Walk Before Me
How much there is in those three words, “Walk before Me.” As much as to say, “Obey Me, do as I tell you, and not only will I bless you, but will also make you a blessing to mankind.” In the twelfth chapter God had said to Abram, “I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing.” And now God is ready to fulfill His promise if Abram will obey. “Walk before Me; listen to My counsel and do My bidding.”
Abram had not fully obeyed, had no separated from all his kindred, and had gotten. into trouble and had been compelled to go to war as a result. Again, he had not remained in the land that God shewed him, but went off down into Egypt and fell into trouble there. Still further, instead of listening fully to the Lord, he had listened to Sarah and that had brought trouble. God had promised Abram children, but instead of depending upon God to bring it about in His own way, Abram “hearkened to the voice of Sarah,” who had no children. She proposed that he take her Egyptian maid and raise up children. When the maid was about to become a mother, Sarah drove her from home. and then charged Abram with the fault when he had but listened to her and had done as she wished. But, it had brought trouble to Abram. There are many today who, had they listened to the Lord and obeyed His word, would not be in the trouble they are now in. God gives no commands that can be broken without entailing suffering, and to disregard His counsel will bring disappointment and sorrow every time.
As we look back over the past twenty years, memory recalls many, many instances of where certain individuals had started to serve the Lord, but had listened to the counsel of those who cared not for His will, and today their lives, many of them, are shipwrecked; some are dead and gone; others are backslidden and away from God; while. others are still endeavoring to retain their salvation and keep up a profession; but they are tied up and are down and out of the fight and their usefulness is a thing of the past; all because they listened to others than the Lord.
We will give but one such instance. We were walking down the street in an Eastern city when a young man stepped up and, slipping his hand under our arm, said: “I know you, Brother Williams, but you don’t know me. I have been attending your meetings and am miserable. Seven years ago I knew the Lord and He called me to the work of the Salvation Army. I obeyed, but being under age and my parents strongly objecting, my father finally forced me to leave and go home. I backslid and, although father is a church member, yet, sometimes cursing each other, we made the last seven years like Hell in our home.”
We persuaded the young man to attend the meeting and one night he came to the altar. Kneeling by his side, we tried to help him, but he said, “If I surrender I will have to take up the work of God where I laid it down, and I cannot do it.” He left the altar and the building, and at three o’clock that morning was taken home in a cab beastly intoxicated. A few days later he came again, and after a hard struggle at the altar said “yes” to God and was wonderfully blessed. To one and all, far and wide, he said, “I shall do what God wants me to do.” He pinned a badge on his coat, and night after night he could be found on the street corner beating the drum and testifying to what God had done for his soul. He was employed as a reporter on a leading state paper. He received sneers and ridicule in the office, but nothing seemed to daunt him. Finally the manager informed him to lay aside his uniform and remain away from the street meetings, or he would be discharged. He would not compromise and was discharged, but the Christian people of the city made such a remonstrance that he was quickly reinstated.
Then his father tried to get him to stop, and when he refused his father had the mayor of the city send for him; but G____ testified to the mayor of the wonderful changes that God had wrought in him, and the mayor said, “Go on, you are doing right.”
Then his mother professed to be losing her mind over him, and would moan and scream and shriek, “I can see little devils with S____’s on their collars.” He had a physician examine his mother, who reported that the woman was shamming and endeavoring to make believe. Then a preacher went. to G____ and tried to persuade him from his chosen work, saying, “You have abilities for work among a higher class of people; and you should not bury your talents among a lower grade,” etc., etc., but to it all G_____ turned a deaf ear and went on doing what he felt God wanted him to do.
After he had been restored and reclaimed from his backslidden state, he had met and become engaged to a beautiful and accomplished young lady. He frankly told her to what he had consecrated his life, and she promised to stand by him, but a few evenings out on the street corner with her ungodly friends standing about sneering at her was more than she could stand, and sending for G____ she promptly informed him that he must choose between such work and her. She held a dear spot in his life, and persuaded him after the argument of the preacher, and he, like Abram, “hearkened to the voice of Sarah,” laid aside his uniform, stepped aside and joined the more “intellectual” class.
Soon afterward a letter from his pen reached us saying, “The joy that was mine, unbroken for so many weeks, has all gone; and there remains nothing but a sort of perfunctory service which seems to be the largest part of the average experience. God forgive me, for I cannot forgive myself.” And, like Sarah, the young lady turned on him after he had followed her counsel, and, finally threw him overboard.
We did our utmost to get him back to God. We have seen him make a hard struggle to so do, but some way he could not get his footing. Years afterwards in his private office he turned the key in the lock and said, “Oh, what would I give if I could go back to those days when I listened God and obeyed His voice!”
Only a few days ago, passing through that city, we tried to find him, but he had moved away some five years previously. Broken down in health and a nervous wreck, he had gone to a sanitarium.
As we look back along the road, the pathway is lined with shipwrecks and castaways. God had put up with Abram’s wobbling for over twenty years and now said “Walk before Me.”
Dear reader, are you walking before God? Are you constantly saying “yes” to His will? If not, we warn you that trouble, sorrow and disappointment are ahead. Let us urge you to listen no longer to any voice but that of the Almighty God, who holds your breath in His hands. He alone can see down the future; He alone can see what lies before you; He alone can steer your frail bark; He alone can guide you through the rocks and the shoals. if you will walk before Him, He will not only bless you, but will make you a blessing to a poor lost world. We pray that ere your head shall press its pillow again, your heart will be saying, “Yes, Lord, whither Thou sendest there will I go; what Thou sayest, that will I do.”