Wednesday, October 9, 2013
“For thus saith the high and lofty One who inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy: I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also who is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones” (Isa. 57:15).
It was while my husband, Robert, and I were missionaries in the Philippines with the China Inland Mission (now Overseas Missionary Fellowship) that we received this letter from our director, J. Oswald Sanders. It is rich and needy today. I want to share it with you.
“This spacious text which expresses the attitudes that are compatible with the greatness of our God, tells us four things about Him. His Transcendence. ‘The high and lofty one.’ What had surprised Isaiah was the elevation of His throne, infinitely higher than any earthly throne. He learned that God is greater than our highest conception of Him, greater than all majesty. ‘He is ABOVE all,’ said John. ‘God OVER all,’ said Paul. His Holiness ‘whose name is Holy’ and His name is His nature. His throne is the blazing centre of all moral purity. His is a holiness that dazzles and blinds and prostrates. Perhaps the reason that we are not dazzled is that cataracts may be growing over the eyes of our soul. His holiness should awe us, and will certainly reveal the tawdriness of our highest attainments in that realm. His crystal purity is in startling contrast to our dinginess. The glory of His absolute holiness, meditated upon and presented to our hearts with power by the Holy Spirit, cannot but make us humble and contrite. His Eternity ‘which inhabiteth eternity’ ‘I fill heaven and earth.’ These claims are infinitely more intelligible to us than to any previous generation -- a universe vast beyond all imagining.
A recent authority wrote: ‘The stars and planets exceed in number all grains of sand on all seashores.’ How insignificant is man! How great is God! Man, a prisoner of time and space. God, the uncreated Master of eternity. His condescension. Our God who is great beyond all imagining, deigns to take up His abode in a humble and contrite heart. ‘God has two thrones,’ said the old Puritan, ‘one in the highest heaven and one in the humblest heart.’ The Infinite condescends to become the intimate, terrible and yet tender. The immensity of His stoop staggers the imagination but warms the heart. Let us love, and sing, and wonder that the Transcendent God who fills eternity makes Himself small enough to fill my heart when it is humble and contrite. ‘Contrite’ means ‘pulverized, shattered’ -- self-reliance broken. ‘Humble’ means that all illusions about self are gone. Are we longing to see God work? He tells us the type through whom He delights to achieve His purposes. ‘TO THIS MAN will I look, even to him that is of a humble and contrite heart, who trembleth at my Word.’ Lord make me a man [woman] like that!
“Why does the high and lofty One dwell in the humble and contrite heart? ‘to restore ... to revive.’ Is this our need? Here is the panacea.”’
Have you been smitten by this Self-portrait and Self-revelation of God before you as I have been? Have you lost yourself in wonder, love, praise, and thanksgiving? Thanks for responding.