A DISCOVERY, NOT AN ATTAINMENT
AGAIN I want to make the fact clear that, just as it was before, what had come to me now was a discovery, and in no sense an attainment. I had not become a better woman than I was before, but I had found out that Christ was a better Saviour than I had thought He was. I was not one bit more able to conquer my temptations than I had been in the past, but I had discovered that He was able and willing to conquer them for me. I had no more wisdom or righteousness of my own than I had ever had, but I had found out that He could really and actually be made unto me, as the Apostle declared He would be, wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.
I shall never forget the first time this declaration was proved to me to be, not only a pious saying, but a downright fact. Shortly after I had come to know something of the fullness of Christ’s salvation, an occasion arose in my life when I realized that I should have need of a very large amount of patience. An individual, who was especially antagonistic to me, was coming to spend two weeks at our house. She had always in the past been very provoking and irritating, and I felt, as the day drew near for her arrival, that, if I was to behave to her in a really Christlike way, I should need a far greater supply of patience than I usually possessed. As I was still new in the way of faith, I supposed I could only secure a sufficient supply by wrestling for it in prayer, and I decided, as my days were very busy ones, to devote a whole night before her arrival to the wrestling necessary to secure enough patience to last me throughout the two weeks of her stay. Therefore one night, after the rest of the family had retired, I shut myself up in my room, taking with me a plate of biscuits, which I had provided in case I should be hungry; and, kneeling down by my bed, I prepared myself for an all night conflict. I confess I felt rather like a martyr, for I had always found long times of prayer very fatiguing; but a stock of patience was a necessity, and I supposed this was the only way to get it. I seemed to picture it to myself something as if a great lump of patience was to be let down into my heart, from which I could break off a bit to use whenever the need should arise. But scarcely had my knees touched the floor when, like a flash, there came into my mind the declaration to which I have referred, “But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption; that, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let Him glory in the Lord.” “Yes,” I exclaimed inwardly, “and of course patience as well!” And I rose at once from my knees, with an absolute conviction that I did not in the least need, as I had thought, to lay in a big stock of patience to use during my friend’s visit, but that I could simply, as the occasion arose, look to the Lord for a present supply for my present need. I seemed to see Christ as a great storehouse of supplies, from which I could draw whatever grace or strength I required; and I realized that it was utter folly for me to try and carry about with me stocks of grace, as it were in packages in my pocket, which, even if I could secure them, would be sure to be mislaid just when I needed them most.
It followed as a matter of course, that my faith was fully answered; and, although my friend was more aggravating than ever, the necessary patience was always supplied at every moment of her stay. And, what was even better than this especial deliverance, I had learned the magnificent fact that the inexhaustible storehouse of God’s supplies lies always open to the needs and claims of His children. My patience in this case might be called an attainment by some, but I had not attained it, I had simply discovered a supply of patience in the Divine Storehouse, and by faith I had taken possession hour by hour of what that hour required.
When reduced to its final analysis, the discovery I had made was simply this, that there was stored up for me in Christ a perfect supply for all my needs, and that faith and faith only was the channel through which this supply could flow; that struggling, and wrestling, and worrying, and agonizing, cannot bring this supply, but that faith always will and always does. This seems a very simple discovery to have made, and one would suppose every child of God, who reads the Bible and believes it, would necessarily know it. But I for one did not know it, even after nine years of careful Bible study, and of earnest Christian striving, and when I did at last discover it, it revolutionized my life.
There was no mystery about it. It was not something added on to the gospel story, but was only the real meaning of the Gospel. Christ came, according to the Bible, to accomplish certain purposes; and the discovery I had made was simply that He might be depended on actually to accomplish these purposes. It goes without saying that, if this is the fact, then those who want these purposes accomplished, should hand them over to the One who has undertaken to do it; and to me this seemed then, and has seemed ever since, not any especial religious attainment, but only good sound ordinary common sense.
When I call in a builder to build me a house, I do so because he knows how to build, and is able to accomplish it, while I neither know how nor am able. But I do not consider the fact of my putting the work into his hands as an attainment on my part, but only as a common-sense arrangement. If I am puzzled how to cross a roaring river, and discover a bridge, I do not call my action in crossing that bridge an attainment, but simply and only a most common-sense proceeding.
Consequently it always seems to me much nearer the truth to use the word gifts rather than the word attainments. Attainments imply work and effort on our part, and Christian graces are all a free gift from God. Those who are to “reign in life” are not those who attain to great heights of piety, but those who “receive abundance of grace, and of the gift of righteousness.” He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? “Therefore let no man glory in men; for all things are yours; whether Paul or Apollos, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours and ye are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.” To find out that all things are really ours, is not an attainment but a magnificent discovery, and the soul that makes it, would be amazingly lacking in common sense not to take possession of everything it needs.
It would take the pen of an angel to tell all that this discovery meant to me. But suffice it to say that life was transformed, and that where failure and defeat reigned before, victory and triumph became, whenever I chose to lay hold of them by faith, my daily and hourly portion. I was no longer the “slave of sin,” compelled whether I would or no to obey it, but had entered into the “liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free,” and did not need to be “entangled again with the old yoke of bondage.” I thought I was happy before, but my happiness now was such as could not be described in words, and it often seemed to me that even Heaven itself could hardly have more to offer. But my joy was joy in the Lord, and not joy in myself, nor in any attainments of my own, for I had none. I understood what the prophet meant when he said, “Thus saith the Lord, let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might; let not the rich man glory in his riches: but let him that glorieth glory in this that he understandeth and knoweth Me, that I am the Lord which exercise loving kindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth; for in these things I delight, said the Lord.”
I had no wisdom, nor might, nor riches to glory in, but I was learning to know the Lord, and in Him I could glory with all my heart.
“Where is boasting then?” asks the Apostle. And he answers in words that now at last I understood, “It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay but by the law of faith.” How can the soul boast of its attainments, when it has none; and how can it fail to make its boast in the Lord when He so freely bestows upon it the supply for all its needs? “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.” “For they got not the land in possession by their own sword, neither did their own arm save them; but thy right hand, and thine arm, and the light of thy countenance, because thou hadst a favour unto them.”
This was my experience, and with all my heart I could unite in the words of the Psalmist—“In God we boast all the day long, and praise Thy Name forever!”
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