The Garden of God
Beauty For Ashes Part 5 - George H. Warnock
CHAPTER 9 - IN PURSUIT OF ONE THING
"One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in his temple" (Psa. 27:4).
This was the total focus of his desire. He wanted to dwell in Gods house, but his purpose was not to see the beauty of the house, but "to behold the beauty of the LORD"... and then in seeing Him, to "inquire" of Him.
"But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her" (Lk. 10:42).
Is your heart fixed? Are you really confident you are looking for "one thing"? Our Lord gives us many good and precious gifts and blessings. And we thank Him for all of that. But what are we really looking for? God forbid that we should be searching for any treasure, any blessing, other than the blessing of clear eyes to see Him, hearing ears to hear Him, and a good heart to bring forth good fruit. "Lord may our eyes be transfixed at the sight of Thy glory; because we know that this, and this alone, will bring about that transformation of heart and mind that we long for."
Ive tried the broken cisterns, Lord;
But Oh, the waters failed;
Een as I stooped to drink they fled,
And mocked me as I wailed...
Now none but Christ can satisfy...
Is He not enough? Let us not go looking for more blessing, or more of His gifts, but for more of Him. We thank Him for His gifts, but let us keep seeking the Giver, the One who is the Fountain-head of every good and perfect gift. Let us not go about seeking more power... except that enduement of power that will invade our being with the character and beauty of the Lord Jesus Himself.
Unlimited Power in the Depths of His Love
"According as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him..." (2 Pet. 1:3). What kind of power does the Lord want us to be looking for? The quality of power that gives us everything we need to come to "life and godliness". Why need we pursue other aspects of power? Other realms of power? Power to do wonderful things for God? Power so great that others will recognize how great we are? It is in these realms of power that God wants to weaken us; because these areas of power are fertile soil for pride and haughtiness. And so in this passage the apostle Peter is encouraging us to pursue Gods "divine power" that ministers all we need for "life and godliness":
"Giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance (self restraint); and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity" (2 Pet. 1:5-7).
If we find grace to come to this stature, the apostle tells us, we "shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ" (vs. 8). We will become that "good tree" that Jesus talked about, "the good tree" that brings forth "good fruit". On the other hand, no matter how great and powerful a man might become in gift and ministry... "he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins" (vs. 9). Let us ponder this well: if we lack these ingredients of grace--we are blind, and lacking in spiritual vision, and have lost sight of Gods purpose of redemption, in purging us from the old ways of our former life.
People keep saying, "Dont you know... there is a world out there in great need, and weve got to do the best we can to help them..." But dont they know there is only one way to do this, and that is to flow in the rivers of perfect love? Only then are we going to make a vital impact on a world that hates God. And so Paul prayed for the Church at Ephesus that they would be "strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God" (Eph. 3:16-19).
When Gods people come into these immeasurable depths and heights of Gods love there is no limit to the mighty workings of God in them. And so he adds, right in the same context: "Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us..." (vs. 20). This kind of power cannot lead to pride and haughtiness, because it is power that works "by his Spirit in the inner man". This kind of power flows from the love of God. Here is a dimension of LOVE that is builded into His people by the workings of His grace. It is not a transient "love" that ebbs and flows with the tide. It is a quality of "love" that becomes a vital part of those who "grow up into Him in all things" (vs. 15). This kind of love--or should I say, this quality and dimension of love, is the fruit of Gods love that grows from the Tree of Life into which we are grafted, and not just the "blessing" of love that we experience in times of special devotion. Those who come to "perfect love" are those who come into abiding union with the Lord Jesus, and therefore they live and move in the humility and grace of Jesus. It is the same love that was in Jesus, and is now in them, even as He prayed: "...that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them" (Jn. 17:26).
I know I speak of a very "high calling", But the word really means an "upward calling". We may look at how high it is and say... "it is too high for me". But if we know it is an "upward way"... then we simply follow our Lord one step at a time.., and He will lead us there. Gods desire is to bring us to the reservoir of the unsearchable riches of Christ, In that realm of the love of God there is power to do "exceeding and abundantly above all that we ask or think".
I know sometimes we feel we are getting a little far-out; and I think the apostle Paul must have felt that way as He wrote about these things. For indeed it is far, far out in the oceans of His love, But He would take us there, if we will remain "rooted and grounded in love" and move forward into this mighty ocean of God. Let us hear it again: "that ye may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God" (vs. 18, 19).
Distractions Along the Way
"And Elijah said unto Elisha, Tarry here, I pray thee; for the LORD hath sent me to Bethel" (2 Kgs. 2:2)
I am not saying that Elijah was trying to distract Elisha from his vision. I am sure the Lord prompted him to say this to his servant Elisha, not that he would distract the one who was to take up his mantle, but to test him in this matter of obedience and commitment. We must remember this. There are many things that God causes to happen in our lives that we question, and wonder about. But God is simply trying our faith and proving our confidence in Him. God is searching out a people for Himself who only have one thing they are pursuing. A people who keep looking unto Jesus, that they might grow in grace, and come into the full measure of "the stature of Christ".
Elisha had been chosen to take Elijahs place when Elijah would be taken away. Elisha knew that... and he would not be turned aside from his vision... not even by a word from the man of God. Here was a word from the prophet... but it was more of a request than a command. "Tarry here, I pray thee". But Elishas heart was fixed: "I will not leave thee". And the two men continued to walk together. The same test was repeated again and again; and each time Elishas answer was the same: "I will not leave thee". As the time drew near when Elijah was to be taken up, he turned to the young prophet and asked, "What shall I do for thee before I be taken away?" Elishas answer was ready:
"Let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me". His heart was fixed. The prophet answered, "Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so" (2 Kgs. 2:10).
I believe the test is that simple for every one of us. But our hearts must be fixed... otherwise the tests that come might cause our hearts to waver. We must be assured in our hearts as to what we are really looking for. If we have settled on this, then no matter what comes... our hearts are fixed. We must desire the Lord so much that no glittering thing in our pathway will divert our attention away from Him. For if our hearts are not truly "fixed" it might be very easy to settle for something that is good, but not the best.
So what happened? As they walked along talking with each other there appeared a chariot of fire, that came blazing at them from Heaven and went right between them, pushing the two men apart. "and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven". Elisha felt the wind, and saw the chariot, and he cried out, "My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof" (2 Kgs. 2:11, 12), But in the presence of this great phenomena he didnt take his eyes off Elijah. He didnt look to the right hand nor to the left to see where the chariot was going. He could have gazed and gazed at it in wonderment... and had he done so he would have missed the ascension of Elijah. Elijah did not step into the chariot, but he was caught up "by a whirlwind into heaven". Elisha saw it happen, and picked up the mantle that fell from his masters shoulders. His heart was fixed, and he received the double portion.
I dont think any of us can boast about how well our hearts are fixed on the Lord Jesus. I am confident we are going to see miracles like this today... and even greater. And I wonder how many will turn their eyes away from the face of Jesus, to admire the miracles. Only one thing will keep us from doing that: Our delight in the Lord must become so great that not even a chariot of fire will be able to divert our attention away from the glory of His countenance.
Why then did God send the chariot of fire? God does not tell us why. God might have sent it to thrust the two men apart by way of testing the steadfastness of Elishas heart. For God will not hesitate to test our hearts with great and miraculous phenomena, to reveal the state of our hearts, whether our delight is totally fixed on Him. What do we desire the most? To see a display of His mighty works? Or to see the glorious shining forth of His face?
"Lord purge our hearts from every evil desire, and from every good desire, that might cause us to fall short of "the more excellent way."
The Desire of the Humble
God knows the desires of our hearts. And as we are seeking to walk in His ways, and to walk in humbleness of heart and mind, He will prepare our hearts, and bring us to steadfastness of vision. David said, "LORD, thou hast heard the desire of the humble: thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear" (Psa. 10:17). But even as we seek to walk in His ways, we must learn through many strange experiences that Gods thoughts are not our thoughts, neither are our ways, Gods ways (Isa. 55:8).
Knowing that it is Gods will that we prosper in His ways, we look for it--and like His servant Joseph we find ourselves prospering... but in a prison house that we did not choose. And yet we are free. For who is more free, or prosperous, than one who is a bond-slave of the Lord? (Gen. 39:3; 1 Cor. 7:22; Eph. 4:1).
Knowing that He would make us to be co-heirs with Him in His everlasting Kingdom, we ask to know the way, and He makes us to be the least of all, and the servants of all. For He who is King of all kings became a bond-slave, that He might show us the way to the throne. (Matt. 23:11; Phil. 2:7-9).
We ask Him to make us loving and kind and patient with others--and He brings across our pathway those who are embittered with life, unloving and uncaring, that the springs of love and charity might be able to flow forth in healing streams. For charity suffereth long, and is kind... charity never faileth... (1 Cor. 13:4-8).
We ask that we might bear abundant fruit for the Kingdom of God, and He lays us low in the dust; for He knows that except the corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone, but if it die it bringeth forth much fruit. (Jn. 12:24).
We ask for true peace and rest... and He sends us into a world where all is turmoil and confusion, that we might know His peace in the midst of the storm. And He bids us to take His yoke upon us, that as we labour with Him we might know His rest. (Jn. 16:33; Matt. 11:29).
We ask for a forgiving spirit, and we find even our loved ones may turn against us, that the forgiving virtue we desire might be nurtured and released. And in the flow of forgiveness we ourselves are inwardly healed and liberated, even before they have felt the pain of their wrong, or the joy of forgiveness.
We ask for a lowly and humble heart--so He leads us into valleys of great weakness and disappointment, that the lowliness of the Lamb might subdue the proud and haughty lion within, and beautify the meek with His own nature.
We ask that we might hear His voice more clearly in a world filled with so many confusing sounds--and He leads us into a wilderness, and feeds us with manna from heaven, that we might hear His voice, and know that man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord. (Deut. 8:2, 3).
We ask for His abiding presence... for a closer walk with Him... and He sends trouble. He causes His billows to overwhelm us, so that He might draw us closer, still closer to Himself; that in the billows of God we might discover the depths of His love and truth and faithfulness. "Deep calleth unto deep" as we are overwhelmed in the cataracts of distress, and we cry unto Him who is looking for an abiding place in the broken and the contrite heart. (Psa. 42:7; Isa. 57:15).
We ask for enlargement in God, and He confines us and restricts us and closes us in on every side. And sometimes we ourselves may wonder if others are right when they judge we are wasting our time, and wasting our efforts, and accomplishing nothing of profit to God or to man. (Isa. 49:4).
For He knows that it is only as we are restricted in our ways, and confined to His will, and reduced to God, that we will know the enlargements and the depths that are in Him, and an open door into the Heavens...
For those who draw nigh to God in priestly service can find no pleasure in anything this life has to offer, nor even in the gifts He has given them. Their true delight is only in Him, and in doing what He shows them to do. Therefore the Lord reminds His priestly people, "Thou shalt have no inheritance in their land... I am thine inheritance". Those who are looking for the City where the Lamb is the Light, can never be satisfied with any other inheritance. (Num. 18:20; Phil. 3:8).
And so if we truly desire to be clothed upon with these virtues of Christ, no matter how feebly we may have tried to frame our desires into an effectual prayer, if the desire is there for Him and for Him alone, to know Him, to walk with Him, and to abide in Him... He sees that desire, He hears that desire as though it were a fervent prayer from the heart and lips, And He will be faithful to prepare our hearts and lead us in the right way, strange though it may seem to be in our own eyes, or in the eyes of those who do not understand the ways of the Lord.
"LORD, thou hast heard the desire of the humble: thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear" (Psa. 10:17). &
-- George H. Warnock --
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