A Bride In War Boots

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This message which I published on A Mending Feast a few years ago came on my heart again this morning. For, do you hear it? The alarm of war is sounding. Let us, then, put on our beautiful wedding garments, and go forth with our Beloved to the battle!

A Mending Feast

Our beloved old friend CL Moore, who years ago came up from Oklahoma from time to time to minister in our midst, told us once he’d seen a vision of the bride of Christ.  She was dressed in pure white linen, and her beauty was breathtaking.  But then CL noticed something very incongruous.  She was wearing army boots!

Now, there are several places in Scripture that reveal it is not in the least strange that this bride is prepared for war.   But let us get the emphasis right.  It is the bride who is prepared for war.

First this:

Let us be glad, and rejoice, and give honour unto Him, for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His bride hath made herself ready.
And to her was given that she should be arrayed in fine linen clean and white [or, bright]: for fine linen is the righteousness [that…

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The Canon Of Life

I wanted to call this blog entry Sola Vitae, but changed my mind because I didn’t want to appear to be “putting on airs.” I don’t know Latin. Nevertheless, the idea for that title did seem to come to me by inspiration, and if you’ll follow along with me here, you’ll see why.

During the Reformation someone came up with the Latin phrase sola scriptura—Scripture alone—to proclaim the rule that is to govern all points of doctrine and practice for the Christian. The canon of Scripture, as it is called, is to be the determining rule for establishing Christian doctrine and practice. I myself am of this persuasion, as is the Bible. “All scripture,” saith the Bible, “is given by inspiration of God [is God-breathed] and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Tim 3:16,17). The implication of course is that what is not God-breathed is not to be used for doctrine and practice.

When Paul wrote this to Timothy, it was the Old Testament scriptures he had in mind, scriptures Timothy had been taught from his childhood, scriptures that were “able to make [him] wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus,” as Paul has just said in the previous verse. Yet even as Paul wrote this to Timothy, he was adding another writing to writings that were becoming recognized as divinely-inspired scriptures (2 Pt 3:16), documents that would accompany the Old Testament scriptures and eventually complete what we now know as the canon, the rule, of Scripture. The 39 books of the Old Testament were recognized as the canon of Scripture in the days of Jesus and earlier. The 27 books of the New Testament were recognized as the complete canon of Scripture at least as early as the second century. Other writings of the day, while they may have been interesting or informative one way or another, were recognized as not having the same divinely inspired and authoritative stamp.

Our English word canon is from the Greek kanon, which Strong’s defines simply as rule. That, in turn, is derived from the Hebrew kaneh, which in the Old Testament is often translated reed. We find it in Ezekiel  40:3 where in prophetic vision he sees a man in white linen with the appearance of bronze. He is about to show Ezekiel a temple. The man has “a line of flax in his hand, and a measuring reed…” In the New Testament Paul uses kanon three times in 2 Corinthians 10:13-16 referring to the limits of the area God had measured out for him in which to proclaim the Gospel. Paul was not free to preach wherever he wanted; he had to stay within those limits. In fact, even within those limits he could not go wherever he liked, he had to abide in the steps God had set before him.

Paul uses this word in a different context in Galatians, and this will lead us into the meaning of the title I coined for this blog entry (which about doubles my Latin vocabulary):               

But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.  For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature [or, creation]. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be upon them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God. (Gal. 6:14-16)

It’s the phrase, “walk according to this rule” that we want to look at more closely. The word walk in Scripture is usually peripateo, which means something like “to walk around.” Peri: around, as in looking around with a periscope. Patio: something you walk around on. When Paul says “walk in the Spirit,” it’s the word peripateo that he uses (Gal 5:16). Walk around in the Spirit: everything you do, everywhere you go, walk in the Spirit.

Amen. Yet, that is not the word Paul uses here; it is stoicheo he uses here, which means “to keep in step, to walk in rank.” The thought is of ordered steps. This is the word Paul uses when he speaks of those who, whether circumcised or uncircumcised, “walk (stoicheo) in the steps [footsteps, or tracks] of that faith of our father Abraham…” (Rom. 4:12). So we see the idea there—walking in someone else’s tracks, ordered steps. Luke uses it in Act 21:24, where James is exhorting Paul to purify himself prior to keeping a vow, thus demonstrating that the rumors that were going around about him—that he was teaching Jews living among the Gentiles to “forsake Moses” and didn’t need to circumcise their sons or keep the Jewish customs—James urges Paul to show the Jews here in Jerusalem that all this is false, but rather, Paul, “thou walkest orderly, and keepest the law.” Some teach that Paul really messed up here, but God had His own way of rescuing him out of it before it involved animal sacrifice; and in any case this would have accorded with Paul’s own desire to be “all things to all men.”

 Unto the Jew I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under law as under law, that I might gain them that are under the law… (1 Cor. 9:19-22)

This rule

But back to the Galatians passage. What rule does Paul have in mind by this rule?  

He has just said, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. And as many as walk according to this rule (Gk. kanon)…” This, then, is the rule he is referring to—the canon, the rule, of the new creation, of new creation life, by which those in Christ are graced to order their steps.

Let’s back up a little further. “For, in Christ Jesus…” What is that for there for? What does he mean by for? It follows immediately upon this:

 But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom [or, by which] the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. For, in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.

In other words, those in the world are either of the circumcision or the uncircumcision. But Paul in the crucified Christ is now dead to the world, and the world is dead to him, the world with its rules has no claim on him anymore. As he says in another place, “if ye died with Christ unto the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances…?” (Col. 2:20). Those in the world are either Jews or Gentiles, either circumcised or uncircumcised; now in the risen and glorified Christ, Paul is a new creation who walks according to a different rule, the rule of the new creation.

The whole epistle to the Galatian churches is Paul’s outcry against certain teachers who were trying to persuade new Gentile believers that in addition to faith in Christ they were required to keep the Old Covenant law, all of which was summed up in the one word, circumcision. Definitely not, said Paul. Not anymore. In Christ Jesus it is no more a matter of the rule of Moses that Israel was once required to keep, nor of any other rule by which Gentiles—the uncircumcised—were themselves restrained from walking after the natural inclination of the heart of fallen man. Rather, all those in Christ whether Jew or Gentile, are now a new creation, and the new creation man walks by a different rule, the rule of new creation life—the New Covenant law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. This is a law not of restraint, but of liberty. No, not the liberty of “doing your own thing.” On the contrary, it is walking in the ordered steps—the stoicheo—of a much higher and far more beautiful law. In Christ Jesus life is a rule. The life of the new creation man is a canon, a rule. How wondrous is that!

I said at the start that sola scriptura is a rule that I espouse. I am in fellowship with others who do the same and determine not to move a hair’s breadth from this rule. We are zealous for this, passionate about it. But oh, brothers and sisters, oh that we had the same zeal, the same passion, the same dedication, to sola vitae—life alonethe same determination to walk in the liberating confines of the steps of the rule, the canon, of new creation life. Upon these Paul pronounces a benediction.

As many as walk according to this rule, peace be upon them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.

Co-operating Faith

I’ve been wanting to share with you further about those two entries from F.B. Meyer’s Our Daily Walk that I wrote about last time. They both centred on the raising of Lazarus, and Martha’s faith. To refresh your memory here are extracts:

From the January 12th entry:

THIS CROWNING miracle of our Lord’s life is generally described as the Raising of Lazarus. I am not sure that it might not with equal truth be called the Awakening of Martha, for it is certain that the Lord lifted this soul, whom we have been wont to count prosaic and matter-of-fact, to a most remarkable elevation of faith and hope, as they stood together in the shadow of a great sorrow.

In common with the majority of religious people, Martha believed in a general resurrection at some still future date, but she had not realised that God lives in the present tense, that the Eternal is here and now, and that faith must learn to reckon on God’s I AM. We are always putting the manifestation of the Divine in the far past, or the far future. The heaven is high above the earth on which we stand; only at the horizon, behind us and before us, do heaven and earth touch. We all need to learn the lesson that here, in the prosaic commonplaces of life, Jesus Christ is the present and immediate answer to every need.

Christ always needed faith in some one, as the fulcrum on which to rest the lever of His mighty power, and He found it in Martha. What can He not do, even here and now, in the hearts of those who are slow to believe, and those who are dead in trespasses and sins? Believest thou this?

From the April 19th entry:

This chapter might be more truly known as “The Raising of Martha,” for our Lord enabled her, matter-of-fact and practical as she was, to realize that He was the Resurrection and the Life. He insisted that her faith was an essential condition in the raising of her brother to life. The emphasis is on the word “thou” (Jn11:40). Our Lord always needs the co-operating faith of some true heart to be with Him when He works a miracle, and He chose the least likely of the two sisters to supply the pivot on which He could rest the lever of His Divine help. As she withdrew her objection to the removal of the stone, her faith suddenly became capable of claiming the greatest of Christ’s miracles.

You see that the entries are strikingly similar; what is more striking is the way I discovered the similarity. It was as a matter of course that I read the first one on January 12. I “happened upon” the second one when, having closed the book after reading the first one, and, still thinking on what I had just read, I absent-mindedly ran my thumb across the page ends and opened the book again. Lo and behold: the April 19th entry. I began reading, and… this is more than a coincidence! Suddenly I realized my Lord was speaking to me. And I knew what He was speaking to me about.

This is what He was, and still is, speaking to me about.

F.B. Meyer says rightly that “our Lord always needs the co-operating faith of some true heart to be with Him when He works a miracle…” Of course He is able to do whatever He wants, but it is not His desire to grant or impart anything to anyone arbitrarily; he desires our consent, our cooperation, our fellowship, in all He says and does. And so Meyer says that the story of the awakening of Lazarus from sleep could well be called the awakening of Martha. For Christ awakened Martha from her sleepy faith in the last-day resurrection to the living faith that “the resurrection and the life” was standing right before her eyes. “Believest thou this?” He asked.  “Yea Lord,” she responded, “I believe that Thou art the Christ which should come into the world.” Perhaps she did not fully comprehend what He had just said to her, but she believed in Him.

The raising of Lazarus was truly a manifestation of great power; as Meyer has said, it was perhaps the greatest work of power that Jesus ever did while on earth. Let me tell you of another resurrection which is by far the greater miracle. In his epistle to the Ephesians Paul says that God displayed the exceeding greatness of His power when He raised up Jesus from the dead. How much power was that? I think it was all of it, if that can be said. But I’ve left out some words here. Let’s fill them in. In Ephesians Paul prays that the eyes of our heart may be enlightened by the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Christ, to the intent that we may know:

          1) the hope of His calling;

          2) the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints;

          3) the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe

          There. The words I left out. Paul declares that the same power by which God raised Christ from the dead is the power that works in us who believe. And so here we have our Lord seeking to awaken faith in you and me as He did with Martha of old. Do we believe this? The power of God toward us who believe is according to the working of the strength of His might which He wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenlies… and we will just stop midstream in the rushing current of this sentence to quote Bible scholar F.F. Bruce on the passage:

                    The third thing which the apostle desires his readers to know is the power of God. But when he thinks of the power of God, he presses all the terms for power in his vocabulary into service in order to convey something of its all-surpassing character… . He piles synonym on synonym as he describes how God’s ‘power’ (dynamis) operates according to the inworking (energeia) of the strength (kratos) of His might (ischys)… . (F.F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Ephesians)

That same power—yes, the same power that God wrought when He raised Christ from the dead—is working, is at work, in us who believe. This is why F.B. Meyer’s words laid hold of me. Here they are again:

               Christ always needed faith in some one, as the fulcrum on which to rest the lever of His mighty power, and He found it in Martha. What can He not do, even here and now, in the hearts of those who are slow to believe, and those who are dead in trespasses and sins? Believest thou this?

What is He able to do in the hearts of those dead in trespasses and sins? Let us not be slow to believe. He is able to quicken them together with Christ so that they are no longer dead in trespasses and sins, but alive unto God. This—the miracle of regeneration—is the very resurrection life of Jesus Christ Himself in those who believe in Him and have received His Spirit. Indeed, this is the greatest of all miracles, and comes to the one whose heart is prepared by faith.

And this is just the beginning of a life that has no end. To be born from above by the Spirit of God means the beginning of a new life on resurrection ground, a step-by-step walk in which God is able to do exceeding abundantly above all we can ask or even think according to this power working in us (Eph. 3:20). We are empowered to walk with Christ “in newness of life,” His own resurrection life, completely free from sin (Rom. 6:4).

Believest thou this? (Believe is the verb; faith is the noun.) I want to emphasize that word because when the regenerating Spirit comes in Christ’s baptism—baptism in Holy Spirit—faith must continually reach out and apprehend the implications of this baptism. It is possible to be baptized in Holy Spirit and still lack knowledge as to what this baptism includes. It is possible even when the knowledge comes by revelation, to still lack faith to receive it. “Know ye not…” Paul asked the Romans. (Is it not likely that the Holy Spirit had you and me in mind when Paul was inspired to write that?)  “Know ye not that so many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?”

What kind of death is that? Death to sin. “In that He died, He died unto sin once…”

“…But in that He liveth He liveth unto God” (Rom. 6:10).

Wonderful for Him, you say. But the whole purpose of the Christ, to the glory of God, is that this might be wonderful in you and me as well. And He has the provision and power to make it so. Paul continues that we who are in Christ are to account ourselves dead indeed unto sin and alive unto God. “Likewise,” he says, “reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin but alive unto God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:11).

You say you are in Christ but this is not true of you, your experience is just the opposite, and you are still waiting for God to do this in you? But have you seen this, have you received the revelation? If so, are you sure your problem is not one of unbelief? For this is true of those in Christ.

“Now, if we died with Christ, we believe (there’s that word again) that we shall also live with him…” (Rom. 8:8).

We, like Martha

The point I am making is that we, like Martha before she was awakened to faith, are prone to put this life some distance into the future when a mighty move of the Spirit shall  take place, and then we shall begin to walk in this beautiful resurrection life. God has grace, the provision for those who hear and believe, to begin walking in it now. Jesus continues to say, “I am the resurrection and the life.” I realize that we may not hear this livingly merely by reading it in our Bible. Let us open our hearts then, willing to receive. When Christ by His Spirit speaks the living word to us, “the word of His grace,” let us be ready to embrace, to believe that word, in spite of present experience. When revelation comes our part is to believe on the basis of the word of God—not our experience.

Sometimes you may find yourself in a vein of revelation and it is wonderful. But I find often that revelation comes with the sudden flash of illumination, the “quickening ray” from the eye of the Lord that Wesley described:

Long my imprisoned spirit lay
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray,
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

We know the wonder, the ecstasy, the rapture, of revelation, that it opens the mind to truth we did not know existed. And we rejoice in it. Yet revelation can be devastating. Have you had that experience? Revelation, when received, breaks up the long-set concrete of darkness in the mind, it looses the bonds and hindrances of the flesh—self pity, moroseness, defeatedness, doubt, congenital unbelief, “nature’s night,” as Wesley called it. “For ye were once darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord…”

When are we light in the Lord? Now, says the apostle.  

          Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light (Eph. 5:14)

Let us awaken, then, and be loosed from our bonds and our grave clothes!  

          Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city… Shake thyself from the dust; arise, and sit down, O Jerusalem: loose thyself from the bonds of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion (Isa. 52:1,2).

“Arise, and sit down…” For God has “raised us up together, and seated us together in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus…” (Eph. 2:6). Believest thou this?

Let us cooperate with God, then. When the word of His grace comes to us, however it comes, as devastating as it may be, as impossible as it may be, let the response of our heart be, Amen. I receive this, I believe you. Your word works effectually in the one who believes. And the bonds of darkness, of death, fall off; we rise to walk with Christ in newness of life.  Amen.

I Am The Resurrection

I have a hard copy of a devotional by F.B. Meyer called Our Daily Walk, which I “happened upon” in a Mennonite second-hand store some time ago. I’m sorry to say it continued to lay neglected in a cardboard box in my study for a long while. But this year, casting about for a new devotional to go through, I was reminded of this book after a recommendation of F.B. Meyer’s writings on Ron Bailey’s blog (which you may enjoy at http://biblebase.com/a-the-baptist/). So I retrieved the book from its box and have been greatly appreciating it. It looks like I have discovered F.B. Meyer.

This morning I was quite struck with the January 12th entry. After I closed the book, still thinking, I ran my thumb over it, and opened it again. It was the April 19th entry.  Are you trying to say something to me, Lord?

Here are three excerpts:

“We are always putting the manifestation of the Divine in the far past, or the far future… Jesus Christ is the present and immediate answer to every need.”

“Christ always needed faith in some one, as the fulcrum on which to rest the lever of His mighty power…”

“In many cases those who have received life from Christ are still bound about with grave-clothes…”

Here are the two entries copied from Precept Austin: https://www.preceptaustin.org/our_daily_walk_by_f_b_meyer_-_jan

January 12

CHRIST’S TEACHING ABOUT RESURRECTION

“Jesus said unto her, I am the Resurrection and the Life: he that believeth on Me, though he die, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth on Me shall never die. Believest thou this? She saith unto Him, Yea, Lord!”– Jn 11:25-27.

THIS CROWNING miracle of our Lord’s life is generally described as the Raising of Lazarus. I am not sure that it might not with equal truth be called the Awakening of Martha, for it is certain that the Lord lifted this soul, whom we have been wont to count prosaic and matter-of-fact, to a most remarkable elevation of faith and hope, as they stood together in the shadow of a great sorrow.

In common with the majority of religious people, Martha believed in a general resurrection at some still future date, but she had not realised that God lives in the present tense, that the Eternal is here and now, and that faith must learn to reckon on God’s I AM. We are always putting the manifestation of the Divine in the far past, or the far future. The heaven is high above the earth on which we stand; only at the horizon, behind us and before us, do heaven and earth touch. We all need to learn the lesson that here, in the prosaic commonplaces of life, Jesus Christ is the present and immediate answer to every need.

Christ’s teaching about Resurrection differs widely from immortality. Plato believed in the immortality of the soul, but had no conception of resurrection. Resurrection is the reunion of the soul with the body, when it shall be raised in a form identical with, though different from, the body laid in the grave, as the sheaf of corn is identical with, though different from, the seed-corn cast into the soil amid the tears of autumn.

Martha could hardly understand all these marvellous disclosures, but she answered Yea to them, on the ground of what she knew Christ to be. He at least was the Messiah, and whatsoever He said, it must be so. So it is that we may still accept much, that we cannot understand, on the bare word of Jesus.

Christ always needed faith in some one, as the fulcrum on which to rest the lever of His mighty power, and He found it in Martha. What can He not do, even here and now, in the hearts of those who are slow to believe, and those who are dead in trespasses and sins? Believest thou this?

PRAYER

O God of Life and Love, Thou hast filled our hearts with joy unspeakable. We thank Thee that Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life, and that those who believe in Him shall never die. He lives, and they live, and we live! We thank Thee, we praise Thee, we bless Thee. AMEN.

April 19

LOVE’S CONFIDENCE!

“His sisters sent unto Him saying, Lord, behold he whom Thou lovest is sick.”– Jn11:3.

THE LAPSE of years made it possible for the Apostle to draw aside the veil which curtained the happy friendship and fellowship of Christ in the home at Bethany. It was the one green oasis in the rugged wilderness through which He passed to the Cross!

There were diversities in that home, Martha, practical, energetic, and thoughtful for all that could affect the comfort of those she loved and served; Mary, gifted with spiritual insight and tender sympathy; Lazarus, probably a man of few words, quiet and unobtrusive, but Jesus loved each one (Jn11:5).

The sisters never doubted that Christ would speed at all hazards to save Lazarus after the breathless messenger had brought the tidings of his sickness. Anything less than infinite Love would have rushed instantly to the relief of those troubled hearts; Divine Love alone could hold back the impetuosity of the Saviour’s tender heart until the Angel of Pain had finished her work. He wanted to teach His disciples never-to-be-forgotten lessons, and also He was eager for the spiritual growth of the faith of the sisters.

This chapter might be more truly known as “The Raising of Martha,” for our Lord enabled her, matter-of-fact and practical as she was, to realize that He was the Resurrection and the Life. He insisted that her faith was an essential condition in the raising of her brother to life. The emphasis is on the word “thou” (Jn11:40). Our Lord always needs the co-operating faith of some true heart to be with Him when He works a miracle, and He chose the least likely of the two sisters to supply the pivot on which He could rest the lever of His Divine help. As she withdrew her objection to the removal of the stone, her faith suddenly became capable of claiming the greatest of Christ’s miracles.

He calls to us also to help our brethren. In many cases those who have received life from Christ are still bound about with grave-clothes, old habits and evil associations cling to them and impede their progress, and He bids us “Loose him and let him go.” He asks for our co-operation in the emancipation of those who have been held fast in the power of the Evil One.

PRAYER

O God, we rejoice that we can turn to Thee in the midst of great anxiety, and commit all our troubles to Thy sure help. As Thou art with us in the sunlight, be Thou with us in the cloud. Sustain us by Thy near presence and let the comforts which are in Jesus Christ fill our hearts with peace. AMEN. m

Generational Spirits?

The title’s question mark gives away my conviction concerning this popular teaching.

It’s too long a message for a blog entry, so I’ve put it on my Other Writings page.

Here’s how it begins:

Let me lead into this subject by sharing my personal experience with a fellowship that used the term “familiar spirit” to refer to evil spirits that (according to this fellowship) entrench themselves in the families of mankind. For example, if Grandpa and Uncle Bill and cousin Jack are alcoholics, this is the work of a “familiar spirit,” and inevitably the new generation will grow up and be victimized by the same. Or, if Great Grandma and Grandma and Dad have heart disease or Alzheimer’s, this is no doubt the work of a “familiar spirit.”

The elders of this fellowship would sometimes visit the fellowship I was part of, bringing this teaching with them—to the point that just about every sin and problem and sickness in our midst was credited to the evil working of familiar spirits. Prayer times were invariably filled with their loud declarations binding the familiar spirit in So and so, and the familiar spirit over Such and such a family, or breaking the curse of a familiar spirit over this one who was sick… and so on….

Those interested can read the full message here:  Generational Spirits?

 

Perseverance

The link below leads to a message titled Perseverance by Bill Sweeney.

Bill has been bed-ridden with ALS for 22 years. He is completely paralyzed, unable to speak, and communicates by means of a computer mouse that he controls with eye movements. Yet there is great grace in his life. I know where that comes from.

His wife Mary is his chief caregiver– a testimony in itself of great grace.

I urge my readers to partake of this message; there is much en-courage-ment here. Bill’s trial of deep affliction is yielding great wealth to the body of Christ, especially for those who themselves are going through deep waters. (Read the comments too; there’s much inspiration there.)

After I read this I was once again humbled by the realization of the many saints who are already gathered in the church in Heaven, and of others like Bill who will one day gather with them. Oh, the  testimonies of the triumph of our Lord Jesus Christ in the lives of countless saints! It leaves me absolutely awed. When it comes my turn to gather with them, I will want to slip in quietly, and take a seat at the back.

Perseverance

A Conversation With An Ant

This morning I was out beside my little garden enjoying another beautiful summer day while reading my favourite Book when I noticed an ant briskly making his way along the wooden border of the raised bed. He was carrying a morsel I couldn’t identify—something twice as large as himself—but even so was making good time as he headed toward an ant hill I’ve seen growing near my house.

I paused from my reading and, Bible in hand, knelt down and greeted my busy neighbour with a cheery, “Good morning.”

That stopped him; he turned toward me, antennae working back and forth to determine, I suppose, whether I were friend or foe. “Good morning to you as well,” he said politely if rather warily.

(I ask my readers to keep to yourselves, please, that I was conversing with an ant; if this gets in the wrongs ears… unless you want to share it with some little child; they have no problem with these things.)

I tilted my head back for a closer look at the ant through the lower lens of my bifocals. “That’s quite the load you’re carrying,” I ventured.

It was obvious he wasn’t inclined to idle long, for he said hurriedly, “Yes, but do you feel that touch in the air this morning? The summer’s going fast. We’ve got to bring in much more yet.”

“Ah, yes,” I said. “I’ve read about you in the Bible.”

“The Bible?” he queried.

“It’s a book that tells us humans about God’s eternal purposes in man—more specifically in a Man named Jesus Christ. Actually it’s the second Bible God gave us. You—and the rest of the natural creation—are the first.”

“Really?” the ant said, laying his burden aside now. “I am a Bible?”

“Yes,” I said. “The whole creation is. In our Bible in Proverbs—those are sayings a very wise man wrote long ago—it talks of four things in the creation that are little but are exceedingly wise. It lists you first. It says—here, let me read it.” I leafed through the pages of my Bible till I found the passage in Proverbs Chapter 30.

“‘The ants are a people…’”

“I like your Bible,” he broke in cheerily. “A people. Yes. Everything we do, we do not for ourselves but for the good of all of us.”

I looked up awestruck. So little a creature with so large a thought. Let me ever be small enough to be the student of an ant.

After a moment I continued reading, “‘The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their food in summer.’”

His cheerful face turned suddenly solemn. “Indeed we do,” he said. “We know what’s coming.”

“Tell me,” I said, now leaning down on my elbows to get right close to him.

“You don’t know?” he asked, leaning toward me too. “There’s coming a time of great cold. And great, great desolation. We ants, we know we can’t survive that kind of thing; we’re not very strong. So we take advantage of the warm summer days to prepare for it. Look at all the food around us… now.”

I nodded. “I see that you are wise indeed. And now that I think of it, the wise man who wrote those proverbs mentioned something else about you in another place. Let me see if I can find it.” I leafed through the pages till I found the place. “Ah, here it is. Proverbs Chapter 6 verse 6. ‘Go to the ant, thou sluggard: consider her ways, and be wise: which have no guide, nor overseer, nor ruler, provideth her meat in summer, and gathereth her food in harvest.’ So you are not only wise, but industrious—and that without some boss or leader telling you what to do, which in itself is more than amazing.”

“To God be the glory,” he responded, “it seems my leader is built right into me.” And with that he gripped his load and was off again. “Good-bye,” I called with a little wave, and at that he called back, “Good-bye. Have a nice summer… what’s left of it.”

A little distance away he looked back over his shoulder. “And a nice winter too.”

I watched him hasten away till I could see him no longer. Was there a note of foreboding in his last words? Is the abundant spiritual summer we’ve enjoyed in our land for so long about run out? Am I in my weakness—and wisdom—and diligence—securing a Source of spiritual provision and strength for the desolate days ahead?

Or am I the proverbial grasshopper in the ancient fable who fiddled away the glorious summer days while the ant prepared for what was coming?

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