Turning Northward # 5
Paul was growing old, when he spoke of forgetting things behind and reaching forth to things before. His best was yet to be attained. So it should always be with Christian old age. We must ever be turning northward, toward fuller life and holier beauty. This can be the story of our experience, only if our life is hid with Christ in God. Torn away from Christ, no life can keep its zest or its radiance.
Another phase of this call as it comes to us in life's quiet days, is to increased activity. We cannot fulfill our Master's requirement for us as Christians, unless we are ready for self-forgetful devotion to service. A birthday or the beginning of a new year is a most fitting time for renewed interest in Christian work. "You have circled this mountain long enough." That is, you have been going through the old rounds, living the old way, long enough. Is any one of us satisfied with the measure of work we have done for Christ during the past year, for example? "To each one his own work," is the rule of the kingdom. The work of the church is not meant to be done by a few rare souls merely. Some portion of it is to be done by each one, and that portion is not transferable. No one can do your work for you, for each one has enough of his own to fill his hands. No one can get any other person to do his allotted task for him. All anyone can do, is his own little part.
Are there any of us who have done nothing? We need not press the question for the past, for what has not been done in its time, cannot be done now. The hands that have been idle through a past year, can do nothing in the new year to make up the lack. If you have left a blank where there ought to have been beautiful work done - there can be only a blank there forever. You cannot fill it now. Toil as you will any new year, you cannot make the year you left empty, anything but empty. We cannot go back over our life, and do omitted or neglected duties.
Shall we not cease going around and around in the same little grooves, and turn northward, with our faces toward God and Heaven? Our Master is not exacting, does not require of us what we cannot do. All expected of anyone is his part - what he can do. No one is required to do the work of the whole world - but everyone is required to be faithful in his own place. All that the Lord requires of us is faithfulness to that which He has called us to do.
We get into the habit of talking about Christian life and work, as if it were something altogether apart from common work, the work we do on our business days. But if we are living as we should, then everything we are called to do, is work for Christ. We need heavenly grace for our secular tasks and duties - quite as much as for our Christian services and occupations.
It is said that at a certain moment of the night, a man in the Lick Observatory, California, lying upon his back, looks out through the great telescope and waits for a certain star to cross a fine line made by the tiny thread of a spider's web drawn across the telescope. This indicates the time, and from this indication the great clock is set. Thus a star from Heaven directs the movements of all the railway trains, all shops and factories, all business of every kind in all the vast region.
In the same way, we are to get light from Heaven for all our life on earth, not only for our worship, our religious activities, our Christian service, but for our business affairs, our amusements, all our tasks and duties, our home matters, our plans and pleasures. The light of the star regulates everything. The smallest things in our lives should get their inspiration from Heaven. All of life should follow the star. Thus we are ever being called to a new life - a holier life, greater activity, and better service.
"You have circled this mountain long enough. Turn northward!" Break away from the routine. Do not keep on doing just what you have been doing heretofore. Do not be content to go over the same old rounds. Turn northward - start in new lines, with your face toward God. Do larger things than you have done heretofore. Pray more fervently. Love better, more sweetly, more helpfully. Live where Heaven will break into your soul. Let Christ have all your life. Do not merely go around the mountain's base - climb up its side! Every time you circle it, gain a little higher range, get nearer Heaven, nearer God.
We never should forget with what sympathy God looks down upon us continually. God is not a hard master. He knows how frail we are. He remembers that we are dust. Therefore He is patient with us. He judges us graciously. If we try to do our best, though we seem to fail, marring our work - He understands and praises whatever we have done. With such a master, we should never lose heart, never grow discouraged, never become depressed, never let gloom or bitterness into our heart - but should always keep brave, hopeful, sweet, forgetting the past and straining forward, knowing that no life which is true to its best, can ever fail!
~J. R. Miller~