I want at this time, not so much to say
anything new, but just to underline some of the
things that have been said.
I think we have been realizing through the years
that God is wanting to enlarge and stretch our inner
man, by which I mean the stretching of the inner
spirit and the renewing of the soul, and we are
going to see what David says about this in Psalm 27.
First we will read verse 14:
"Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he
shall strengthen your heart: wait, I say, on the
The word 'wait' in the Hebrew is an interesting one,
for, as you know, the Hebrew is a picture language.
When they write this word they are making a picture
of a man making rope. Can you see him taking one
strand, taking another strand, and another, and
twisting them, and finally getting a strong rope?
When God first makes a connection to our life, the
strand is rather thin and flimsy, but through the
years He is strengthening this connection and
enlarging us so that there might be a greater flow
of His life to us.
Now, beginning with verse 1 of this Psalm, let us
see the secrets of which David speaks and by which
this enlargement takes place:
"The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom
shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my
life; of whom shall I be afraid?"
Not an Experience - But a Living
I want us to get hold of this first of all.
People so often think of the Lord's working in their
lives as a mere touch, or an experience that they
have, but God's way is to bring us into a living
union, a living relationship with Himself. If we
merely have a good experience, we are relating
something to the past, but if we catch what this
entering into a living relationship means,
everything changes. I used to interpret this verse
as: "The Lord gives me light and salvation',
but what it says is: 'The Lord is -
continually - my light and my salvation.' You see,
if you come to the conference and merely have a good
and refreshing experience while here, then I will
worry about you when I get home; but if you discover
the secret of a living union, a living relationship,
then you go home with something that will keep you.
Before I discovered this wonderful secret I used to
get down and pray that the Lord would give me a
message for the people - like a package coming from
heaven. Then I began to see that it was not
something that He gives, but He just wants me to
start, as it were, with a sense that He will give as
I go along - He is my light continually.
All light that the Lord shares, or becomes to us,
comes in two ways. First we learn the regulating law
of life as it is revealed in His Word, but then He
also gives the anointing which continually works to
give direction. In the Old Testament they had the
law and the prophets for direction, but now we have
the inner law written in our hearts and the
anointing (which works like the prophets)
continually giving us the sense of direction.
Well, there will be no enlargement until we discover
that there is this living relationship by which the
Lord imparts Himself to us, and just as surely as we
enter into this phase of life, everything seems to
crowd in to try and break that connection.
"When the wicked, even my enemies and my foes,
came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and
fell. Though a host should encamp against me, my
heart shall not fear: though war should rise
against me, in this will I be confident"
(verses 2 and 3).
Not Mere Trials - But Confirmation
So it is that God begins to enlarge a
little further, and we must see that the trials and
testings are the Lord's means of confirming Himself
Exodus 17 gives us a picture of this. Moses has just
led the children of Israel across the Red Sea, and
now they are wanting some water to drink. In verse 2
they come to Moses and say: "Give us water to
drink." Moses replied, "Why do you quarrel with me?
Why do you put the LORD to the test?"" You see, when
we begin to walk with the Lord and He brings us to a
'no water' experience, we are prone to think that we
have missed His will. I want to ask you a question
about this: At this point had the people missed
God's will, or were they where He wanted them to be?
I think we know that God had led them right to this
point. He wanted to confirm Himself to them, but it
was a stretching time.
Has God ever led you to a time of no water? No job,
no money, no friends, no help, or something else
like that? How easy it is to imagine that we have
missed God's way when this comes, but He wants to
confirm the verse: "My God shall supply all your
need" (Philippians 4:19). That is a mere verse until
He confirms it to us.
I remember several years ago, when I was ministering
on the West coast of America, I arrived at my
friend's place and he handed me a whole schedule for
the week. He had me running from place to place all
day long - ten minutes here, twelve minutes there,
thirteen minutes somewhere else. I looked at my
brother and said: 'Oh, you know me better than this!
I can't fit into this schedule. Brother, I can't
even read my text in twelve minutes!' But when I
went to my bedside to ask for the Lord's help, He
showed me this portion about the children of Israel.
I knew about other kinds of 'no water', but not the
limiting of myself to a few minutes, so I had to cry
out for His strength and help.
Now I can tell you that that is the way I felt in
coming here and having to speak with two
You see, it is interesting that just before this the
people of Israel had had the experience of the
bitter water at Marah, but God is not just taking us
back to another Marah each time. In verses 3 and 4
of chapter 17 it says: "But the people were thirsty
for water there, and they grumbled against Moses.
They said, "Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to
make us and our children and livestock die of
thirst?" Then Moses cried out to the LORD, "What am
I to do with these people? They are almost ready to
stone me." God has no delight in just taking us
through testings, but it is the only way He can
confirm His Word or His promises to us. Every time
He unveils a new promise there is a stretching to
make it real. We might get to the place where we
would like to have all the verses confirmed to us,
but God does not want the diffusion of our energies
on just verses.
Not Human Energy - But Divine
In the next verse of our Psalm we get the
thing toward which God is stretching us. There are
many of the Lord's children who would expend
themselves in doing so many good and needful things.
I know what it is to look around and see needs in
every place, but here will come a very difficult
stretching for us: God wants to work into us a sense
of priority. Every need does not constitute a call.
People can be so busy giving themselves to good
activity but they miss the real priority that God
wants. The prophet Hosea said of Ephraim: "Strangers
have devoured his strength" (Hosea 7:9), and how
meaningful this should be to the Lord's children who
feel pulled in every direction by the needs which
they see! Listen to the sense of priority in this
verse, as David tells us:
"One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will
I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the
Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty
of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple"
Beloved, I do not believe that one can go on very
far in inward stretching without this one thing,
this Divine priority, becoming very real. The
Apostle Paul said: "This one thing I do...", and
Jesus said of Mary, who was sitting at His feet,
"Mary hath chosen that good part" (Luke 10:42).
What is this 'one thing' of which David is speaking?
Oh, how our soul-life will pull at us to get us into
busy activity for God! I know a little bit of what
it is like to have our emotions touched by the
suffering of people, and you can expect this kind of
inner argument to go on. Your inner spirit will say:
'It is time to be quiet and dwell,' while your soul
is rising up to say: 'Get to work! Look at all the
needy people!' Listen to this verse where the spirit
is speaking to the soul: "Why art thou cast down, O
my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me?" (Psalm
42:5). In my own words I would say: 'Soul, you be
quiet and listen to the spirit!' You see, the soul
wants to run away and act independently of the inner
spirit, but God made the soul to be subservient to
the spirit, so he ends it by saying: 'Soul, you be
quiet now and give praise for the help of the Lord.'
Now, remember, when we talk about 'waiting' we are
not speaking of passive waiting, but an active
waiting. Oh, how many of the Lord's children are
wasting their strength with just activity!
I remember how a few years ago the Lord taught me
this lesson in a very real way. I had been away from
my family, about two thousand miles from home, for
ten weeks, and oh! how I was looking forward to
being home! As I drove in that afternoon I met my
wife and my little boy in the drive, and I hugged
them and thought: 'Oh, it is so wonderful to be
home!' but in about a minute my little boy was gone.
I said to my wife: 'Where is DeVon? I am home and I
want to be with him.' So I walked to the garage
door, where I heard him, and said: 'Son, Daddy's
home. Don't you want to be with him?' His little
voice answered back: 'Oh, Daddy, I am so busy!' and
I realized that you cannot force fellowship when it
is not wanted! So I began to get busy myself, but I
was hurting deep within. The next morning, as was
our custom, we went up town to the Post Office, for
he always loved to come with me. But, as I was
coming down the steps of the Post Office, I chanced
to see the other side of my car, which I had not
been able to see when I got into it. It looked so
strange that I wondered if it really was my car!
There, plastered all over the side of the car, were
pieces of paper and cardboard, attached with my best
insulating tape! Then it was that I realized what he
had been so busy doing, and when he saw that I was
observing all his handiwork, he looked up at me with
such glee, as if to say: 'Don't you like it, Daddy?'
I was about to scold him, and then the Lord spoke to
me. He seemed to say: 'This is the same trouble that
I have with you, My son. You get so busy doing
things I have not asked you to do.' So all I could
do was to pick DeVon up and say: 'Daddy likes it.'
But from that day on the Lord began to make this
sense of priority much more real.
It is so easy to be busy going from here to there,
preaching and teaching and doing, but what is the
one thing that the Lord wants most? It is to know
intimate fellowship with the Lord. I do believe that
if this priority becomes very real in us, God will
cut off a lot of good and apparently important
things - but how do things really measure up in the
light of eternity? This can apply to us in so many
ways. For over twenty years I have gone here and
there, holding meetings, but more and more the Lord
is saying: 'A sharper focus on priority.' About the
time that we sense the flow of life we feel that we
really want to go out to help, but it is quite a
stretching thing when the Lord begins to restrain us
to this one thing. I believe that 'to dwell in the
spirit' means for our spirit to be very sensitive to
the Holy Spirit instead of to all the pulling of the
It is very strange, but about the time we decide:
'Oh, Lord, this is a wonderful priority!', it is
then that the Lord will say to us: 'No, I don't want
you to stay on your knees all the time!'
Not Lopsided Intensity - But
We are such creatures of extremes! If a
thing is good, why, we just do that all the time. So
it is not lopsided intensity, but balance that the
Lord has to work out. There are some people who,
because of their temperaments, would like to become
hermits, and for these people I am now saying that
this intensity can become lopsided. Hosea, in the
chapter from which we have already quoted, says that
Ephraim is like a cake half baked. He is burned down
one side, but raw on the other. Now, don't
misunderstand: this priority of giving ourselves
wholly to dwelling with Him is very wonderful. I
have seen mothers who determined they were going to
give some hours each day to waiting before the Lord,
but more things happen to the children about that
time. Everything tries to hinder us from this
sharpening of priority, but about the time we would
like to live the hidden life with the Lord, He says:
'Now I want to use you.' And we are so prone to say:
'Lord, I am content just to dwell with You,' but He
does not want a cake raw on one side.
Let us go back to our Psalm, where we read in verses
5 and 6:
"For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in
his pavilion; in the secret of his tabernacle
shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.
And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine
enemies round about me; therefore will I offer in
his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing,
yea, I will sing praises unto the Lord."
About the time we would like to know the hiding
away, God says: 'No, now is the time to set you on a
rock, for I want to use you.'
We go back to Exodus 17, when the people of Israel
had no water and Moses cried out to the Lord for
help. 'Lord, what shall I do? This people are almost
ready to stone me!' And do you know what the Lord
says to Moses? 'Moses, you get up on that rock over
there.' 'But, Lord, I will just be a better target
for their stones!' But this is the way that God
demonstrates through a life. "And the Lord said unto
Moses, Go on before the people, and take with thee
of the elders of Israel; and thy rod, wherewith thou
smotest the river, take in thine hand, and go.
Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock
in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock...". Can you
see that this is the way that we can get water for
others? God has a way of stretching us until we
become fruitful and can meet the need of others.
"...Thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come
water out of it."
So you can be sure that when you become too intense
in one thing, the Lord has a way of balancing the
Not Striving After Jesus - But
Finally we come to the cry of the heart:
"When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said
unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek" (Psalm
The Lord is concerned for one thing, and that is
that we learn to be occupied with His lovely self.
It is not a striving to express the Lord Jesus, but
when I am occupied with His face something
happens to my face. You can tell what people
look at continually. When people are looking at the
dark, dangerous and fearful side of life, the lines
are written all over their faces, but you can always
tell when someone has been occupied with the joyful,
the bright and the living side. Have you ever
noticed that when a husband and wife look at one
another for fifty years across the table they begin
to look more and more alike? I wish I could say that
they always look like the prettier of the two!
Really, you would be surprised how many of you here
are beginning to look alike. It is the law, for it
says in the Bible: "As in water face answereth to
face, so the heart of man to man" (Proverbs 27:19).
Seriously, now, I have met some who have really
reflected the loveliness of the Lord Jesus. John
says: "We shall be like him; for we shall see him as
he is" (1 John 3:2).
Several years ago I was privileged to meet an
elderly saint, who was then about eighty-seven. For
over fifty years she had been an invalid and
confined to her room, but if ever I saw anyone who
lived face to face with the Lord, she did. Dozens of
pastors throughout that whole valley made their way
to this humble little cottage. The first time I went
into her room, I had only been there about ten
minutes when I fell on my face on the floor, for the
glory of the Lord was so real and all I could say
was: 'Lord, I am unclean!' It seemed that every
other phrase that she spoke was praise to the Lord.
She adopted me as one of her sons. It was strange
how, when she read something from the Word of God,
things that I had known so well suddenly became
piercing. She kept reading from a special book when
I went to visit her, and one day I said: 'Mother,
you may not be here too much longer. Would you give
me this book when you are gone?' Every time she read
from it it seemed that God just cut my heart open.
One day when I went into her room I said: 'Mother,
it is a shame that you sit here like this. Don't you
know that God heals people?' She looked up at me
with such sympathy, and replied: 'Oh, yes, my boy, I
know God would have healed me a long time ago,' and
then in her broken English she said: 'And den I
would have runned around like all de oder womans!'
She had no desire to be in any other place, but just
dwelling with God and seeking His face, and I
believe she had a ministry that touched more people
than many others I have known.
One day a package came to my home by mail, and when
I looked at the 'return address' in the corner I
knew what had happened. I was sorry that she had
gone, but my heart leaped: at last I had this
wonderful book! I got alone by myself and started to
read - and I am ashamed to admit this. I discovered
that it was not the book, but the person who made
the difference. I read the book, but it does not
speak to me as it did.
Let me just say in closing, dear friends: God wants
to stretch our inner life, but it will only be as we
learn to wait, and wait... and wait. It will only
begin with a living relationship, through
confirmation, by new priority, a real balance, and
preoccupation with Himself. If you go away from here
with more than an experience, with a living
relationship, then my heart shall rejoice.
Waiting for God
The Divine Ministry of Delay
Temptation... but not as we've known