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The Hard Cold Days Of Preparation

Even as a Father gathering His children close to him God comes near to you ever more. He comes to you not only as a Father in name but as a Father in love and understanding and compassion. To you, apparently so lonely and neglected, the ideal father stands out in your mind as something so precious but altogether so beyond your horizon as to bring nothing but chill and anguish to the heart. It is not sufficient to remember your Heavenly Father Who has loved you for a time long beyond your imagination. It is not sufficient because the Great Father of all seems so far away, so occupied with other things. To your physical mind there is no outward and visible indication of that great Fatherly love.

But God has indeed been your protecting Father for a very long time. Because you are His child He can separate Himself in no way from the things that vex and hurt you. Indeed, they strike you only through Him and through His very heart. If only you could remember this more. God could claim to be everything that your mind could conjure up in regard to fatherhood; for His love is as extensive as the most forlorn could wish. In fact, it so often overflows its borders that you often mistake the overflow for the real strong River itself.

Can you not take comfort in this thought? Can you not trust Him more? Can you not feel Him more closely in your life? God is always there! Sadness, discord, or bitterness is powerless to separate Him from those He loves, and if you would only call upon Him more often you would take from Him much of the grief which He experiences in connection with your life.

To you the prospect seems almost hopeless. It is as though the little boat of your life were out on a dark and dangerous sea. You have prayed for the guiding star but your eyes are so blinded by tears that you cannot see any of the many stars that shine. You have pulled at the oars in so frantic a way that you have lost your sense of direction, and you sometimes ask yourself whether you are indeed pulling towards the Promised Land or whether only to the rock of destruction.

That is your view. If it were a reasonable one then all the promises and all the love of God count for nothing. If this picture exists in your imagination only then your reply is inevitably that they do not understand.

God does understand! The river is only dark and confusing to you. God and the Spirits can see the objects quite plainly on either side, they can see the stars above. They know that in a little while you shall emerge from the awful night into the dawn of glory. When you have crossed the bar of unhappiness misunderstanding will be a thing of the past. Even now they could be avoided to a large extent, but the shadows are not missing any opportunities and their power over you is altogether too great.

Do not misunderstand. It is largely a question of memory. When things go wrong immediately in your mind there rises a hundred examples in the past of a similar nature. Seeing things with spiritual sight, the blows of the evil were turned again and again by the mercy and love of God.

How often is it that the thing itself is of trivial importance compared with the host of awful memories that the incident brings back. The mind works on an axle, and at a moment's notice the panorama of the past comes rolling back, and to your nerve-racked mind there seems no end and no beginning of it all.

This question of memory causes a great deal of trouble. You have it proven over and over again that you can forget the incidents of today. It is getting increasingly easy as God’s power and influence over you develops. This gift comes direct from God. It is He who gives the strength and the ability to draw the open sides of the wound together and to hold them in place until it is healed. But it does not apply in the same degree to those things which happened, in some cases, many years ago.

You know how it is with a tree. The blows received by the young and tender bark are covered over in time to come, but the mark remains for ever. When the old and seasoned wood is cut for use, those who thought they had the perfect article are grieved to see here and there a dark line which represents damage in years gone by.

It is the same with human life, with some people much more so than others. There are some who bear the marks of early suffering right through physical life, and it is only when the body is laid aside and they see the meaning of it all that those dark scars are made one with the beauty which otherwise would be spoiled.

There is much to be concerned about these old wounds. They were bad ones, there is no denying that, but because they were so bad isn't it all the more necessary to forbid the memory of them approaching now? If they appeared so evil then, should you not divorce yourself for ever from that which is ugly and loathsome? The wounds break out afresh, it is no use denying that, and in some cases memory is all too keen; and the balm all too insufficient for the need at hand.

Won't you let God, as your Father, try and help you more; won't you combine with Him instead of opposing Him in covering up those deep stabs for ever more? They are past and because you suffered they have brought you gifts in plenty which would represent unlimited treasure to you. Therefore the recollection of them should not be sad; they should represent gain, not loss. They should stand for joy not anguish!

How can you understand! In your sleeping hours all is clear and acceptable to your heart and mind. You know that is true because of the peace that is with you as you wake.

You feel your position most keenly because of that lack of protecting care in your daily life. On all sides you see the thing in its completeness and in its happiness, and the thought arises again and again as to the injustice of the distribution of gladness. Your innermost thoughts are known to God. He sees the hardship as it is represented by the shadows to you.

Turn then to the other side of the shield. How about the parent who is so full of love and tenderness for their child, and the child does not return it? As you develop in the Christ stage so does your capacity for feeling grow and expand. As a natural consequence your sensitiveness to the lack of that which you long to make your own also grows. It must appeal to your common sense that in the case of a child and the parent, the parent suffers more through the child than the child has the capacity to feel at the coldness of the parent. Being young they are built on smaller lines, and this applies to everything.

In a thousand ways even an affectionate child has the power to stab and wound the one they literally adore, the little life entrusted in their charge. You have seen that and it has caused you pain to witness it. This is the position as it stands in actual fact. For all time you are God’s child, and that as your Father, God is never separated from you, as needs must be with a father on earth. Remember that God, because He is older and more experienced than you are, is not less likely to be hurt, but that you have it in your power to inflict pain quite beyond your imagination.

There will come a time when you will look back and exclaim in wonderment that the evil had the power to cause so much sadness in your life. The wonder will be there because then you will see that all the time you were in the Arms of God and that what seemed darkness and desolation really represented protection and the brightness which is of Him.

All your misgivings are not going to distract Him from that bright and happy future in front. When you have worked for a thing late and early through the long years of waiting, then it has taken such a firm hold of the mind that nothing is strong enough to come in between. Let your wings grow a little more; don't weigh yourself down to the earth as you do; let your mind soar. Happiness is your right, it is the gift of God to all! When things go wrong, then that is against God's wish, and in many instances if one or the other had only kept close to Him it might have been avoided. In other cases, it is through the spiritual will of the person concerned. They let the lesser go for the sake of the greater. The eyes of the soul have seen unutterable things; they have looked beyond the darkness of earth into the glory of the Infinite, and seeing what it all means, have thrown aside the toys almost within their grasp. These are sacred to God, and it is their own choice that they let the things of the physical pass them by, for the sake of those of the Spirit.

In the springtime of any great venture most of the work is done, and it is done generally under the most uninviting conditions. Those who till the soil start when the ground is hard and when the wind blows cold. It is a cheerless task preparing that which cannot show any reward for months to come, and some have watched the preparation of a field with amazement. Those born in the city have an idea that with horse and plough you open the long furrow and then put the seed inside and leave the rest to the wisdom of nature. Looking at it like this it seems quite an easy, simple task, and naturally the field of wheat in all its loveliness is a great reward for the time so spent.

The countryperson tells a very different story. They know that only by going over the same ground again and again, with care and with vigilance, can they hope for a harvest at all. And so they start early. In the winter days the preparation commences and they are always on the outlook for enemies of all kinds, for they know that sooner or later the weakness or the strength of those enemies will be shown in that which they have planted.

If you could visualise this as an illustration of the work you have in hand it would be a certain help to you. The days that have passed have been the hard cold winter-time of preparation. The new day that has dawned is one big step further on, but not the harvest. No, it is the springtime; the springtime when the sun comes out once more and, scattering the greyness and coldness aside, announces to all that is in command. How joyous the children of earth are to respond to that warmth and brightness! So it will be with you, and under that sun you are going to see in the soil that which represents your own life, the green shoots of achievement and effort and concentration forcing their way through, and the barren earth is barren no more!

To those who have planted, the contemplation of the green blades brings almost more pleasure than the golden harvest itself, because it creates hope where there was no hope before.

Go back to your childhood. Remember the little packets of seed and the trembling hand that shook them carefully into the little ridge marked out. That was happiness, and then followed the period of anxiety and scrutiny and disappointment. The seeds made no sign and you began to wonder whether something had gone wrong. Then the day of all days came and under the bright sun you discovered the thin irregular line of green. The seeds had made their showing!

It is so natural and worked out right through physical, and spiritual life as well, to a certain degree. You plant in hope and the waiting is not easy, but the joy comes with the first signs which bear evidence to the roots beneath.

Take this little simile and think it over again and again. You are going to have that great joy of seeing that which was planted in cold and dreary days coming up and turning desolation into companionship, and hope into certainty itself.

You have witnessed really terrible struggle, and if the opponent of evil had not been a soldier of the Christ they could not have overcome what there was to fight against.

Try to help those so hard-pressed by contending forces. You do it instinctively, and when you are released from your own great difficulties you will then instinctively too send thoughts of help and support in all directions; and that will build truly and securely the foundation for the permanent comfort of others in the days to come.

Start each new week with happy thoughts, put sad yesterday out of sight and go forward with a heart for anything; which means always that before cheerfulness the shadows have to retire, before courage their own daring weakens, and before faith they melt away.

God be with you and lift your heart out of the dark abyss on to the bright shore, the golden shore, which in every truth exists for all. The golden shore where weariness and disappointment are no more, and where the sands are so firm that nothing can move you from the position where you stand.

Try and take the blessing of God on to you. The blessing of the Holy Spirit, and the confidence which it brings, the peace, and the joy and the will to continue, not to the bitter end, but to that glorious end which God has appointed for those who seek to serve Him. The sun is just over the hill, only just. Soon you shall see its brightness, in spite of everything.


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