E MINISTER of the gospel, a comparatively young man of great ability and ambition, stared at the message from the Bible: "Be still, and know that I am God (Ps. 46:10)." How could he "be still" with a large church membership dependent on him, with the evangelistic program just ahead, with funds to be raised, with special programs scheduled, and other tasks too many to enumerate, but all on his desk calendar in front of him?
Be still? Why surely there was some mistake. This message was not for a minister. But the doctor's words flashed into his mind: "Your physical condition demands that you go slow and carry no more heavy responsibilities for a long time." "But how can I serve the Lord and win souls while being still and thinking about myself instead of my congregation?" he reasoned to himself. So Pastor Hart continued his usual activities for a while, and his condition worsened.
One day, while the minister was sitting on his porch with a book in hand, his eyes fell intermittently to his opened page. He was thinking. Suddenly he sat erect and stared at the words he had read many times, but which now seemed to stand out in bold relief as never before.
God never leads His children otherwise than they would choose to be led, if they could see the end from the beginning, and discern the glory of the purpose which they are fulfilling as coworkers with Him. Not Enoch, who was translated to heaven, not Elijah, who ascended in a chariot of fire, was greater or more honored than John the Baptist, who perished alone in the dungeon.—The Desire of Ages (1940), pp. 224, 225.
"But," Pastor Hart argued to himself, "I want to bear fruit. At least a 25 per cent increase in membership for 1957 was my goal.
The conference expects me to be worth my salary, and the Lord expects us to bear fruit." Fruit! The word connected in his mind with a statement almost forgotten, but now recalled under the pressure of the moment. In eagerness he arose from the chair and walked to the bookshelves he had built to accommodate the many books that his growing library contained. He found the place and read:
The fruit Christ claims, after the patient care bestowed upon His church, is faith, patience, love, forbearance, heavenly-mindedness, meekness. These are clusters of fruit which mature amid storm and cloud and darkness, as well as in the sunshine.—Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 117.
The perfect fruit of faith, meekness, and love of ten matures best amid storm clouds and darkness. —Christ's Object Lessons, p. 61.
And again, in The Desire of Ages, page 224:
But for the sake of thousands who in after years must pass from prison to death, John was to drink the cup of martydom. As the followers of Jesus should languish in lonely cells, or perish by the sword, the rack, or the fagot, apparently forsaken by God and man, what a stay to their hearts would be the thought that John the Baptist, to whose faithfulness Christ Himself had borne witness, had passed through a similar experience!
"Be still and know," aloud Pastor Hart said to himself. "So John the Baptist bore fruit while manacled by chains, but it was a different type of fruit from what I had in mind. I am only sidetracked temporarily by ill-health." As the sun sank behind a pointing pine on the western slope in front of the porch, sweet peace and rest flooded his whole being—a healing balm in itself.
The man sat for some moments in the stillness as shadows crept across the lawn, knowing he had overlooked the fact that God gives all things times of rest, even the earth itself. The darkness gathers at night and covers up the light of day while nature waits. In summer everything in nature is working at growth, but winter draws its coverlet of white over all things, bidding them to be still for a while.
"And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while" (Mark 6:31). Pastor Hart had quoted the text to others many times, but had not thought of applying it to himself. Now in the stillness of this quiet hour he realized the desert was in bloom and would help him bring forth fruit with the new power that would surge into his life if he quietly waited on the Lord.