Alone With God
Over and over, deeper and deeper, do we have to learn the meaning of God’s words, until the faint perceptions we first had of them seem as dewdrops compared with the fathomless ocean we find in them at the last.
“And he was left alone, and there wrestled a man with him until the break of day.”
All elect souls pass many times this station of aloneness with God, and they find that the wrestling always lasts till the breaking of the day.
We have to be alone with God in finding personal salvation. Others may be used as instruments in bringing conviction, light, help in various ways; but there comes a crisis, both in the work of regeneration and of sanctification, in which the soul must be detached from others, and deal only with God. How utterly impertinent are human words in such a crisis! We must meet our Jesus singly; we must apprehend Him for ourselves; He must speak to us with His own voice. In such an hour we gaze on the salvation promises, such as, “Thy sins will be forgiven thee,” or “I will, be thou clean”; but the words on paper need to be imparted into our consciousness, and to effect this, they must be respoken into us by the Holy Ghost. No true soul will be satisfied with an inference of salvation, or a dead legal imputation of holiness, or the opinions of others as to our state; nothing less than God alone pouring His assurance into our spirits will answer.
The dear Redeemer who loved us from eternity, and “formed us for Himself,” will not leave the pining soul to the second-hand tinkering of others; He will closet us with Himself, and re-speak unto us those living words out of His book that have been spoken to seeking souls in every generation of the world. God longs to give each of us a perfect personal assurance of His perfect salvation.
We must be alone with God in the matter of suffering. The One who loves us best fits the furnace to our frame, and never once duplicates the pattern for any other soul.
There are innumerable degrees of suffering among God’s chosen ones, yet in each case it is unique and personal. The ingredients of suffering are of infinite variety in kind and mixture, but the end to be accomplished is the same. God will not allow us to pick our crosses, or to exchange them with our neighbor. Oftentimes our chief cross is born with us into the world, and stays with us through all vicissitudes of life, and all the operations of grace, till we have washed it thousands of times with our tears, till at last, conquered and mellowed and sweetened into utter tenderness of spirit, we smile upon the rough old instrument, and praise God for all its painfulness to us.
Some forms of suffering have the community feature in them, and can be shared by others; but our very choicest sufferings, those that accomplish God’s individual purpose in us, those that most thoroughly test us and unite us to His will, these are private property, into which no other ever enters but our sympathizing Jesus. “I will lead the blind in a way they have not known.” The Lord selects for each of us those crucifixions which will most perfectly mortify us, and reduce us to our lone nothingness.
In the earlier stages of deep interior suffering we foolishly fly to some chosen creatures for sympathy and help but in taking our soul sorrows to earthly friends, we are apt to find one of three results: either God permits them to be cold and uninterested in us, or we find them loaded with woes of their own, or else they do us more harm than good by superficial, or fanatical, or unheavenly words.
Our sufferings should lead to four things—to detach us from creature-comforts by driving us to bury our souls deep in the bosom of God; next, to take Jesus in as a partner of our pains, that “in all our afflictions He was afflicted”; next, to recognize the presence of God in every step of our trials; and fourth, that we should be so thoroughly softened by our sufferings as to have an unlimited tenderness for all other sufferers of every kind. The very best and most fruitful of our mortifications are those in which God locks us in alone with Himself, and thereby saturates us with the Holy Spirit. In matters of divine guidance and spiritual understanding God often hems us in alone with Himself, and deals with us and reveals His will to us in ways and things that our friends can have no comprehension of. When we are not in communion with God, He will lead us by secondary agents; but the closer we enter into union with Him, the more directly and exclusively He guides by His Spirit.
If we walk in constant fellowship with the Spirit, we will have illuminations into providence and duty for ourselves personally, which our best friends may not always see. “He knoweth the way that I take, and when I am tried I shall come forth as gold.” God always has some child passing through the experience of these words. How little other people understand of the real inner life we are living! Those who think they know us so well, and can give us volumes of advice, often knew us very little. The best of saints misunderstand our faults, just as the ungodly misunderstand our graces.
God will find a thousand ways to detach us from creatures and to wed us to Himself alone, for He is determined that no one else shall be our God. No human being on Earth, even the best of saints, can be any real benefit to me in love or comfort or counsel, except as he is the channel of God to me: whatever others may give me out of their own human nature will soon prove poison to my real well being.
There is not one atom of balm in the universe except from Jesus. When God truly leads along any given path, the outcome will evidence it to be of Him however queer or wrong it may seem to many who are wise and prudent.
“Ill that He blesses is most good,
And unblest good is ill;
And all is right that seems most wrong,
If it be His sweet will.”