Rod And Staff In Time Of Need
By J. R. Miller
Spiritual truths can be received only as we come to experiences for which they are adapted. There are many of the divine promises which we can never claim, and whose blessedness we cannot realize until we come to the points in life for which they are specially given.
For example: “In the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion” (Isa. 27:5). This word can mean nothing to the child playing with his toys, or to the young man or woman walking in sunny paths, without a care or a trial. It can be understood only by one who is in trouble.
Or take this word: “My grace is sufficient for thee” (2 Cor. 12:9). It was given first in place of an answer to a prayer for the removal of an unrelenting trial. It meant divine strength to offset human weakness, and it cannot be received until there is a sense of need.
Christ stands beside a happy young Christian and says: “I have a precious word to give you, one that shines with the beauty of divine love; but you cannot bear it yet.” The disciple moves on along life’s sunny path, and by and by comes into the shadows of sorrow or trouble. Again Jesus stands beside him and says: “Now I can give you the word I withheld before: ‘My grace is sufficient for thee.’” Then the promise glows with light and love.
There is a very large part of the Bible which can be received by us only when we come into the places for which the words were given. There axe promises for weakness which we can never get while we are strong. There are words for times of danger which we can never know while we need no protection. There are consolations for sickness, whose comfort we can never get while we are in robust health. There are promises for times of loneliness when men walk in solitary ways, which never can come with real meaning to us while loving companions are by our side. There are words for old age which we never can appropriate for ourselves along the years of youth, when the arm is strong, the blood warm, and the heart brave.
God Shows Us the Stars at Night
God cannot show us the stars while the sun shines in the heavens; and He cannot make known to us the precious things of love that He has prepared for our nights while it is yet day about us. Christ says to us then, “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now” (John 16:12). We could not understand them.
But by and by, when we come into places of need, of sorrow, of weakness, of human failure, or loneliness, of sickness, of old age -- then He will tell us these other things, and they will be full of joy for our hearts. When night comes, He will show us the stars.
Older Christians understand this. There are many things in the Bible which had little meaning for them in life’s earlier days, but which one by one have shone bright and beautiful along the years, as stars come out in the evening sky when the sun fades from the heavens.
Even in childhood the words were said over and over, but they were repeated thoughtlessly, because there had been no experience to prepare the heart to receive them. Then one day there crept a shadow over the life, and in the shadow the long familiar words began for the first time to have a meaning. Other experiences of care, trial and loss followed, and the precious words became more and more real. Now, in old age, as the sacred texts are repeated, they are the very rod and staff to the trembling, trusting spirit.
Thus as life goes on, the meaning of Christ’s words comes out clearer and clearer, until the child’s heedless repetition of them becomes the utterance of the faithful and trust of the strong man’s very soul.
Benefit of Memorizing Scripture in Childhood
There may seem to be no use in putting into a child’s memory words it cannot understand. They make no impression at present. They give out no light. But they are fixed in the life, and some day there will come sorrow. It will grow dark. Then from these words will flash out the sweet light of divine love, pouring the soft radiance of heavenly comfort upon the night of grief.
– From The Building Of Character.