Text and art by I. Lilias Trotter
A path lies within our reach, that makes the ordinary Christian life look cold and colourless by contrast; a path leading even beyond that consecration in its lower sense, for this latter may be very subjective in tone, and may hold out the way of obedience chiefly as a means of rest and victory. It is to many of us a distinctly fresh life when God’s Spirit leads us to the objective side, lifting our gaze from the road beneath our feet to the form of him who goes before, and riveting it there by his radiant beauty… Then the measure of the sunshine and shadow of our days will be simply in the shining or the veiling of his face. Nothing on earth will make up for the slightest dimming of that light; nothing will really matter that leaves it untouched.
You may grow so to follow His voice that even your thoughts will be brought “into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” This bondage is perfect freedom, for we desire, He and we, only one and the same thing, and the true heartlove makes it all joy to follow, even if the path is narrow and rough.
It is only as we go into a life of surrender that the blessed joy of pouring out to him our costly things dawns upon us. This giving sets free a spring of conscious love and the love, in its turn, inspires to fresh giving; and though the pain involved is still pain, such a strange sweetness becomes interwoven with it that we wonder whether heaven can be perfect without the possibility of suffering loss for him. To quicken the dead is the divinest of all divine prerogatives. We creatures say, ‘While there is life there is hope,’ but our Creator will never suffer himself to be so limited. He deliberately delayed until the child was dead, for the faith of Jairus must know him as the God who quickeneth the dead, and with Lazarus he deliberately stayed away until death had established its reign, so that Martha and Mary might know him as resurrection life. So the first answer to many prayers may, therefore, be the reign of death. The last spark of life may be quenched and faith and hope left alone with the dead – and with the God who raises the dead. Do not be dismayed if the first answer to some of your prayers is a revelation, not of the power of God to make alive, but of his might to slay every hope outside of himself.