Editor's Letters

by T. Austin-Sparks

October 1927

Beloved of our Lord,

It is His great desire to lead us beside the waters of quietness, if He can only get us to be still.

This is His great difficulty with us, for we have to confess that our nature is yet that of somewhat stupid sheep, prone to go our own way, and thus missing so much that He would lead us into. But then He must lead! And are we not so restless, speculative, adventurous, yes, clever in an uncharted region, where none can travel without the Pillar going ahead?

The confession at the head of this so familiar psalm is a revelation of God in a new character and relationship, - "Jehovah, my Shepherd!" It is an exclamation of faith the works of which must immediately follow. He does not become our Shepherd until we have seen Him as such, and so confess Him, yielding up to Him all direction and leadership. The stubbornness and foolishness of our flesh, so self-confident, our haughtiness and pride (often concealed from our own hearts) take the direction out of His Hands; and then we wonder why our souls find such arid places, such tumults and distresses. Yes, but it is we who have found these. He would never have led us into such plights. And how tenderly He extricates us from them when we have learned our lesson, and understand that it is HE Who is the Shepherd!

We are speaking of our inward life. In the outer realm of circumstance and happening there must perforce be storm. Did He not say, "In the world ye shall have tribulation?" But He had prefaced the prophecy of this conflict with many words of comfort that "in Me ye might have peace." This is the order, - peace first, battle afterwards, and out of that peace.

So He would lead our inner man, our spirit, into still places where the River of the Water of Life flows deeply and tranquilly, until in communion with God in Father and in Son by One Spirit, our restlessness and fever are all abated, and we are content to be with Him where He is in the Bosom of the Father. Worship, fellowship; these God seeks first, and not our service.

Thus He causes all self-activity to cease, making us to lie down (for like silly sheep we would never lie down of ourselves) amid pastures of tender grass. True inward rest in God! The waters follow, they are waters of Life, not of passivity; and so our souls are restored to vigour and to health. The places of rest are the places of recovery.

And then there follow those true and fruitful activities of spiritual progress and service, - He leads in the paths of righteousness for His Name's sake. No Name but His is now glorified. His Name is Jesus; but as we now say, "Jesus!" are we not truly saying, "Jehovah, my Shepherd!"

And though we have not yet entered into the unveiled Glory, still walking by faith and not by sight, yet it becomes true of us also - "Therefore are they before the Throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple; and He Who sits upon the Throne shall tabernacle over them. They shall not hunger any more, neither shall they thirst any more.... because the Lamb which is in the midst of the Throne shall shepherd them, and will lead them to living fountains of waters." Alpha and Omega, the Lord our Shepherd!

Yours in the following of His steps,
T. Austin-Sparks
T. Madoc-Jeffreys.

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