The Gentle Light that Wakes Me.
I’m writing this in the evening just after the sun has gone beyond the west woods. I’m listening to a hauntingly beautiful piece of music called The Gentle Light that Wakes Me. (I’ve included it in this post) Though I am writing at night you will likely read it in the morning. It will pair well with your coffee or tea this morning while you read. I will wait while you get the setting arranged.
The Lion is on the Move. Winter Baptisms.
Monday afternoon a young lady who worked last summer at Camp Barakel posted a video on her social-media account of a large, boisterous group of teens and twenty-somethings. She took the video Sunday night after dark.
In the back of a pick-up truck was a water trough filled with icy water. Snow was piled everywhere. In the back of the truck a young man stood and said to another young man sitting in the water, “Do you believe in Jesus Christ and as your Savior?” His breath hung in the icy air over his head.
With a radiant smile the young man in the water said, “I do.”
“I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
The standing young man lowers the sitting young man into the water.
The cold shocks him, but he leaps to his feet with his arms in the air, a new, baptized follower of Jesus!
The crowd gathered around explodes in joyful shouts and weeping, some of them leaping up and down.
Sunday night in that cold water 26 young people followed Jesus.
It is recorded in Matthew 10:32-33 that Jesus said;“Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge before my father who is in heaven, But whoever denies me before others, I will also will deny before my father who is in heaven.”
Don’t be discouraged. Jesus is still calling people to himself, young and old out of the darkness and the cold.
Pain and Suffering
For only the second time in 42 years I was unable to preach Sunday. I been confined to my room with a painful flare of gout. It is very painful. When I am in pain it is most natural for me to cry out to God in prayer. When that happens God always brings to many whose suffering is greater than mine and I pray for them. I use my suffering as an opportunity to prayer.
I think about others who have suffered faithfully. They were sustained by God to endure hardship. They endured suffering with grace and faithfulness.
Paul wrote this about his suffering: “So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor. 12:1-7 ESV)
The beloved English Baptist pastor Charles Spurgeon suffered agonizing episodes with gout. An article in Christianity Today included a helpful story about Spurgeon’s experience of suffering.
The disease that most severely afflicted Spurgeon was gout, a condition that sometimes produces exquisite pain. What can clearly be identified as gout had seized Spurgeon in 1869 when he was 35 years old. For the remainder of his life he would be laid aside for weeks or even months nearly every year with various illnesses. Space does not permit even an abridged chronicling of his physical sufferings. Some appreciation of them comes from this article in The Sword and the Trowel in 1871: “It is a great mercy to be able to change sides when lying in bed.… Did you ever lie a week on one side? Did you ever try to turn, and find yourself quite helpless? Did others lift you, and by their kindness reveal to you the miserable fact that they must lift you back again at once into the old position, for bad as it was, it was preferable to any other? … It is a great mercy to get one hour’s sleep at night.… What a mercy have I felt to have only one knee tortured at a time. What a blessing to be able to put the foot on the ground again, if only for a minute!”
A few months later he described in a sermon one experience during this period of affliction: “When I was racked some months ago with pain, to an extreme degree, so that I could no longer bear it without crying out, I asked all to go from the room, and leave me alone; and then I had nothing I could say to God but this, ‘Thou art my Father, and I am thy child; and thou, as a Father, art tender and full of mercy. I could not bear to see my child suffer as thou makest me suffer, and if I saw him tormented as I am now, I would do what I could to help him, and put my arms under him to sustain him. Wilt thou hide thy face from me, my Father? Wilt thou still lay on a heavy hand, and not give me a smile from thy countenance?’ … so I pleaded, and I ventured to say, when I was quiet, and they came back who watched me: ‘I shall never have such pain again from this moment, for God has heard my prayer.’ I bless God that ease came and the racking pain never returned.” He regularly referred to this incident, although it is impossible to determine whether his gout was never as excruciating as it was during that episode.
A border collie is a mostly black sheep dog. They are smart animals, swift and fierce when they go about their work. One a pastor was going through a period of suffering and retired to the countryside rest and recover. Watching the black dogs at work he heard the voice of truth in his soul: “Affliction is the Good Shepherd’s black dog.”
May God strengthen you to endure faithfully whatever suffering He has entrusted to you. The Lion is on the move when young people follow him with leaping steps and the Lion is on the move when older saints suffer quietly and still have humble, grateful, prayerful hearts in their beds of suffering through the night. He is able to make vulnerable young converts into lifelong faithful followers who are willing to suffer for his name’s sake.
February 24, 2021
The full article on Spurgeon is worth your time and can be found here.