King's Business - 1949-09

By Vance Havner

sought to stir up a holier ecstasy but I was tired and the ex­ alted frame of mind just wouldn’t come. I used to make a model of Jacob at Jabbok before I learned that Jacob was not blessed till he stopped struggling and started clinging. How slow we are to learn that a lot of our “ seeking” is a form of works, glorified flesh-effort, and if we did get through to some strange experience we would ever thereafter be congratu­ lating ourselves for our persistence. There are indeed times when long hours of prayer are in order. But it is not that God must be coaxed into granting our requests. He is not slow but we are stubborn: He is not reluctant but we are rebellious. And it takes time to get still. Then there are seasons of communion as when our Lord prayed all night. But the parables of the importunate widow and the man seeking bread at midnight have been made to teach the opposite of what our Lord had in mind. The lesson is in the contrast, not the similarity. If a wicked judge would finally give in to a poor widow, will not our Father hear His own children? It took me a long time to learn that the greatest experience is to learn that God is greater than all our experiences. I had sought Him for what He could give but not for Himself. Job had to be stripped of all his things, reduced to God alone. But when he really met God, he got back more than he lost. I had rejoiced in God’s gifts, had thanked Him for them, but the question came, Did I love God for Himself? If my health, my work, my loved one were taken, would I rejoice in the Lord and still joy in the God of salvation? I was just a fussy little Christian making a Santa Claus out of my Heavenly Father. Satan asked, “ Doth Job fear God for nought?” I won­ dered whether I did. Was I a Christian just because it “paid” ? Could I really sing “Now Thee alone I seek, Give what is best” ? Did I love God for His gifts or was He himself my “ex­ ceeding great reward” ? How I rejoiced in my calls, my work, my preaching! But suppose these failed, would my springs be dried up? And did I really love Jesus or did I just hate the deeds and doctrines of the Nicolaitanes? (Sometimes we hate the Nicolaitanes!) Blessed is the man who gets beyond all God does for him to rejoice in what God is and to love God for Himself. Then T H E K I N G ' S B U S I N E S S

“Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields 8hall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation” (Hab. 3:17, 18). H ABAKKIIK._ha44earned a lesson few of us ever master; TieTiad reached a point where not many mortals ever ar­ rive: he had learned to find his joy in God instead of in cir­ cumstances. That is a trite enough phrase and we roll it un­ der our tongues, but getting through to it in actual experi­ ence is something else again. A lot of breath has been spent and ink used up trying to explain the meaning of the book of Job. Whatever else it teaches, it shows us another man like Habakkuk who started out wanting explanation and ended with revelation — and when he really met God he did not need explanation for “Why?” was swallowed up in “ Whom.” We begin the book with a man blessed with many things from God: we finish with Job blessed in God Hifiiself. We are reminded of Jacob who first named the place of his blessing the House of God but came back later to call it the God of the House of God. God had become more important than any place or experience. And of course we think of Peter who wanted to house his vision in three tabernacles but later looked up to see “ Jesus only.” *, For many years of my life I was much occupied with places and experiences. I set up a stone to mark the spot where I made my profession of faith in Christ. Of course there is nothing wrong in Jacob setting up his pillow as a pillar but sacred spots easily become shrines regarded with too much veneration. Symbols become sinful as, even the brazen serpent became an idol. I was always trying at some place or time to secure an experience that would make me feel just right, an­ swer all my questions and allay all my fears. I remember how once I left my church and took a train for a little town deep in the mountains. I spent an afternoon praying in a deserted schoolhouse but didn’t find my “ experience” and came back rather crestfallen. Again I went to my old home in the hills and in my hide-out in the woods sought to reach the mood I craved. Later in Florida one winter I took long walks and Page Eight

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