A Field Without Springs
"Oh, my father, you have given me a south land — give me also springs of water."
Caleb had given a piece of land to his daughter Acsah, as her marriage portion. When she looked at it she discovered that it lacked one very important thing. It was, doubtless, a rich land, and a goodly marriage portion. It may have been beautiful, valuable, and in many ways desirable; it may have had rich treasures of gold hidden away in the bosom of its hills and mountains; but with all these excellencies and advantages, it lacked one thing, and that one thing was vital. It had no springs of water; and as good and desirable as it was, it needed these springs of water to convert it into a real blessing.
And I see here a picture of every earthly lot which is not watered by the springs of divine grace. The very best portion of this earth, is a field without springs of water. It may be very beautiful, very rich, very honorable. It may be a possession in which gold and silver are hidden. It may be a palace to live in, and a crown to wear. It may possess every comfort and every luxury that earth can afford. But he who has nothing but this world for a portion — has a very poor portion at the best. It lies exposed to the heat of fiery trials. It slopes off toward the burning desert of sorrows. The hot blasts of adversity blow over it, withering its beauties and blighting its joys.
Did you ever see a human heart that was satisfied with this world alone? Did you ever see a mere earthly portion that lacked nothing; that possessed in itself every spring of comfort, blessing, and joy that a heart needs; that made its possessor completely happy; and that met all the hungerings of his nature, and fully answered all the wants and cravings of his soul?
It is very sweet to be reared up and to dwell in a happy home, in the midst of tender human loves. Earth has no such palaces, as those which affection builds. But if no springs of divine love pour their sweetness into the life — then its joys do not fill the heart, and will not last always.
A mother spoke to me in glowing words of her daughter's enviable marriage; of her husband's great wealth and distinction among men; of her costly presents; of her elegant wardrobe; of her beautiful new home, with all its rich furniture; of the fine society into which she had entered.
But there were no springs of water in her goodly portion. Neither she nor her husband, had learned the way to the fountains of heavenly joy. No family altar sanctified their home. No voice of prayer went up out of those richly-furnished chambers, to God. No ladder with its ascending and descending angels stood on their threshold. No streams from Heaven's holy mountains flowed amid their earthly joys. They were without God in the world.
A young man spoke of his brilliant prospects, of his great success, of his wonderful achievements, of his many friends — and drew a golden picture of the future that was opening its doors to him. But his portion was like Acsah's, "a south land" with no springs of water. He was not savingly joined to Christ. His field was not irrigated and blessed by never-failing streams from the mountains of God. He had cut himself off from the springs of divine comfort and blessing. His pleasant field was only a desert.
A worldly portion may bring a sort of satisfaction for a time, while the bright days of prosperity continue, and while it is not smitten by the hot winds of adversity. But how is it when trouble comes? Will the richest earthly portion console the man who stands over the coffin of his dead? When the heart is overwhelmed with anguish because of guilt and remorse — will houses, lands, honors, and earthly pleasures give peace? What bitter, idle mockeries these things are in such an hour!
A traveler in the desert, famished with hunger, saw a bag half-buried in the sand, which seemed to contain dates. "Thank God! here is bread!" he cried, in wild joy. Tearing it open he found no food. It was a bag of pearls which someone had lost, a great fortune — but only a mockery to a starving, dying man who wanted bread.
In the same way, when a soul is crying out in the agony of guilt, in the bitterness of a great sorrow, or in the anguish of eternal dying — what terrible mockeries are the very choicest of this world's rich and beautiful things! They will not give comfort. They will not bring peace. They will not bridge over the gloomy chasm of death. They will not illumine the darkness of the grave. They will not cover over the hideous stains of sin. They will not put out the fires of remorse. They will not reach over into the eternal world.
The most worldly men often try to find the comforts of religion, in the time of sore trial. Even the profane man and the scoffer, want Christ when they come to die. An infidel on shipboard scoffed in the calm and sunshine, caricatured religion, and ridiculed its blessed hopes and promises. But the sea arose, the waves swept over the deck, and death seemed imminent; and then he fell down on his knees and began to cry out, "O God! what shall I do?" His infidelity was good only in the calm — and went crashing down in the storm. The unbeliever's joy will not live through perils and tempests. The infidel's creed is not good to trust in, when danger is near. It is a poor thing to die by.
If this world is a man's only portion — then it is a miserable one. It has no springs of comfort for his sorrow hours. It has no rod and staff for him when he enters the lonely valley. It lifts up no cross to pour its light and love upon his bed of death. It sends him to a judgment where no divine Intercessor pleads; and into an eternity darkened by the guilt of a wasted, sinful life, and cheered by no hope of coming deliverance.
Look about, dear reader, over your field — and see if it has springs of water. Do streams of heavenly blessing flow through it? Does your soul draw its life from the mountain-streams of Heaven — or are you depending only upon earth's poor, broken and empty cisterns? Are you content with a mere earthly portion? Does it meet the deep cravings of your heart? Has it anything for your hours of trial? Will it do in death? Is it enough for the eternal future? If we discover that our portion is only a field, exposed to hot winds and burning sun, and with no heavenly springs — then should not Acsah's prayer be ours, "Oh, my father, you have given me a south land — give me also springs of water."