The greatest lesson the soul has to learn is the fact
that God, and God alone, is enough for all its needs. This is the
lesson that all His dealings with us are meant to teach; and this is
the crowning discovery of our whole Christian life. God is enough!
If God is what He would seem to be from our study of Him;
if He is our Shepherd; if He is really and truly our Father; if, in
short, all the many aspects of His character and His ways as laid out
in Scripture are actually true, then we must, it seems to me, come to
the positive conviction that He is, in Himself alone, enough for all
our possible needs, and that we may safely rest in Him absolutely and
But Christ has not been all we want. We have wanted a great many things besides Him.
We have wanted fervent feelings about Him, or
realizations of His presence with us, or an interior revelation of His
love; or else we have demanded satisfactory schemes of doctrine, or
successful Christian work, or something of one sort or another, besides
Himself, that will constitute a personal claim upon Him. Just Christ
Himself, Christ alone, without the addition of any of our experiences
concerning Him, has not been enough for us, and we do not even see how
it is possible that He could be enough.
The psalmist said: “My soul, wait thou only upon God; for
my expectation is from Him” (Ps. 62:5, KJV). But now the Christian
says, “My soul, wait thou upon my sound doctrines, for my expectation
is from them”; or, “My soul, wait thou upon my good disposition and
feelings, or upon my righteous works, or upon my fervent prayers, or
upon my earnest striving, for my expectation is from these.”
To wait upon God only seems one of the unsafest things we
can do, and to have our expectation from Him alone is like building on
the sand. We reach out on every side for something to depend on, and
not until everything else fails will we put our trust in God alone.
George Macdonald says: “We look upon God as our last and
feeblest resource. We only go to Him when we have nowhere else to go.
And then we learn that the storms of life have driven us, not upon the
rocks, but into the desired haven.”
No soul can be really at rest until it has given up all
dependence on everything else and has been forced to depend on the Lord
alone. As long as our expectation is from other things, nothing but
disappointment awaits us.
Feelings may change, and will change with our changing
circumstances; doctrines and dogmas may be upset; Christian work may
come to nought; prayers may seem to lose their fervency; promises may
seem to fail; everything that we have believed in or depended upon may
seem to be swept away, and only God is left, simply and only God.
We say sometimes, “If I could only find a promise to fit
my case, I could then be at rest.” But promises may be misunderstood or
misapplied, and, at the moment when we are leaning all our weight upon
them, they may seem utterly to fail us. But the Promiser, who is behind
His promises, can never fail nor change.
The little child does not need to have any promises from
its mother to make it content; it has its mother herself, and she is
enough. Its mother is better than a thousand promises.
In our highest ideal of love or friendship, promises do
not enter. One party may love to make promises, just as our Lord does,
but the other party does not need them; the personality of lover or
friend is better than all their promises. And should every promise be
wiped out of the Bible, we would still have God left, and God would be
Only God, He Himself, just as He is, without the addition
of anything on our part, whether it be disposition or feelings, or
experiences, or good works, or sound doctrines, or any other thing
either outward or inward. “[God] only is my rock and my salvation; he
is my defence; I shall not be greatly moved” (Ps. 62:2).
I do not mean by this that we are not to have feelings,
or experiences, or revelations, or good works, or sound doctrines. We
may have all of these, but they must be the result of salvation and
never the procuring cause; and they can never be depended upon as being
any indication of our spiritual condition. They are all things that
come and go, and are dependent often upon the state of our health or
the condition of our surroundings.