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.

A Pastoral Letter

If you have read much of my blog, or heard any of my sermons, you know that one of my role-models in the Christian life is Robert Murray M’Cheyne, the young Scottish pastor of the early 19th Century. Much of M’Cheyne’s work was directed toward bringing renewal and reformation to the Church, having been pained by the spiritual deadness of many of the parishes he visited. If you read just a sample of his sermons, you find a great passion for Christ, and an earnest plea for Christians to fly to Jesus. 

As you read his memoirs, you find that he was often of poor health, and sadly died at the young age of 29. His good friend and fellow pastor Andrew Bonar collected his memoirs, letters and sermons, without which the memory of M’Cheyne would have been completely lost. I often turn to these memoirs when I have a couple of moments to spare, and happened to come across one of the letters that M’Cheyne wrote to a member of his parish on finding Gods blessings in the midst of sickness. I thought this highly relevant to our day, and thought to share it with you here.

How cares and troubles sanctify
March 31, 1840.

Dear M.,

I may not see you for a little, as I am not strong; and therefore I send you a line in answer to your letter. I like to hear from you, and especially when God is revealing himself to your soul. All His doings are wonderful. It is, indeed, amazing how He makes use of affliction to make us feel His love more. Your house is, I trust, in some measure like that house in Bethany of which it is said, “Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.” They had different degrees of grace. One had more faith, and another more love, still Jesus loved them all. Martha was more inclined to be worldly than Mary, yet Jesus loved them both. It is a happy house when Jesus loves all that dwell in it. Surely it is next door to heaven.

The message of Martha and Mary to Christ (John 11:3) teaches you to carry all your temporal as well as your spiritual troubles to his feet. Leave them there. Carry one another’s case to Jesus. Is it not a wonderful grace in God to have given you peace in Christ, before laying you down on your long sick-bed? It would have been a wearisome lie if you had been an enemy to God, and then it would have been over hell. Do you feel Rom. 5:3 to be true in your experience? You cannot love trouble for its own sake; bitter must always be bitter, and pain must always be pain. God knows you cannot love trouble. Yet for the blessings that it brings, He can make you pray for it. Does trouble work patience in you? Does it lead you to cling closer to the Lord Jesus—to hide deeper in the rock? Does it make you “be still and know that He is God?” Does it make you lie passive in his hand, and know no will but his? Thus does patience work experience—an experimental acquaintance with Jesus. Does it bring you a fuller taste of his sweetness, so that you know whom you have believed? And does this experience give you a further hope of glory—an other anchor cast within the veil? And does this hope give you a heart that cannot be ashamed, because convinced that God has loved you, and will love you to the end? Ah! then you have got the improvement of trouble, if it has led you thus. Pray for me still, that I may get the good of all God’s dealings with me. Lean all on Jesus. Pray for a time of the pouring out of God’s Spirit, that many more may be saved. I hope the Lord’s work is not done in this place yet.

Ever your affectionate pastor, etc**

First of all, I am humbled by the pastoral skill demonstrated here.  In this time of social-distancing, I am making every effort to call and check in with my congregation. But M’Cheyne’s letters are truly amazing in how he can draw out spiritual truths and apply them to his readers.

Secondly, I find his pastoral instruction so helpful, even for today. While we are not to love the coronavirus for it’s own sake, we can see how this time of uncertainly teaches us to cling closer to the Lord, to hide deeper in him, and brings us “into a fuller taste of his sweetness.” For that we can truly be grateful.

Heed the advise of Pastor M’Cheyne, “lean on Jesus,” and “pray for an outpouring of Gods Spirit.” If we do nothing other than those two things in this Coronavirus season, this time will not be lost to us.

Grace and Peace!

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