Confidence in His Will – Frank Weston – Original text
Are we inclined to think of God as a little bit apart from us? Do we really begin with the certainty of the divine Will to save us – and the certainty of the Divine Power to carry us through temptation? Or are we convinced that if only we had more opportunities, and a little more grace, we should fare much better? Aren’t we all too often under the impression that if God would just do a little bit more for us, then we could become like saints?
All such thinking is entirely wrong, and it leads into all kinds of despair and despondency. It makes for all manner of difficulties with the people with whom we live, as well as with those we love and work for.
God does not look upon the human race as if it were something unworthy, that is to be beaten down under His feet; He sees it as always possessing high possibilities in spite of centuries of rebellion.
In the old days, conquered races went under. In our times we at once readmit them into the fullest self-government, side by side with ourselves. That is a picture of what God has done with the human race – and it will help to remember this next time we have a dark hour.
The Divine Will is above all a Will to grip us; to hold us by the hand_ and to walk with us through all that comes upon us. His abundant grace is always at hand, but God wants us to co-operate with Him in fighting against sin.
Think what it cost Him to become man in order to have the natural right to act for man, offering to the Father the obedience that mankind could never have offered. We must not complain and whine, therefore, but recognise the unspeakable honour God has done to us. At the same time, we are fully aware that those whom God honours suffer with Him.
The gospel is the story of Jesus living for thirty-three years in perfect detailed obedience, thus fulfilling the desire and will of the Eternal Father. His obedience, in every detail of His life, perfectly covered and obliterated the disobedience of the human race. There at Calvary we have it all before our eyes in symbol. There is the human race typified in Jew and Gentile, all engaged in crucifying Jesus – and there on the cross is the One obedient man.
Think of the acts of any particular class of sinner who annoy you, or of sins that trouble you in your own conscience. You will find in the Life or the Passion of Jesus some particular suffering, some particular offering, some particular obedience that stands out as an offering in reparation for those sins.
It is not fashionable nowadays to dwell upon the debt that Jesus paid for us on the Cross, because it means thinking of His death as satisfying the claim that God had on the human race.
This is unpopular with modern theology. Yet we must thank God for it, for God so made me that I live under a spiritual law that if I sin I die in soul and body. God sent His only begotten Son to take our manhood and to live under that same law. Jesus, who knew no sin, made Himself one with us, and deliberately chose to come under the penalty of our sin so that He might carry our guilt in the sight of God.
In obedience to the law death overtook Him – death of body, and then that darkness of soul that was so nearly death to His soul as He cried out, “My God, My God! Why have You forsaken Me?” We know that in the darkness He paid for us the debt that we could never have paid, and without which we could never have returned to the God who loves us and who desires us.
He looks down on us from His Throne in Heaven. He shows us His wounds, He pierces our hearts with a sense of the sin that made Him die, but we dare not look away, or look down or look inwards. Jesus is loving and looking at us, and looking up at Him darkness has no place and despair is ruled out.
Rather let us lift up our hearts and rejoice with a strong robust spiritual joy, and then move out in glad response, taking His message of joy and new hope. If God is for us who shall be against us? Isn’t that what we need?
And so, fortified with joy and hopefulness we shall go on to meditate on the nature of our sins. We must do it, but only in the spirit of joyful hope.
He who fights against holiness and goodness is really fighting against Jesus. Whenever I sin I am classing myself with Pilate, and am setting myself over and against the Lord Jesus. If I am developing my self-will, and affirming my self-assertion, the Lord Jesus has no room in my life.
Sin is the negation of Jesus, and its logical conclusion is to drive Jesus out. Now I understand why, after spending hours indulging in some mood which Jesus has forbidden me, I constantly find that I cannot pray. Of course I cannot because I have been asserting my own will against the Lord, and He has been driven out.
It is not that He has deserted us. He is waiting in the background, waiting for the slightest stirring on my part to call Him back in. He does not strive, He does not use force.
Is it not true, and don’t we confess it with shame, that many Christian people, even devout workers and devoted disciples, often prove on inspection to keep portions of their lives marked off, within which they will brook no interference from anybody – little spheres into which even Jesus is not invited?
We have relationships in which we serve the Lord faithfully – and then we have relationships which the hand of Jesus never touches nor sanctifies because they are based entirely on self-will.
I know that the moment will come someday – it may be near it may be far off – when I shall see Him face to face. I know that in the moment that I meet Him everything that He in any sense could regard in me as an injury done to Him will live in my memory, and the shame of it will blind my eyes to Him.
I shall not dare to look into His face because the thing cannot be undone. His love for which there are no words adequate, and my love which has been no love at all shall meet. Therefore I must repent.
If I have hurt one of my friends on earth, however much he loves me, he will experience a certain difficulty in getting back to the same relationship with me. It is he who experiences the difficulty, but the fault is all on my side.
I cannot help but show that I am conscious of my sin – and the very fact of having been able to offend Him so grossly shows that there is something in me that must be changed and done away with before I can get back to the original friendship. He trusted and believed in me, and I failed to live up to his standard.
Although He forgives me, I must exercise great patience before I can become worthy of the level of friendship that I previously enjoyed with him before.
In the dark times of temptation, in those wrong moods in which we perhaps give way to half articulated rebellion against the whole thought of religion and devotion, we must remember that Love has forgiven us. But inasmuch as sin is a personal matter, there is something in me that must be purged out before Love and I can meet in true joy and peace.
I have to recognise that I have built up barriers between myself and Jesus that not even His love can break down. The barrier is something within me – it needs enduring patience to get rid of that which hinders Jesus from any real approach to my soul.
Have I the courage for this? Of course I do – and of course I have every reason to hope and to trust in Him. It is the Divine Will to save, redeem and empower us as He transforms us into His likeness.
Because Jesus has made Himself one with us, there is no Divine Will to punish and to curse us. He is on our side. He has paid the debt and has offered the obedience that we could not offer. So beautiful and so glorious has He made Himself in our eyes, that we have withdrawn ourselves from the world to cast ourselves at His feet and to repent of our sins. So tender has His love been for us that the injury our sins has caused has struck home to our hearts.
What can hold us back now from confident hope, and from enduring the consequences of our sins? “We indeed are suffering justly the due reward of our sins,” the thief said on the cross, “but this man has done nothing amiss.” Only for a short while must we live from time to time under this sense of failure, as though God has forsaken us. “Could you not watch with Me one hour?”
May we open our hearts wide in this Retreat to Him whose love is so great, whose pity is so wide, who understands us so entirely, and who will never let us go.
Then, as repentant as we can be, and as heartbroken as He gives us the grace and power to be, let us do Him the honour of trusting Him!