Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“He (God) reveals the deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with Him.”
“The secret of the sweet, satisfying companionship of the Lord have they who fear and worship Him, and He will show them His covenant and reveal to them its deep inner meaning.”
“God is too wise not to know all about us, and what is really best for us to be, and to have. And He is too good, not to desire our highest good; and too powerful, desiring not to effect it. If, then, what He has appointed for us does not seem to us the best, or even to be good, our true course is to remember that He sees further than we do, and that we shall understand Him in time, when His plans have unfolded themselves; meanwhile casting all our care upon Him, since He careth for us.”
Henry Parry Liddon
Today’s Study Text:
“And Elisha prayed, and said, ‘Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see.’ And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw; and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fires.”
II Kings 6:17
The God of Dothan – Part 8
“When You Think You Are on a Fog-Bound Road”
“I endured long periods of privation, towards the end almost continual; but still I had from time to time inflowings of Thy Divinity so deep and intimate, so vivid and so penetrating, that it was easy for me to judge that Thou wast but hidden from me and not lost.
From Bastille Witness
Notes penned in prison
Has a darkness ever settled around me that kept me in such a dark place that I felt I could not see God at work at all?
In what ways has God opened my eyes so that I am able to recognize His guiding hand even when it was “dark” in my own life?
“If I stoop
Into a dark tremendous sea of cloud,
It is but for a time; I press God’s lamp
Close to my breast; its splendor, soon or late,
Will pierce the gloom: I shall emerge one day.”
“Who is among you who reverently fears the Lord, who obeys the voice of His Servant, yet who walks in darkness and deep trouble and has no shining splendor in (her) heart? Let (her) rely on, trust in, and be confident in the name of the Lord, and let (her) lean upon and be supported by (her) God.”
In my lifetime, there’s been more than once when our family lived close to the ocean and we became well acquainted with what it was to experience deep, thick fog. However, the most disconcerting experience I’ve had with fog was trying to commute in foggy weather on a business trip Jim and I took. We were visiting clients that had their headquarters in the agricultural towns that line U.S. Highway Route 99 which runs from north to south down through the state of California. Many times, news reports have carried tragic stories regarding fatal accidents that have occurred repeatedly on this section of highway. I’ll never forget how frightening it became as we crept along, trying to make out the images around us. Every once in a while, a truck would go by at a rapid speed and I recall Jim would shake his head in utter dismay, fearing that some rapid moving vehicle would ram our car from behind or side swipe us as the driver tried to avoid a wreck. Simply put, it was scary.
If we take this real-life experience and apply it to the spiritual realm we encounter in our lives each day, I think, as the quote above from Madame Guyon states, that we at times find ourselves blanketed by fog which creates a darkness that leaves us confused as we search for God’s guidance. This is exactly how I think Elisha’s young servant felt. He knew what he saw – the Syrian army wasn’t make-believe. Those were real horses and real chariots. What’s more, the host of soldiers were real humans. This wasn’t some fake, staged Hollywood scene. From what this young man witnessed, disaster wasn’t far away.
But here’s where the story gets interesting, especially from our human standpoint. I learned a lot about looking at this story through what author Helen Roseveare calls “Cat’s Eyes,” in her book, Living Faith.
Just to familiarize myself with some of the unique qualities that cats have, especially relating to their senses, I did some research pertaining, in particular, to their eyesight. Like dogs, cats have a reflective layer behind their retina called the “tapetum lucidum,” which helps improve their ability to see in darkness. This is vital for cats, from the size of precious little kittens to the “King of the jungle” – the lion. However, this isn’t the only unique feature a cat has in their eye. As you are most likely well-aware cats have a slit-like iris which closes very narrowly in bright light so that it doesn’t hurt their sensitive retina. This unusual shape of the iris significantly improves the depth of field as cats prowl around in the day or night.
Here’s how Helen Roseveare talks about cat’s eye vision as she carefully examines the challenges you and I face at times in our lives that she identifies as, “longer stretches of fog-bound road.” Referring to the way we try to move forward spiritually throughout our lives she observes that “the courage needed to obey, to step out in faith, never changes.” And then she points out that often, as we scan the totality of our lives, we may even find that in the earlier years of our walk of faith, when as she notes “the sunshine frequently breaks through with exhilarating, encouragement,” that later on, as we move forward, we may well find ourselves called “to return to a place or circumstance of known danger or harassment that may require even greater courage than when the danger was unknown and the harassment inexperienced.”
When I read these thoughts, so beautifully expressed in the light of Elisha’s life, it became clear that over time, as Elisha’s faith was stretched by God, that his trust in Divine intervention became a natural part of his everyday life. Thus, when his life itself was put in danger, while his aide was filled with terror, Elisha’s only request at such a time was that God would sensitize this young man by opening his eyes to give him the opportunity to witness what Elisha had. As Helen Roseveare further explains, “To go back (where God wants us) in the face of increasing opposition; can make it harder and harder to be sure of guidance and the Lord’s clear direction. Yet throughout, cat’s eyes do appear, and courage is given to take the next step, and faith holds on to believe for further cat’s eyes…by faithful obedience, one can move off confidently.” Even when you feel you are only creeping slowly along on a fog-bound road. Just at the right moment in time, your heavenly “cat’s eyes,” which have been gifted to you by your Father to help you see in the darkness will make you aware of the path of safety laid out before you, even when it is totally foggy all around.
There is a saying in Latin – post tenebras lux – which translated into English means “after darkness light.” I believe this phrase is most tenderly explained by the words penned by Pastor Charles Haddon Spurgeon: “O thou poor, distressed soul, who once lived in the sunshine of God’s face, but art now in darkness, remember that He has not really forsaken thee. God in the clouds is as much our God as when He shines forth in all the luster of His grace…our longest sorrows have an ending, and there is a bottom to the profoundest depths of our misery. Our winters shall not frown forever, summer shall soon smile. The tide shall not eternally ebb out; the floods must retrace their march. The night shall not hand its darkness forever over our souls; the sun shall yet arise with healing beneath its wings.”
“The eyes of the young man were opened and he saw. A wonder! The whole mountainside full of horses and chariots of fire.” Praise God! Hallelujah! Amen!
“You can’t appreciate the miracle of the sunrise unless you’ve waited in the darkness.”
“Lord, it belongs not to my care
Whether I die or live;
To love and serve Thee is my share,
And this Thy grace must give.
If life be long I will be glad,
That I may long obey;
If short-yet why should I be sad
To soar to endless day?
Christ leads me through no darker room
Than He went through before;
He that unto God’s kingdom comes,
Must enter by this door.
Come, Lord, when grace has made me meet
Thy blessed face to see;
Or if Thy work on earth be sweet,
What will Thy glory be!
Then shall I end my sad complaints,
And weary, sinful days;
And join with the triumphant saints,
To sing Jehovah’s praise.
My knowledge of that life is small,
The eye of faith is dim;
But ‘tis enough the Christ knows all,
And I shall be with Him.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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