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Wednesday, April 1, 2009


J. Grant Swank, Jr.

God invites us to enter into one of the most spectacular lives possible. It is living just a bit lower than the angels; that is wonderful, considering the spiritually distraught world we live in.

What is this glorious possibility? It is on-going holiness. Our powerful God made it possible for us to experience release from self-centeredness so as to live in outlandish freedom, doing His bidding lovingly. This is astoundingly Good News--the gospel. It is God's invitation to holiness.

Jesus calls me; I must follow,
Follow Him today.
When His tender voice is pleading,
How can I delay?

Follow, I will follow Thee, my Lord,
Follow every passing day.
My tomorrows are all known to Thee;
Thou wilt lead me all the way.

So testified Howard L. Brown and Margaret W. Brown in that well-known
commitment hymn.

How then do we get started in teaching our families about this way?

(1) We begin by telling God that we adore Him, love Him supremely, wanting nothing more than increased knowledge of Him. By looking into His gentle face, WE HAND HIM EVERYTHING--not out of coercion but gladly. More than gladly, gushingly, actually pushing our all upon His heart, begging Him to take it for His goodness.

What a thought to dawn upon our weary brains. It is coming to realize that God truly deserves this. Instead of our holding back our turf while still trying to be religious, we now fling our everything toward Him, more than willing for Him to have it, cleanse it and then give it back for service rather than selfishness.

And so we sing with all of our hearts:

Search me, O God, and know my heart today.
Try me, O Savior; know my thoughts, I pray.
See if there be some wicked way in me;
Cleanse me from EVERY sin, and set me free.

Lord, take my life and make it wholly Thine;
Fill my poor heart with Thy great love divine.
Take all my will, my passion, self, and pride.
I now surrender, Lord, in me abide.

(2) Our gracious Lord responds. Does He ever respond!

He made us for this very point in our lives. This was His original intention for us as human creatures. He desperately wants children who love Him totally as He loves us totally. It was that dreadful mess-up in Eden which got things off track.
However, when the Father sees one of His own trek back to Eden, determined to embrace Him and be embraced by Him, then heaven's hug takes over. "Oh, how He loves you and me!"

IN THAT CARESS COMES OUR CLEANSING FROM THAT DREADFUL SELFISHNESS. How we have wanted that to go, to drop off; it has been our bane for too long.

Is this truly possible--personally, practically? Yes! "Nothing shall be impossible unto you" (Matthew l7:20).

"IT IS POSSIBLE, for those who really are willing to reckon on the power of the Lord for keeping and victory, to lead a life in which His promises are taken as they stand and are found to be true.

"IT IS POSSIBLE to have the thoughts and imaginations of our hearts purified, in the deepest meaning of the word.

"IT IS POSSIBLE to cast all our care upon Him daily and to enjoy deep peace in doing it." So sang H. C. G. Moule.

How compassionate is God! How providing for His own who hunger and thirst for holiness. What gifts from glory He has prepared for such souls.

He will silently plan for thee
Some wonderful surprise of love.
Eye hath not seen, not ear hath heard,
But it is kept for thee above.

Such was the praise hymn of Mary Grimes as she came upon the holy love gift from her Father in heaven.

(3) Then having begun at heaven's love feast, would we ever want to go back? Having been folded in by the Lord's endearing arms, would we ever desire any other boundary? Surely not.

This is the start of on-going holiness. It is that grand entrance into the awareness of the consecration. WE PICTURE OURSELVES STRETCHED OUT UPON GOD'S ALTAR, YIELDING OUR ALL FOR THE SACRIFICE OF LIVING.

As Mrs. Charles Cowman has witnessed: "This is the Blessed Life--not anxious to see far in front, not careful about the next step, not eager to choose the path, nor weighted with the heavy responsibilities of the future, but quietly following behind the Shepherd, one step at a time."

With a world that is dying prostrate before the world's idols, we yearn to climb atop God's table for His holy blessing. So it is He receives us home to His heart.

(4) ALL THAT IS AHEAD IS SIMPLY MORE OF THIS SPLENDOR AS WE CONTINUE TO HEED HIS NOD. Father informs us to do this, we do it. He asks us to do that, we gladly do it.

As saintly Brother Lawrence of the l7th century exclaimed: "Let God do what He pleases with me; I desire only Him and to be wholly devoted to Him. The soul that enjoys God desires nothing but Him. If this be delusion in me, it belongs to God to remedy it!"

Our soul hunger then becomes extremely simple; it is more of His holiness, exploring those marvelous caverns of discovery, deepening and delight. It is permitting the Spirit to have His complete way in all things.

As J. Danson Smith has exclaimed:

HE GOES BEFORE! Be this my consolation!
He goes before! On this my heart would dwell!
He goes before! This guarantees salvation!
HE GOES BEFORE! And therefore all is well!

Once in a while, however, the old yen may get hold of us. It is that urge to look back, perhaps only for a second or two. "The good life," we once called it. Yet we have come to know its toys tarnish, its fads fade and its baits leave us hanging on the hook. In our best of desires, we know there is no going back.

(5) We used to fret over bills, salary promotions, vying at the work place. We stumbled over the tiniest pebble. We yanked to right and left to press our own plans, then pouted when we did not get our ways. We held the Bible in hand, yet held our own ambitions more dearly.

What a trying time that used to be. We will be done with that tripping and falling, that spiritual double-mindedness.

The sanctified believers take hands off of life's control--past, present and future. Existence itself is to be consumed by the holy God. Double-mindedness yields to single-mindedness. God. God. God.

As Francois de la Fenelon counseled: "Smite, or heal, depress me, or raise me up; I adore all Thy purposes without knowing them; I am silent; I offer myself to sacrifice; I yield myself to Thee; I would have no other desire than to accomplish Thy will."

"THY will". GOD'S will. HEAVEN'S way. ETERNITY'S dominance of my very being--all of it, now and forever.

Oswald Chambers wrote: "'Take no thought for your life.' 'Be careful about one thing only,' says our Lord, 'your relationship to Me.' Common sense shouts loud and says--'That's absurd. I MUST consider how I am going to live. I MUST consider what I am going to eat and drink.' Jesus says you must not."

With this, God has taken us by the hand, leading us into liberty. It is the pure air we now breathe, the clean, high mountain yielding to His pastures. This does not mean that all is rosy, without problems and frustrations; but it does mean that THERE IS NO MORE ARGUMENT AS TO WHO IS IN CHARGE, WHO

Naturally there will be trials. LIfe is made up of them. We live in a spiritually fallen world. But God as Sanctifying Spirit is more powerful in you, purified one, than all the demons in this world.

So it was that Aphra White encouraged: "The time of testing that marks and mightily enriches a soul's spiritual career is no ordinary one, but a period when all hell seems let loose, a period when we realize our souls are brought into a net, when we know that God is permitting us to be in the devil's hand.

"But it is a period which always ends in certain triumph for those who have committed the keeping of their souls to Him, a period of marvelous 'nevertheless afterward' of abundant usefulness, the sixty-fold that surely follows."

Oswald Chambers tutors us in this sanctified way with. . ."Let the attitude of the life be a continual 'going out' in dependence upon God and your life will have an ineffable charm about it which is a satisfaction to Jesus."

(6) Our wallets, front yards and back yards, cars, houses, stock and bonds, our children and spouses, aches and pains are all stretched out there upon His table. We have given Him our bosses and neighbors, our relatives and health, our wardrobes and summer cottages. Our Sundays and Mondays, our nights and days, our parties and Friday night entertainments are all His.

What a wonderful way to wake up in the morning! Fulfilling! Exhilarating!
And to think that He has washed all of that life clean--holiness! Can it actually be that down-to-earth? Yes, it is meant to be that real--now and here!

As Brother Lawrence preached: "There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful than that of a continual conversation with God. The heart must be empty of all other things, because God will possess the heart alone; and as He cannot possess it alone without emptying it of all besides, so neither can He act there, and do in it what He pleases, unless it be LEFT VACANT TO HIM."
Vacant as a welcome to the purging Holy Spirit--now and here!

Come, Spirit, come--our hearts control;
Our spirits long to be made whole.
Let inward love guide every deed;
By this we worship, and are freed.

So wrote Hal Hopson, describing in choral phrasings the deep work of God upon the surrendered human spirit.

But what about differences of opinion? And then there are those people who are hard to live with. What about the doctor's report that I have cancer or the child who died in her crib?

There are also my feelings of inferiority and the twinges of prejudice which still linger from my childhood upbringing. How does holiness relate to all of that?
It relates to all of that. In time, God's continuing hug will help with those concerns--in time, with patience, in prayer, with insight.


(7) Can this kind of companionship with the Lord continue till death? It certainly can; and it should, if one is smart. After all, there are really no other options once a person has come into the "grand awareness." All else is tawdry.

"I would have faith to keep the path Christ trod," wrote Howard A. Walter.
"Every bridge is burned behind me; I will never turn from Thee," sang Johnson Oatman, Jr.

"Follow, follow, I will follow Jesus. Anywhere, everywhere, I will follow on. Follow, follow, I will follow Jesus. Everywhere He leads me I will follow on," penned William O. Cushing.

How we love to sing those gospel hymns. And yet how much more exciting to live out those gospel hymns--for life!

Earth's stay is fluid; that is, it is constantly being challenged. So is our consecration. Yet the loving, graced child determines to keep his walk simple in the Lord.

THE FOCUS REMAINS ON HIM, REGARDLESS. That is what some saints have referred to as "a foretaste of glory divine." And it really is that: the start of heaven here, in other words.

But, again, what about those troubles, problems, testings? What about sickness and death, disappointments and dreadful surprises?

What about all of that? Remember: all of that is surrendered to the Spirit of God, just as is all of life committed to heaven's eye. In that, God answers then with His comfort and wisdom, His peace and understanding of life's situations.

Hymn writer Fanny Crosby was blinded when a newborn. The incorrect prescription was given to her parents for their child's eye infection. Then being sightless, Fanny learned when a youth how to yield all to the sanctifying Spirit.
Listen to one of her early poems:

Oh, what a happy soul I am!
Although I cannot see,
I am resolved that in this world
Contented I will be.

How many blessings I enjoy
That other people don't!
To weep and sigh because I'm blind
I cannot nor I won't!

(8) How does one enrich God's on-going holiness? Lots of Bible helps a lot. Prayer to our compassionate God is a boon. Worship with people of like hunger strengthens.

Toughening it out in trying times is needful. Stepping by faith rather than sight is a part of it. Seeing so much that is good in God's world is broadening. Smiling, laughing, reaching out to care lifts one higher.

George Mueller testified: "'For I shall yet praise Him.' More prayer, more exercise of faith, more patient waiting, and the result will be blessing, abundant blessing."

In other words, sanctification is exploring the awesome might of God Himself. As Sidney Lanier has written in "The Marshes of Glynn". . .

As the marsh-hen secretly builds on the watery sod,
Behold I will build me a nest on the greatness of God:
I will fly in the greatness of God as the marsh-hen flies
In the freedom that fills all the space 'twixt the marsh and the skies;
By so many roots as the marsh-grass sends in the sod
I will heartily lay me a-hold on the greatness of God.

No wonder those who continue in this way become power lights in the darkness. They magnetize others around them. With so much that is self-centered in the world, these insightful believers draw us near to their selfgiving hearts.

And so it is meant by God to continue on out into His eternal wonder. How good of God!