Principles of God’s Working

“Preparation, delay and growth are characteristics of God’s working both in history and in nature. Scripture and the facts of nature meet, when James, exhorting us to patience, says:

The husband-man waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient over it.”

The same principle applies to our own spiritual lives, and to our labour in the LORD. A mature Christian is not the product of a day or a month or a year either. ‘It takes time’, said the late Dr Andrew Murray ‘to grow in Christ’. We must strike our roots down deep in the soil of the Word and be strengthened by long, long experience. It is a slow process, and it is right that it should be so: God does not want us to be spiritual mushrooms. It is true that in the LORD’s work there is a place for haste — the King’s business requires it (there is a right and wrong haste) , and there is assuredly a place for diligence, for earnestness. James Gilmour said he ‘did not think we could be too earnest in a matter for which Christ was so much in earnest that He laid down His life.’ You know it was said of Alleine that he was ‘insatiably greedy for souls’. While it is day we cannot be but up and doing to the limit of the strength which God supplies. But the element of corroding care will enter into Christian work if we let it, and it will not help, but hinder. We cannot fret souls into the Kingdom of Heaven; neither, when they are once converted, can we worry them into maturity; we cannot by taking thought, add a cubit to our own spiritual stature or to anyone else’s either. The plants of our Heavenly Father’s planting will grow better under His open sky than under the hothouses of our feverish effort: it is for us to water, and to water diligently, but we cannot give the increase however we try. An abnormally rapid growth is often unnatural and unhealthy: the quick growth spoken of in Matthew 13: 5 is actually said to be a sign of its being ephemeral.

In the biography of our LORD nothing is more noticeable than the quiet, even poise of His life. Never ‘flustered’ whatever happened, never taken off His guard, however assailed by men or demons: in the midst of fickle people, hostile rulers, faithless disciples — always calm, always collected, Christ the hard Worker indeed — but doing no more, and no less, than God had appointed Him; and with no restlessness, no hurry, no worry. Was ever such a peaceful life lived — under conditions so perturbing?

But we also, as He, are working for eternity and in eternity (eternity has already commenced for us): we can afford then to work in the atmosphere of eternity. The rush and bustle of carnal activity breathes a spirit of restlessness: the Holy Spirit breathes a deep calm. This is the atmosphere in which we may expect a lasting work of God to grow. Let us take care first of all that it is a work of God — begun and continued in God — and then let us cast our anxieties, our fears and our impatience to the winds. Let us shake off ‘dull sloth’ on the one hand and feverishness on the other. A gourd may spring up in a night, but not an oak (Isaiah 61: 3). The current may be flowing deep and strong in spite of ripples and counter-currents on the surface. And even when it receives a temporary set-back from the incoming tide of evil, we may yet learn to say — as Jeremiah once said under the most distressing circumstances —

‘It is good that a man should hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD.’ ”

— James Fraser, Mountain Rain.



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