DON'T LEAVE IT TO GABRIEL
How long it takes to complete a job depends to a great extent upon the outlook of the worker. Some have the "sustainer" complex. To them, keeping "the show on the road" is life's prime aim. To maintain what we have and cautiously expand is sufficient for them. Under this type of thinking the work will not even be finished by our children's children.
There are yet others who would "leave it to Gabriel." Hopelessly surveying the exploding population, and by it judging our snail-pace progress, they see the task as an impossible one. The central purpose of our existence is lost sight of, and men consign to the angels the work intended for themselves.
Thank God there are the "finishers." These men may not know how the job will be completed, nor are they familiar with all the agencies to be employed or the method of their deployment, but one thing is sure—they fight for a knockout not an ultimate decision. Their preaching is tinged with sharp-edged purpose. No Laodicean meandering here; every move is meaningful. No financial campaign is waged that is unflavored with belief in "finishing" the work. "Then shall the end come"; "Cut short in righteousness"; "I will come" are to become more to us than mere sermon material. Nor must uncertainty of the day and hour rob us of our certainty of the fact. And should I die before the end, may it be with the knowledge that Gabriel had none of my work to do—leaving him early free to sound the trumpet's blast.
E. E. C.
"THIS DISCOURAGED? CUP"
Cheer up, you're in distinguished company. Elijah, Moses, and Thomas are a few of the many who knew the pain of despondency. Our Saviour Himself came perilously close to the night of despair. "Christ's agony did not cease, but His depression and discouragement left Him."—The Desire of Ages, p. 694. Even this does not recommend discouragement as a virtue. It is, in fact, a most costly form of sickness. It is not incurable, but if not resisted, may prove fatal.
How, then, do you say "snap out of it"? Elijah's "downward spiral" was broken by a direct challenge from God "What doest thou here, Elijah?"
These words brought him into the sunlight. A subsequent enlargement of vision sent him on his way rejoicing.
For Moses a miracle was required. The burning bush, and the staff that was alternately reptile and rod, were encouragement enough to send him on his God-ordained mission.
As for Thomas, "Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails . . ." were his words, reflecting his doubt. Thomas had common sense. His reliance was on the sight of the eye and the touch of the finger. What he needed was uncommon faith which may ignore what is apparent to the senses in its quest of divine illumination. Contact with Christ was what he needed and got. And there are those in India who claim him as the apostle who brought them light.
Despondency tugged at the heartstrings of our Lord in the Garden near the gnarled branches of the olive tree. "His nature [was] weighed down with a shuddering, mysterious dread."—Ibid., p. 693. "If it be possible, let this cup pass from me," was the cry of a tortured soul engulfed in the blackness of a thousand midnights. Rejection by those He came to save, and the thought of eternal separation from His Father tortured His faith with unparalleled intensity. But strength from the Source of strength pierced the gloom that encircled Him. "Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt," bespoke His triumph of ultimate surrender.
This cup, the poisonous dregs of which the strongest men at times must drink. This cup, given to test our strength and prove our weakness, this cup, which is to one an elixir of life, but to another, less prayerful, a potion of death, may be drained of its contents, yet from it a new man may rise.
E. E. C.
The giant urban areas of the United States, beset by the rot of expanding slums, have launched a counterattack. It is called "slum clearance" and "urban renewal." Under this program, rat-infested, dilapidated buildings have been replaced by imposing structures of varying degrees of efficiency and beauty. Ribbons of concrete bisect these cities, making rapid transit possible.
But behind this cold facade of steel and concrete are millions of troubled hearts. Hearts in need of "clearance" and "renewal." The crimes against God and nature that brought judgment fires upon Sodom and Gomorrah are rampant in our times. Danger stalks our streets, and morality is becoming an unfamiliar word. And further, man has made gods of the works of his hands. The pursuit of gain has been equated with the pursuit of happiness.
The result of this quest is a sharpened appetite, not rest of soul. There are human hearts in dire need of "slum clearance." Indeed, man's deepest need is "heart renewal." As for the minister whose task it is to meet this need, what about sermon renewal and outline clearance?
E. E. C.