Living off of love
The one leads to rest and peace; the other to constant excitement and agitation, work and unrest.
“When the soul surrenders itself to Christ, a new power takes possession of the new heart. A change is wrought which man can never accomplish for himself. It is a supernatural work, bringing a supernatural element into human nature. The soul that is yielded to Christ becomes His own fortress, which He holds in a revolted world, and He intends that no authority shall be known in it but His own. A soul thus kept in possession by the heavenly agencies is impregnable to the assaults of Satan….We must inevitably be under the control of the one or the other of the two great powers that are contending for the supremacy of the world….The only defense against evil is the indwelling of Christ in the heart through faith in His righteousness.” The Desire of Ages, 324.
I’ve heard it lamented that we can talk all day but we can’t pray for even 5 minutes. But why is this? I wonder if it is because when we talk with our fellow humans we have a two-way conversation and we all love to have that; but prayer is usually a short lived one-way soliloquy. We can converse with each other all day long with great ease and enjoyment, but to many, prayer is speaking into the air. And how cool is that? No wonder multitudes pray and study the scriptures so little, and have so little faith.
Although never having met Martin Luther, I feel certain that he could spend 4 hours at the beginning of each day praying as he did, because prayer with him wasn’t a one-way conversation. Unlike the typical Pharisee, Luther didn’t pray with himself. (Lk. 18:11). There was a two-way thing going on in Martin Luther’s closet between him and the Spirit of God. Far behind him were his one-way conversation days—a long, afflicting torture.
And while I never met H.M.S. Richards, Sr., I feel confident that the reason he could spend 4 hours each day studying the Bible is because there was a back and forth going on in his private study between his soul and the Holy Spirit, a two-way conversation facilitated by the Word. There in the quiet of his soul, he was free to ask the Lord his most embarrassing, childlike questions, or peruse a vast library of truth found in those intricate and complex sacred pages. There he could dare to tread new, untried thoughts and ideas about the Savior he loved.
It’s like what a woman said in Sabbath School last Sabbath, “The important thing about the Word is, that you must feed on it.” While she couldn’t seem to elaborate, she saw something there, and what a jam-packed statement it was. The breast-feeding infant doesn’t just take from the mother, it gives back more than it is aware of. And out of that back and forth arrangement, that giving and taking of love, a bond is created for life that no amount of abuse in life can destroy. How it must thrill God to have that heart to heart, mind to mind exchange of intimacy with His children of Earth.
It was that very emotional interaction which Solomon had with the Son of God that enabled him to be a fortress for righteousness. “My Beloved is mine, and I am His.” (Song of Solomon 2:16).
This same experience the antedeluvian patriarchs had. “Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.” “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.... Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.” (Gen. 5:24; 6:8,9).
This love Abraham had with the Lord Jesus. “But thou, Israel, art My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham My friend.” (Is. 41:8). “And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.”(Jas. 2:23).
Moses knew that same heart to heart communion. “And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend.” (Ex. 33:11).
Zechariah knew it by experience and prophesied concerning it. “And one shall say unto Him, What are these wounds in Thine hands? Then He shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of My friends.” (Zech. 13:6).
Jeremiah tasted of it and rejoiced. “Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O Lord God of hosts.” (Jer. 15:16).
The apostles saw Christ’s offer of a close friendship and they gladly ate it up! “And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber fast, while the Bridegroom is with them? as long as they have the Bridegroom with them, they cannot fast.” (Mk. 2:19). And they proclaimed it everywhere they went.
“He was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner.” (Lk. 19:7). “The Son of man is come eating and drinking;… a friend of publicans and sinners!” (Lk. 7:34).
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a Man lay down His life for His friends.” (Jn. 15: 13).
“Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his Lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of My Father I have made known unto you.” (Jn. 15: 15).
“For I tell you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.” (Lk. 10: 24). It was the Spirit that brought that deep heart communion and put tongues of fire on each head of the early church.
It is compared to the love between Solomon and his Shulamite wife. “His mouth is most sweet: yea, He is altogether lovely. This is My beloved, and this is My Friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.” (Song 5:16).
“I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, until he please. Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved? I raised thee up under the apple tree: there thy mother brought thee forth: there she brought thee forth that bare thee. Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned.” (Song 8:1-7).
And we can have that same communion as all the holy men of old; a communion which I hear is so sweet that it causes “the lips of those that are asleep to speak.” (Song 7:9). And when the seal of God is put in the foreheads of His people, they only will receive it who found in Him the most faithful Friend and the most gracious God. (Matt. 7:23;Rev. 7:2;9:4;14:1;22:4)
I will sing, I will sing, of Jesus’ love;
Sing of Him, sing of Him, who first loved me.