The Secret Of Power
“They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength” (Isaiah xl. 31).
If I were dying, and had the privilege of delivering a last exhortation to all the Christians of the world, and that message had to be condensed into three words, I would say, “Wait on God!”
Wherever I go I find backsliders — Methodist backsliders, Baptist backsliders, Salvationist backsliders — all kinds of backsliders by the thousand, until my heart aches as I think of the great army of discouraged souls, of the way in which the Holy Spirit has been grieved, and of the way in which Jesus has been treated.
If these backsliders were asked the cause of their present condition, ten thousand different reasons would be given; but, after all, there is but one, and that is this: they did not wait on God. If they had waited on Him when the fierce assault was made that overthrew their faith and robbed them of their courage and bankrupted their love, they would have renewed their strength and mounted over all obstacles as though on eagles’ wings. They would have run through their enemies and not been weary. They would have walked in the midst of trouble and not fainted.
Waiting on God means more than a prayer of thirty seconds on getting up in the morning and going to bed at night. It may mean one prayer that gets hold of God and comes away with the blessing, or it may mean a dozen prayers that knock and persist and will not be put off, until God arises, and makes bare His arm on behalf of the pleading soul.
There is a drawing nigh to God, a knocking at Heaven’s doors, a pleading of the promises, a reasoning with Jesus, a forgetting of self a turning from all earthly concerns, a holding on with determination to never let go, that puts all the wealth of Heaven’s wisdom and power and love at the disposal of a little man, so that he shouts and triumphs when all others tremble and fail and fly, and becomes more than conqueror in the very face of death and Hell.
It is in the heat of just such seasons of waiting on God that every great soul gets the wisdom and strength that make it an astonishment to other men. They, too, might be “great in the sight of the Lord,” if they would wait on God and be true, instead of getting excited and running to this man and that for help when the testing times come.
The Psalmist had been in great trouble, and this is what he says of his deliverance: “I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And He hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord” (Ps. xl. 1-3).
The other day I went to a poor little corps where nearly everything had been going wrong. Many were cold and discouraged; but I found one sister with a wondrous glory in her face, and glad, sweet praises in her mouth. She told me how she had looked at others falling around her, had seen the carelessness of many, and noted the decline of vital piety in the corps, until her heart ached and she felt disheartened and her feet almost slipped. But she went to God, and got down low before Him, and prayed and waited, until He drew near her, and showed her the awful precipice on which she herself was standing — showed her that her one business was to follow Jesus, to walk before Him with a perfect heart, and to cleave to Him, though the whole corps backslid. Then she confessed all that God showed her; confessed how near she had come to joining the great army of backsliders herself through looking at others; humbled herself before Him, and renewed her covenant, until an unutterable joy came to her heart, and God put His fear in her soul, and filled her with the glory of His presence.
She told me, further, that the next day she fairly trembled to think of the awful danger she had been in, and declared that that time of waiting on God in the silence of the night saved her, and now her heart was filled with the full assurance of hope for herself, and not only for herself, but also for the corps. Oh, for ten thousand such soldiers!
David said, “My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from Him (Ps. lxii. 5); and again he declares: “I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait, and in His name do I hope. My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning” (Ps. cxxx. 5); and he sends out this ringing exhortation and note of encouragement to you and me: “Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord” (Ps. xxvii. 14).
The secret of all failures, and of all true success, is hidden in the attitude of the soul in its private walk with God. The man who courageously waits on God is bound to succeed. He cannot fail. To other men he may appear for the present to fail, but in the end they will see what he knew all the time: that God was with him, making him, in spite of all appearances, “a prosperous man.”
Jesus puts the secret into these words: “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly” (Matt. vi. 6).
Know, then, that all failure has its beginning in the closet, in neglecting to wait on God until filled with wisdom, clothed with power, and all on fire with love.