(Inspired by a message by Canon T.D. Harford-Battersby of Keswick.)
An intimate walk with the Lord: that is the whole issue! Not just a walk with the Lord, but a close walk, an intimate walk, with the Lord. It is evident from even a superficial reading of that little book in the Old Testament, ‘The Song of Solomon’, that God’s desire is that His children should walk closely with Him, and that the saint must be truly in love with the Lord. How many times we find in the early chapters of Genesis the words,‘He walked with God’! We know from the life of Enoch that he walked closely with God, and God was pleased with Him, so pleased that he did not see death but was translated to heaven. We know that Noah walked with God, and he so pleased God that he was the only one, with his household, permitted to escape the terrible judgment of the Flood that came upon the antediluvian generation. Abraham himself testified that he walked before God, Gen 24.40, and we know that he was thrice declared to be ‘the friend of God’. We see the psalmist determined to ‘walk before the Lord in the land of the living’. Ps 116.9. The prophets, too, exhort us to walk in the light of the Lord, Isa 2.5; and to walk in ‘the ancient paths, where the good way is…and you shall find rest for your souls’, Jer 6.16.
Ah, that’s the problem with us! We are not able to find ‘rest for our souls’. The Lord Jesus promised: ‘Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls’, Matt 11:29. We have found the initial rest, when our burdens were rolled away, especially the burden and guilt of sin, at the foot of the cross, Matt 11:28. But alas, we are unable to ‘learn from Him’ and sustain that rest, unable to maintain what the Bible calls faith-rest, which is that quietness and confidence, so necessary for the health and prosperity our souls. Heb 4:9,10; Isa 30:15.
Deep down in everyone of us is a dissatisfaction with our spiritual walk. Our Christian life and experience over the years is so wayward, irregular and erratic. It is more of a declension, a terrible decline! We are unable to walk with the Lord, walk after to the Spirit, walk step-by-step with the Holy Spirit of God. How often we are led astray by the flesh and the world and Satan! How do we learn to cultivate a longing for the Lord, as the Shulamite longed to be with her Beloved?
How do we let the peace of God rule in our hearts? When will there be an end to ‘the weary wanderings and tossings to and fro’? What has happened to our ‘first love’ for the Lord? Why have our hearts become cold and dry? How is it that we have lost that peace and joy and comfort, that blessed communion with the Lord, that we enjoyed in the early days and weeks and months of our conversion? Why have there been so many ‘wasted years’ and so many wanderings in the wilderness of unbelief, unrest and dissatisfaction with ourselves and with the Lord?
How do we rekindle the flame of desire for the Lord? Surely, to go about mourning and with a glum face is to malign the character of the blessed and happy Lord. Should Christians be always enveloped in gloom? Does it not say that ‘They looked unto Him and were radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed,’ Ps 34.5? Is there not some way by which, instead of falling back like Israel in the wilderness, we are able to go from strength to strength, from victory to victory, towards the goal that God would lead us to? Does it not say ‘Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ’ 1 Cor 15.57? Where is that victory?
1. Need for A Quiet Time with the Lord
I believe that the first thing is to set up and establish a Quiet Time with the Lord. Indeed, the best time for this is early in the morning. Begin the day with reading the Word of God and prayer, and blessing and peace will rest upon all your activities of the day. There must be a life of constant communion with God, whereby we learn to consult Him for everything, and where we wait eagerly for His guidance and grace in all matters. We are called into a life of fellowship with the Lord, a constant, regular and intimate walk with the Lord. 1 Cor 1.9, 1 John 1.3. It is necessary therefore to ‘abide in Him’, our thoughts resting on Him, our hearts yearning for Him, and our souls waiting expectantly for His answers to our prayers. What is the point of praying, without expecting answers to our prayers? Surely, He is a prayer-hearing and a prayer-answering God, who says, ‘Call unto me in the day of trouble, and I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me,’ Psalm 50.15. ‘Call unto Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things you know not of,’ Jer 33.3.
2. A Matter of Faith
It is therefore a matter of faith. ‘We will trust in the Lord, and not be disturbed or shaken.’ ‘He who trusts in the Lord will not be disappointed,’ Isa 28.16. Why should we have any doubt or discouragement, when we rest upon the Rock of Ages? Does it not say that God’s people will never be put to shame, Joel 2.26, 27?
But how do we find this faith? How does this faith grow? By reading and digesting the word of God, by claiming the promises of God. ‘Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of God (or Christ),” Rom 10.17. According to AT Pierson there are over 30,000 promises in the Bible. And according to the famous preacher, Charles Spurgeon, who wrote ‘Faith’s Checkbook’, we are as rich as the promises of God that we treasure in our hearts and claim boldly and fervently by prayer. God longs to speak to us, and speak He does – through His promises, day by day. May we cultivate an ear which is sensitive to His still, small voice.
3. Need for Confession
We begin by setting things right with God. We have all gone astray, and we need to come to the altar once again, and frankly confess our failures before God. We need to pour out our heart to Him. Oh, it is so important, in our walk with God, to talk to Him! He longs to hear our cry, a cry that comes from deep within our heart. A cry that is often unspoken, but is like a ‘heavy burden’ in our hearts.
4. Need for Grace
Confess your helplessness before God. Ask for His grace; it is sufficient grace, abundant grace, victorious grace. Beloved, we live entirely by the grace of God. ‘It does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.’ Rom 9.16. We are but weak, foolish sheep, and it is the Great Shepherd provides for all our needs; His goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of our life as He leads us in our journey through the steep hills and dark valleys to our final destination.
Everything is provided for in Christ. He is the Bread of Life. He gives the Water of Life. He is the Tree of Life. He is the Resurrection and the Life. Our experiences in life, the challenges we face, are meant to show how Christ is sufficient for everything! ‘Of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace’, John 1.16. ‘My God shall supply all your needs according to the glorious riches in grace in Christ Jesus’, Phil 4.19. It is the glory of His grace! Eph 1.6.
We go through many trials in life, and we cry out, ‘Lord, I need You! You are my strength and my salvation. I am nothing; You are everything. Lord, I trust in You to deliver me, to supply my need, to comfort me, to carry me through.’ It is amazing how the Lord delivers; we are ever making fresh discoveries of the love and power of our Lord Jesus to save. He is an ever-present Saviour; truly the God of deliverances. We are kept in perfect peace in the most distressing circumstances. And He enables us to do His will and keep His commandments in such a way as to draw forth our wonder and praise. Oh, the Lord gives us grace even to obey. We have seen, again and again in the most troublesome and tense situations, how in a marvelous way our Lord is faithful and He does it! 1 Thess 5.24.
5. Remove the Idols in our Life
It is possible however that we may be cherishing some idol in our heart, which hinders our communion with God. We cannot serve both God and Mammon. If we are seeking the deceitfulness of riches and the pleasures of the flesh, then God’s presence will fade away. God will not dwell in a heart defiled by idols, by earthly desires and fleshly lusts. We cannot walk with God, unless we be ‘agreed with Him’, Amos 3.3. We need to surrender ourselves on the altar of God, and be purified by the precious blood, and sanctified to His service alone, living entirely for His glory. It is a walk of moment-by-moment dependence on the Lord, who is our strength and our salvation. When once we are in the Promised Land, there is no place for an Achan to lurk in our hearts, seeking Babylonian attractions, coveting the ‘accursed thing’. We must come to the stage of consecration and absolute surrender, praying that the Lord will take away all unholy desires and that He will, through the Holy Spirit, mortify the deeds of the flesh, Rom 8.13. We need to be conscious of the fact that the Lord has poured His love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, Rom 5.5. Yes, we must ever be clinging to the cross, allowing it to do a deep work in us. It is only as the death of the Lord Jesus Christ works in us, that His risen life will flow through us. 2 Cor 4.12
6. Need for Watchfulness
We must be ever watchful. We have to walk in wisdom, walk in love, walk in the light, walk in the Spirit. In other words, we walk before the Lord, conscious of His presence, delighting in Him, and longing to be a ‘sanctified vessel, fit for the Master’s use’, 2 Tim 2.21. ‘Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation’, Matt 26.41. How important to ‘walk before the Lord, in the light of His word’! How important to learn to wait for His guidance for every step we take. We remember how Joshua and the elders of Israel were deceived by the wily Gibeonites, because they ‘asked not counsel at the mouth of the Lord.’ Josh 9.14. We need to maintain an attitude of humility and faith, remembering our inherent weakness and folly, never daring to do anything apart from the Lord and His grace. ‘Wait on the Lord’ is the injunction repeated often in the Psalms. ‘Wait on the Lord, I say!’
7. Need for A Devotional Life
Alas, the tragedy of modern times is that men are more zealous for doctrine and less desirous of the devotional life, so essential for one who seeks to walk closely with the Lord. It is possible to hold the truths of doctrine in our heads, while having a heart that has no desire for an intimate fellowship with the Lord. ‘The Song of Solomon’ speaks of the blessedness of the devotional life, the joy of intimate communion with the Lord! Soundness of doctrine and correctness of moral deportment cannot make up for the lack of the ‘one thing needful’, which is, to sit and the feet of the Lord, to wait in His presence, to hear His still soft voice. The secrets of the Lord are shared with those who walk closely with Him.
© Roland Oliver/Pratonix, 2011