"This is the resting place, let the weary rest; and this is the place of repose"—

"You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand." John 13:7

A gracious 'whisper' into the ear of an ardent and loving but impetuous apostle, from Him who was Himself the Heavenly Palm. An assurance well calculated to relieve needless anxiety; and impart confidence, trust, and strength to His people, at all times, and under all circumstances.

Here in this present world, we have only a partial view of God's dealings, His half-completed, half-developed plan; but all will stand out in fair and graceful proportions in the great finished Temple of Eternity!

Go, in the reign of Israel's greatest King, to the heights of Lebanon. See that noble Cedar, the pride of its peers, an old wrestler with northern blasts! Summer loves to smile upon it—night spangles its feathery foliage with dewdrops—the birds nestle on its branches, the weary pilgrim, or wandering shepherd rest under its shadow from the midday heat or from the furious storm; but, all at once, it is marked out to fall! The aged inhabitant of the forest is doomed to succumb to the woodman's stroke! As we see the axe making its first gash on its gnarled trunk, then the noble limbs stripped of their branches, and at last the "Tree of God," as was its distinctive epithet, coming with a crash to the ground, we exclaim against the uncalled-for destruction, the demolition of this proud pillar in the temple of nature. We are tempted to cry with the prophet, as if inviting the sympathy of every lowlier stem—invoking inanimate things to resent the affront—"Howl, fir-tree, for the cedar has fallen!"

But wait a little. Follow that gigantic trunk as the workmen of Hiram launch it down the mountainside; thence conveyed in rafts along the blue waters of the Mediterranean; and last of all, behold it set a glorious polished beam in the Temple of God. As you see its destination, placed in the very Holy of Holies, in the diadem of the Great King—say, can you grudge that 'the crown of Lebanon' was ravaged, in order that this jewel might have so noble a setting? That cedar stood as a stately prop in Nature's sanctuary, but the glory of the latter house was greater than the glory of the former.

How many of our souls are like these cedars of old! God's axes of trial have stripped and bared them. We see no reason for dealings so dark and mysterious. But He has a noble end and object in view; to set them as everlasting pillars and rafters in His Heavenly Zion; to make them "a crown of splendor in the Lord's hand, and a royal diadem in the hand of our God."

Jehovah, had He seen fit, might, by miracle or otherwise, have studded the march of the Israelites all the way to Canaan with Elim groves. At each fresh encampment, as the guiding cloud gave the sign of rest, an improvised oasis, fringed with trees and musical with springs, might have risen in the midst of the barren sands. The beautiful promise of the evangelical prophet might have had a literal fulfillment—"The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon" (Isa. 35:1, 2).

We know how different was their experience! Take one of the many similar entries in the inspired record—"Then the Israelites set out from the Desert of Sinai and traveled from place to place until the cloud came to rest in the Desert of Paran" (Num. 10:12). Their route lay through barren wastes and waterless valleys and under brazen skies—the way infested with serpents and scorpions, their steps tracked by predatory tribes. So also in the case of His people still. Had He seen fit He might have ordained that their pathway was to be without gloom or darkness, trial or tear; no cross, no "deep calling to deep," nothing but seas undisturbed by a ripple; sunny slopes and verdant valleys, and bright clusters of palm, with sunlit fronds of love and faithfulness!

But to keep them humble, to teach them their dependence on Himself, to make their present existence a state of discipline and probation, He has ordered it otherwise. Their journey, as travelers, is at times through mist and cloudland. Their voyage, as seamen, through alternate calm and storm. They are like the vessel being built in the dockyard. The unskilled and uninitiated can hear nothing but clanging hammers; they can see nothing but unshapely timbers and glare of torches. It is a scene of din and noise, dust and confusion. But all will at last be acknowledged as needed portions in the spiritual workmanship, when the soul, released from its earthly fastenings, is launched on the summer seas of eternity.

"Give to the winds your fears;
Hope, and be undismayed;
God hears your sighs and counts your tears,
God shall lift up your head.
Through waves and clouds and storms
He gently clears your way
O wait His time—so shall this night
Soon end in joyous day!"

"THEN shall we know," to use the words of an earnest thinker, "that the dark scenes were dark with light too bright for mortal eye; the sorrow turning into dearest joys when seen to be the filling up of Christ's; who withholds not from us His own crown, bidding us drink of His cup and be baptized with His baptism; and saying to our reluctant hearts, 'What I do you know not now, but you shall know hereafter'" (Hinton).

"I do not ask, O Lord, that life may be
A pleasant road;
I do not ask that Thou wouldst take from me
Aught of its load.

"I do not ask that flowers should always spring
Beneath my feet;
I know too well the poison and the sting
Of things too sweet.

"For one thing only, Lord, dear Lord, I plead,
Lead me aright—
Though strength should falter, and though heart should bleed,
Through peace to light.

"I do not ask my cross to understand,
My way to see—
Better in darkness just to feel Thy hand,
And follow Thee."

"When evening comes, there will be light."

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