When I read this portion from Streams in the Dessert the other day and then again this morning, I was so blessed and encouraged by it. We often think that to be in the service of the Lord is to be doing something, especially something great for God. But we forget, or maybe are not even aware of the fact, that God at times will call us to serve Him by waiting on Him, by being still before Him, by simply drawing near to Him, doing exactly what He puts before us for that day and nothing more, no matter how insignificant it may seem to us. If He asks us to do it, then no matter how seemingly small and insignificant the duty, the duty is still ours to be done in joyful and surrendered obedience to the service and glory of the Lord. God does not see big things and little things. Every act of obedience is the same in His eyes and they all bring Him glory, even when He commands us to simply wait upon Him. It often seems that in those times of waiting, silence, and stillness, we often hear the voice of the Lord the clearest and are enabled to draw the nearer to Him in those times as we learn to trust and wait upon Him and to hear His voice better. Perhaps some of our readers are experiencing a time of waiting in their lives. I hope this will be an encouragement to some of you.
What a strange prohibition! These men were going into Bithynia just to do Christ's work, and the door is shut against them by Christ's own Spirit.
I, too, have experienced this in certain moments. I have sometimes found myself interrupted in what seemed to me a career of usefulness. Opposition came and forced me to go back, or sickness came and compelled me to retire into a desert apart.
It was hard at such times to leave my work undone when I believed that work to be the service of the Spirit. But I came to remember that the Spirit has not only a service of work, but a service of waiting. I came to see that in the Kingdom of Christ there are not only times for action, but times in which to forbear acting. I came to learn that the desert place apart is often the most useful spot in the varied life of man--more rich in harvest than the seasons in which the corn and wine abounded. I have been taught to thank the blessed Spirit that many a darling Bithynia had to be left unvisited by me.
And so, Thou Divine Spirit, would I still be led by Thee. Still there come to me disappointed prospects of usefulness. Today the door seems to open into life and work for Thee; tomorrow it closes before me just as I am about to enter. Teach me to see another door in the very inaction of the hour. Help me to find in the very prohibition thus to serve Thee, a new opening into Thy service. Inspire me with the knowledge that a man may at times be called to do his duty by doing nothing, to work by keeping still, to serve by waiting. When I remember the power of the "still small voice," I shall not murmur that sometimes the Spirit suffers me not to go.
"When I cannot understand my Father's leading,
And it seems to be but hard and cruel fate,
I Still I hear that gentle whisper ever
pleading,God is working, God is faithful, ONLY WAIT."