Please tell me, will you, if a really victorious life is possible to me; I mean a day-by-day, year-in-and-year-out experience? I have so much of struggle and battle in my life that a life of constant victory seems a vague, faraway dream. It seems to me that the only ones capable of obtaining and retaining this blissful state are those living very sheltered lives and with few obstacles in their way. These may live victoriously; but as for me, with my toils and troubles of various kinds, how can it be possible? I have met many victorious Christians. Of course I do not know how it is with them; but I believe their sweet temper pointed plainly to the fact that their lives had fallen in very pleasant places. Can you give me any clue to this matter? If a victorious life is possible for me, I want it. Will you help me? Thank you!
* * * * *
Well, upon my word! There goes Pilgrim Serene, who lives in Poverty Vale, close by Caleb's fair Hebron home! Shall we engage her in conversation? They say she is one of the sweetest-tempered pilgrims in Canaan, and yet we are told that her home is in one of the poorest spots in the land. And who is that walking by her side! She seems to be very happy. Oh, yes, that is Pilgrim Joyful! And where does she live? They say she lives in Trouble Hollow, close by Offense Mountain. My, those names sound ominous, don't they! Do let us engage them in conversation; for it seems sweeter faced pilgrims we never have seen.
"May we walk with you in the way? And may we inquire about your home in Canaan, and why it is you seem so happy and calm? We are only a few days over the Jordan, and are trying to learn all we can of the land. Where did you get those beautiful flowers in your hands? Tell us your experiences! Please do!"
"You are welcome to our company, gladly. I am Pilgrim Serene; my companion is Pilgrim Joyful. These flowers came from the garden of Patient Endurance, which is situated on Mount Calm. The flowers are free to all pilgrims; but the road to the garden is a very rough road, and thorn-bushes fringe it for a considerable distance. Some pilgrims once organized a band to clear out the thorns; but the bushes have such a tough bark that no knife was able to cut through them. So they stand there still. Another band gathered out all the stones; but new stones fall from the cliffs above all the time, and some of the new stones are worse to cut the feet of pilgrims than the old ones were. So it is thought best to let the path alone. Just smell how sweet these are!"
"Where do you live, Pilgrim Serene?"
"I live in Poverty Vale. The floor of the valley is very hard and poor. But Immanuel walks and talks with me. Every day He comes and helps me; every day He lifts burdens off my back. Showers of blessing fall every day or two."
"You never have any trouble do you, Pilgrim Serene? I am sure you do not; for you look so free from care and worry."
"My dear pilgrim, I have a struggle all the time. I never know what it is to be free from pain or poverty. If it were not for Honey Rock, I certainly should have famished long ago."
"Where is Honey Rock?"
"Oh, it borders the Vale, high up in the mountains. Only a faint path leads to it; for it seems only a few pilgrims know where it is. And besides, it is the roughest path I ever tried to follow. But once one is at the Rock, all one has to do to feast on the nectar is to smite the Rock in the name of Immanuel, and forthwith there comes out the most delicious honey in all the world."
"Oh, we wish to eat of it! But, there is that rough foot-path. I don't know whether we can walk it or not!"
"Have you been to Honey Rock too, Pilgrim Joyful?"
"Yes, pilgrims, I have. I was there yesterday."
"Is it that which caused the scratches and blood stains on your feet and hands and which tore your garments?"
"Yes, pilgrims. As to my home, it is in Trouble Hollow. Offense Mountain rises high on two sides of it. Not many pilgrims like my home; but Immanuel gave it to me, and any home in Canaan is preferable to the best spot in the Wilderness, better than the grandest mansion in Egypt. It is true my home is in a dark valley, and old Offense Mountain has continual landslides that I have to help clear away; but, glory and praises to Immanuel! a bare existence in Canaan surpasses anything I ever enjoyed before. Hallelujah! Angels in bands visit me often. Heaven seems in sight!"
"Thank you Serene and Joyful. We shall be glad to meet you again."
These two pilgrims whose lives are spent in Canaan's most troubled spots have a holy serenity that shames us when we think of how we complain at a few hard things that we have met. Thank God for such pilgrims!
Here is a true story. Mrs. B -- -- is a cripple woman who walks with a crutch. Years ago she was converted and later was wholly sanctified. Her husband was a wicked man who gave her a great deal of trouble and at last died and left her with several children. They were miserably poor. She took her family overland for a hundred miles to another place, walking and carrying their effects as best they could. She is still poor, though her children have now become self-supporting. No one could think of anything harder to go through with than this woman had. Her physical handicap prevented her doing many things she could otherwise have done, she was compelled to work at the hardest jobs, and had to see her children grow up without schooling. All was hard; just plain, hard living. If the family had enough to eat, it was a thing to be thankful for. And yet, in those years this woman has always been cheerful, and gives a brilliant testimony to the grace of God to keep her sweet and joyful.
Another case is that of "Brother H," we shall call him. Brother H was afflicted with tuberculosis. He was called to the ministry, was a splendid singer, mightily gifted in prayer, and was used of God in working several remarkable miracles of healing. His family was numerous, much more so than his afflicted condition made possible for him to support. He lived in a small three-room house, with eight or nine children and an overburdened wife. He could do no work. His neighbors frowned on him and persecuted him mildly for not working. His home was the very picture of poverty; nothing could be worse in that line, scarcely. Yet he was a man of the highest Christian integrity and faith, and was one of the happiest Christians one could meet. And his happiness was not that of the careless man, not the happiness of a callous, uneducated person; for he felt keenly the poverty to which he was subjected and was always embarrassed at his state and the condition of his home. He had that fine intuition and grace of a gentleman of the highest order; and yet he was happy in the Lord. His happiness was the genuine joy of full salvation in his heart, born of a faith that believed all things were working together for his good.
Entire sanctification is not something that takes troubles out of the life, neither does it change one's outward circumstances; but it does lift the soul above all earthly troubles and let it soar in God's free air of victory.
To the fully consecrated soul there are no "second causes"; that is, no one is between him and God who can harm him or affect him in any way apart from God's will. It may be that others will mistreat us grievously, and their acts be wrong and utterly opposed to God's will; but those acts have had to pass God's will in getting to us. By this they become the will of God to us. For instance, some one may persecute us. The spirit of persecution is wicked and God has nothing to do with it; but before that persecution reaches us it must pass God's will; so the persecution becomes God's will to us, and we bear it for His sake. God may put some bad medicine in human bottles and cause us to drink of them for our good.
This victorious life is a life on wings. We are to mount up with wings as eagles. The wings are faith and consecration. When troubles come, we flap our wings and fly over them. Since we are God's, it is His place to bring us out and help us over, hence the fully consecrated soul trusts, and lets God work matters out. Of course, this does not mean that we shall not help ourselves. In fact, little trust can be exercised until we have done all we can do to help ourselves; but if we can not avail or prevail, we carry it to the Lord and leave it with Him to work out.
David speaks of the Lord's hiding him in His secret place, in His pavilion, under His wings. Jesus has said that not a hair of our head shall fall without our Father's notice. Peter says we are to cast all our care upon God, for God careth for us. And Paul exhorts us to be careful for nothing, but with prayer and thanksgiving let our requests be known to God.
The greatest of all comforts is this, "We know that all things work together for good to them that love God" (Romans 8:28). "All things" means all things. The Christian who gives up all is certain of God's continual care and protection. He can not expect to escape trouble or trial or temptation; but he is kept in these things. "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee." "Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them." That is, nothing shall cause them to fall. They may be hurt, and be wounded by the inconsiderate or deliberate acts or words of others; but they will sail on in peace in God.
The will of God surrounds us like a wall, and nothing can penetrate that wall and touch our consecrated souls unless God so wills, or permits.
Of all lives, the victorious life is the richest and best. There is joy in serving, giving, sacrificing. If we are persecuted for Christ's sake, there is great joy. Life's problems are met with faith. A colored woman who had to wash for a living was very happy all the time. Rich women would marvel at her peace of mind, and one time one of them chided her for her optimism, which to the rich woman seemed based on nothing. "Why, suppose you should get sick, or suppose something should happen," said her rich friend. "Oh, I never supposes," said the poor woman. "That is what is the matter with you, you supposes and supposes and imagines all lands of ill coming on you. The Lord is my shepherd, and I shall not want. So I never supposes, I know everything will come out all right." She just flapped her wings, so to speak, and flew over her troubles.
The victorious life is free from worry, fretting, overanxious solicitude, burdensome care. It is free from malice, ill will, retaliation. It is free from bad temper, sees the bright side of things, and wears its clouds inside out. The sanctified life is a life of faith, and it is a life of obedience. To trust has to it become a habit, to obey a second nature. The victorious life looks not behind, but ahead; it ignores past failures and goes forward in faith.
And this victorious life is for all. Instead of being for favored folk, it is for the weak, the burdened, the poor, the sick, the troubled, the persecuted. Enter in by consecration and faith. Yield all just now. Lay all on God's altar. Be His alone. Then by faith enter into this life which will be yours every day as you live by faith and trust and obey.