Go Up, Leaning on Jesus

Every now and then, when feeling overwhelmed or fighting through writers block, I’ll turn to old books, and page through for inspiration. Sometimes I find gems that spark the writing fire. Other times I wander upon whole treasures that just need shared. Here’s one of the latter.

The following is a letter from Pastor Robert Murray McCheyne to a young man simply identified as “a soul seeking Jesus.” I found this letter to be such a great reminder, not just for those seeking Christ, but for those who know Him but often wander from Him. Cling to Christ, lean wholly upon HIm. Own the fact that you are a sinner, and that Christ saves sinners. This is where we find Christ, strong and mighty to save…

But let me have you read McCheyne – and may you be strengthened and encouraged in your walk with Christ.

Dear Friend, I have heard of you, and have been praying for you, that your eye may rest on Jesus, and that your soul may lie in perfect peace under his blood shed for the sins of many. I have been thanking my Father, too, for dealing so bountifully with you. “He is the Father of mercies, and the God of all comforts.” 

I will give you a sweet verse to meditate upon: “Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness, leaning upon the beloved?”—Song 8:5. 

Do you think this is your position? Truly this world is a wilderness if you have seen it rightly. It is a place of guilt and shame. Every natural heart is a wilderness—a dead place without a drop of living water; and then all natural hearts put together make up a wilderness world. The whole world lies in wickedness. There are few that know and love Jesus, and these few are panting to get more of the living water. But if you have truly fled to Jesus, you are coming up from the wilderness. Now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. “The night is far spent, the day is at hand.” 

Have you found Jesus truly? Do you feel willing to be all vile, all hell-deserving in yourself, and to let God’s dear Son be all your shield and righteousness? Oh! make sure of this. 

Never mind what man thinks of you. I would not give a straw for the opinions of men, as to whether I was safe or no. It is not what man thinks of us that will cover us on the judgment-day. 

Oh no! You must be in Jesus, sitting at his feet, allowing Him to wash your stains away, allowing Him to enwrap your guilty soul in divine righteousness. If you were lying at the bottom of the sea, no eye could see your deformities: so when the infinite ocean of Immanuel’s righteousness flows-over the soul, you are swallowed up as it were in Christ. Your blackness is never seen, only his fairness; and thus a God of truth can say, “Behold thou art fair; behold thou art fair, my love. Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee.”—Song 4:1–7. 

Keep this always in memory; and when guilt comes on the conscience, as it will, lie down again beneath the righteousness of Jesus. Never lose sight of this. Jesus must be seen by the Father instead of our guilty soul. It is no change in our black soul that is to be our covering. You must leave self, and stand in your Elder Brother. Hide behind Him. Let the Father’s eye fall on Him, not on you. This is what Jesus wants. He died to be a shelter for such as you. This is what the Father wants; for He is not willing that any should perish. If you are seen by the Father a naked, guilty sinner, you must die; there is no help for it. But if Jesus appear for you—if you hide in his wounds like the dove in the cliffs of the rock, and under his snowy raiment—then the Father himself loveth you, and now you are coming up from the wilderness. 

Every hour that strikes, that is an hour less between you and glory. Oh! do not grieve to part with the world if you are in Christ: an hour with Christ will make up for all your griefs and pains. Half an hour in the presence of our God will make us forget a lifetime of agony. 

“Leaning on her beloved!” Is this the position of your soul? Do you feel empty, weak, and helpless; and do you see Him mighty to save, able to save to the uttermost? “His legs are like pillars of marble.” This is Christ’s glory, that He justifies sinners who have no righteousness, and sanctifies souls that have no inborn holiness. Let Jesus bear your whole weight. Remember, He loves to be the only support of the soul. He is a jealous Savior. He wants to be entirely trusted. There is nothing that you can possibly need but you will find it in Him. 

“All my springs are in Thee.” Do you want righteousness? He has the spirit of a weaned child to give you.—Ps. 131. Do you want love! He is the fountain of love: all the promises of God in Him are yea and in Him amen. I am sure, if you get a glimpse of Him, you would lay your head in His breast and stay there. May the Spirit anoint your eyes to see Him more and more, and soften your heart to lean on Him. Those that have leaned on Him through the wilderness shall sit with Him on the throne.—Rev. 3:21. 

Farewell, dear soul! the Lord feed you sweetly, as he feeds the flowers, by silent drops of dew.—Ever yours, etc.

From: McCheyne, Robert Murray, and Andrew A. Bonar. Memoir and Remains of the Rev. Robert Murray McCheyne. Edinburgh; London: Oliphant Anderson & Ferrier, 1894. Print.

Strength for the Journey

I like to look for parables of God’s kingdom in the world around me; elements of eternal truths being lived out in temporal ways. If you watch carefully, you can see this happening all the time. This plays a big part of how I write a message for a funeral service; taking those visible signs of God’s grace in the lives of the saints and using them to demonstrate God’s providential care. God’s truth, His word, is the very fabric of creation, and by His Word all of creation is held together. It should come as no surprise, then, that His word is woven into the lives of His people.

I’m writing this in Colorado, as we are making our way to the funeral service for my wife’s grandmother, Lois Crow. I have a lot of great memories of Grandma Crow, but there is one in which I see vividly a parable of God’s gracious provision for His people.

When Christi and I were first married, I worked for Sterling College in the admissions office, recruiting students from Western Kansas and Colorado. In the fall I would travel up and down the eastern range of the mountains, visiting high schools, making house calls, and doing all I could to promote my alma mater.

There was one tour in Colorado where I found myself near Grandma Crow’s house for an evening before a series of College Fairs along the I-25 corridor. Graciously, Grandma Crow welcomed me into her home for the evening, visited late into the night, then promised a warm breakfast for the next day.

Normally when I was on the road for College Fairs, my breakfasts consisted of coffee and whatever I could grab on the way out of the hotel lobby. Not this morning. I was woken to the aroma of bacon wafting into my room, and when I came to the table for breakfast, my first thought was, “Who else will be joining us today?”

Grandma had made bacon, eggs, pancakes, toast, and coffee. As I’d clean my plate, she’d pour more food on. I don’t think she ever sat to eat with me, but just kept serving and serving. I ate so much I felt like I’d never have to eat again. And I didn’t eat for the rest of the day. I drove up and down the front range meeting with students, and never once did I even want to stop for a bite to eat. I was still full when I went to bed that night, and the next morning when I left my hotel, I had to convince myself to take something for breakfast on the road.

As I thought back on this story, I was reminded of the time when Elijah was fed by the angel of God. 1 Kings 19 tells of Elijah’s flight into the wilderness. He had just defeated the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, but fearing for his life, he ran from the armies of Queen Jezebel. Thinking his life was over, the forces against him being too strong, he went into the wilderness to die.

In the midst of Elijah’s brokenness, an angel of the Lord came to him, and fed him three times, telling Elijah, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” Elijah ate and was strengthened, and continued his journey to Horeb (40 days and nights of wandering), where he spoke with God on the mountain.

Isn’t that how God continues to provide for us? When we are at our weakest, God graciously comes to us, strengthening us with His presence, and encouraging us for our journey. Psalm 23 says He prepares a table for us in the presence of our enemies, and our cup overflows. Through the prophet Isaiah, God invites all who are thirsty to come to Him (Isa 55:1). Jesus even said, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst” (John 6:35). When we place our faith in Christ, resting in and receiving Him as our Lord and Savior, our hearts are filled and never wanting. He cares for and provide for our every need, so that we need not look elsewhere for satisfaction. When we “feed” on Christ by faith, we will never be hungry again.

I like to think that Grandma’s breakfast that morning so many years ago was a parable, visible evidence of God’s invisible grace. As she fed and provided for my needs that day, Christ had also come to feed and provide for my every need. The journey before me that day was tough, but I was sufficiently fed and strengthened to face the task. The spiritual journey before me today is impossible in my own strength, but Christ has, by His grace, more than sufficiently fed and strengthened me for the task.

May you be strengthened in Christ for your journey today; and may your eyes be opened that you may see God’s truth being lived out before you!

Grace and Peace

Pastor Ethan