Being perplexed, I say, ‘Lord, make it right!
Night is as day to Thee,
Darkness as light.
I am afraid to touch Things that involve so much;
My trembling hand may shake,
My skilless hand may break;
Thine can make no mistake.’

“Being in doubt I say,
‘Lord, make it plain;
Which is the true, safe way?
Which would be gain?
I am not wise to know,
Nor sure of foot to go;
What is so clear to Thee, Lord, make it clear to me!'”

It is such a comfort to drop the tangles of life into God’s hands and leave them there.

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