Faith is the victory that
overcometh and "faith is the conviction of the reality of
things not seen."
If this is true then the secret
of victory is the capacity for and the deliberate persistence in
looking - not at things seen but at the "things not
seen." So it has always proved to be in the history and
experience of God's people. Paralysis, defeat, disaster have
always been consequent upon judgment after the sight of the eyes
(the eyes of the natural senses). Victory has always issued
sooner or later from someone's assurance of and discernment of
the Divine resources and realities behind all else.
How often this twofold issue
upon this one principle is seen in the scriptural record of the
experience of men. How often deliverance was because someone was
given spiritual and moral ascendency because in their close walk
with God their inner eyes refused the tyrany of their outer and
were given to a spontaneous "LOOKING OFF"! How
often the effect of the Divine admonition by which triumphant
emergence came was negatively "NOT AT THINGS SEEN," and
positively "BUT AT THE THINGS NOT SEEN." And when
"things" were hidden for faith's purifying, the
sum total of all the things was "HIM Who is invisible."
So when a deep sea lies ahead,
a ten times hardened and infuriated Pharoah and his host hotly
pursue, unnegotiable peaks rise on either side - a humanly
impossible situation - but the saving attitude is "Not at
the things seen, BUT" and what a "but"!
A land of promise, of
fulfilment, of realisation, the entering into the purpose of long
and painful preparation lies immediately before. But, as is so
often the case, one big final challenge to spirituality as
against carnality stands between an exodus and an eisodus.
Gigantic difficulties demonstrate before the senses and God waits
in the dim unseen.
Again the issue of going over
and in, or back and out rests upon a capacity to apprehend the
Supreme Asset, and the exhortation is again heard - "NOT AT
THE THINGS SEEN."
A prophet's servant who depends
upon another's spiritual perception and has none of his own will
see only the forces of earth beleaguering the city and will be
petrified with fear and paralysed with apprehensiveness, but the
prophet who has a firsthand fellowship with God sees the
mountains round about filled with "the chariots of Israel
and the horsemen thereof."
An apostle who has seen what
others have been blind to because of their grossness; and because
they do not know the Lord finds his supreme opportunity when all
else in the company are terrorised and in dismay because of
thing's seen - storm, tempest, havoc, darkness, threatening
destruction. Everything falls into his hands because his
resources begin where men's end and his confidence is not resting
in "the things seen" but in "the
things not seen."
Thus we might illustrate ad
libitum. Satan succeeds along a line which captures the
senses of body and soul, and many of God's sincerest children are
led away by an appeal thereto. God seeks His ends in and through
the spirit, deeper than feeling or seeing, deeper than sensation
or emotion or reason.
Satan is great at
God is great at hiding Himself,
in order that he may be sought out in spirit and in truth. If the
Church is a heavenly body, if the law of her life is faith, and
if the pilgrimage of faith is translation and transition from the
earthlies to the heavenlies, from the natural to the spiritual,
then surely we may expect that the nearer she comes to the end of
her journey the more acute will become the demand for spiritual
vision, discernment, and perception. The more will Satan seek
success by deception on the ground of the senses, and the more
will the Lord make the true life in Himself spiritual, divorced
from earthly proof, evidence, and gratification, one of the pure
essence of faith, looking "Not at the things seen," or
FOR things seen. The spirit of pilgrimage is that of
"strangers on the earth," and the sense of strangeness
and estrangement in the earthlies must necessarily increase even
to an agony of home-sickness for the things which are heavenly.
So we gather up the word;
victory, spiritual progress, and transcendant service lie in the
direction of a spiritual capacity to recognise, draw upon, and
rest in those Divine things unseen, but all inclusively
Take this motto word by word,
bit by bit.
"WHILE." - May it be
all the time, no lapses because we ceased to look away.
"WE LOOK." -
Deliberately, fixedly, in faith.
"NOT AT THE THINGS
SEEN." - Let this be a check, a warning, a rebuke, a
correction, in the hours of the seeming.
"BUT." - Every
adversity and difficulty may be very real, actual or threatening
- "But -".
"THE THINGS NOT
SEEN." - And perhaps the supreme reality, though so often
hidden from the natural consciousness - "Christ IN
"LOOKING OFF." - Oh,
for a trained and spontaneous gravitation of looking off - from -
First published in "A Witness and A Testimony"
magazine, Jan-Feb 1928, Vol 6-1