19. A GRACIOUS REMEMBRANCE
"How precious also are Your thoughts unto me, O God!"
I remember how eager you were to please Me as a young bride long ago, how you loved Me and followed Me even through the barren wilderness. Jeremiah 2:2
Backslider! listen to this Divine retrospect—a precious and encouraging 'thought' regarding your past. This may be the present sorrowful feeling and confession of your heart—"I am not what once I was. Once I loved my God. I can remember hallowed seasons of communion and fellowship, of which, alas! the memory is now all that remains. I once was enabled to live, somewhat, at least, under the sovereignty of that lofty motive, walking so as to please Him. But I have forsaken and forgotten my first love. I have to mourn over a treacherous, wandering heart. I am conscious of deterioration—spiritual declension. Self-indulged sin—permitted worldliness, in some subtle shape or form, has crept in—blunted the fine edge of conscience, dulled the sensibilities of my spiritual nature, dimmed my soul to its grander destinies, and left me to muse in my better moments, in sadness and tears, over the wreck of former joys."
Are you prone to feel, in this desponding contrast between past devotedness and present faithlessness, as if the Lord's countenance and favor must be withdrawn from you forever—that there can be nothing but the bitterness of an ever sadder and more hopeless estrangement? No, no! He remembers that time, "the kindness of your youth"—these early vows, that early pledged love; the vows so poorly kept, the love so strangely diminished. While the pages of your own memory are all blurred by sin, He remembers the earlier entries and inscriptions of devotedness that stood on these yet unblotted leaves. He remembers the efforts (it may be—the feeble efforts) you made in His service—the secret struggles in the closet, the fervid prayers and recorded vows of the sanctuary, the testimony borne for Him in the world.
How tenderly and lovingly does God deal with his backsliding children! He has no delight in remembering their sin. He loves to exhume rather from a forgotten past, anything He sees in them worthy of commendation, even, notwithstanding much, it may be, of present frailty, inconsistency, and self-righteousness. He speaks of "my servant Job." He speaks of Lot as "that righteous man." See in the case of Peter what his Lord "remembers," when the erring disciple confronts him on the lake-shore. It is not the faithless hours of his apostolic manhood; but it is "the kindness of his youth." Not Jerusalem, with its recent Palace-hall; but Bethsaida, Capernaum, Caesarea-Philippi, and many other scenes and associations of hallowed, devoted love.
And so with us. He is willing in our case, too, to forget the long-intervening season of coldness, and distance, and alienation, if we tender the promise of renewed obedience. Yes, fearful one, take courage! Cast your eye back on those gracious seasons "when the candle of the Lord did shine, and when by His light you walked through darkness." On that time, which the lapse of years may have partially dimmed or obliterated, the loving thoughts of your God delight to rest. "You may have banished Me," He seems to say, "from your thoughts; but I have not banished you from Mine"—"I remember the kindness of your youth."
Now let Your unfailing love comfort me, just as You promised me, Your servant. Psalm 119:76