His name was Samuel Rutherford. He wasn’t perfect but he was a man of rare love. Love that was forged in the fire.
Samuel was an extremely dedicated Scottish minister in the 1600’s. He deeply cared for those in his care, and was dearly loved by his congregation in return. But even early in his ministry he was faced with heartbreak. After being married for a short 4 years, his precious wife became very ill and after battling with the illness for 13 months, died. Shortly afterwards, two of their three children and his mother also died. He was left alone and in very ill health himself to take care of his remaining child and care for his parish.
His trials didn’t end there. A few years later he was banished from his parish and exiled far from his beloved congregation because of his faithfulness to what he believed. This was exceedingly difficult for him. If there was anything he loved to do it was to expand the beauty of his Jesus to the people in his care. Now he was separated from them and prohibited from preaching.
The political situation in Scotland changed several years later and he was allowed to continue his ministry. During this time he remarried and he and his new wife had five children. It would seem that things had finally changed for the better. But not for long. Two of his dear children died as infants. Two more died while he was away in London. Before his own death at the age of 61, all of his children from both marriages had died. I can’t even begin to imagine what his father’s heart went through.
The way he related to this life of bitter experiences is clear from his own words…
“Think it not hard if you get not your will, nor your delights in this life; God will have you to rejoice in nothing but Himself.”
And again… “they lose nothing who gain Christ."
Spurgeon later quoted from one of his letters saying,
“dear Samuel Rutherford, when he wrote to a lady who had lost, I think, seven children, congratulated her and said, “I am sure that the well-Beloved has a strong affection for your ladyship, for He will have all your heart. He has taken away all these children that there may not be a nook or corner for anybody else but Him.”
His heart was captured by the love of the infinite. He willingly confessed that he was not his own…
“Since He looked upon me my heart is not my own. He hath run away to heaven with it.”
To lose all on earth was considered a very small sacrifice indeed to gain Christ. He wanted nothing but Jesus… Jesus was heaven.
“O my Lord Jesus Christ, if I could be in heaven without thee it would be hell; and if I could be in hell and have thee still it would be heaven to me, for thou art all the heaven I want.
I can’t help but be struck by such a love. It makes me examine my own. Is He really all I want? Is He my heaven?
So often I seem to think I deserve things here on earth… you know, that certain things are my right and it’s not fair if I don’t have them. And then I remember… I deserve nothing. Nothing but death. But because He loved me so much, He bore that for me and gave me the greatest gift in the universe— Himself. And I dare to think I deserve something more?
Oh my soul, claim nothing as your own.
For you there is God and God alone.
And really what could be sweeter? If I lose all I count dear, I still have Him… if I am called to walk through the valley of the shadow of death, He comes too… if I am asked to pour myself out for His people and receive nothing in return, He will give me Himself.
How can anything but gratitude ever formulate in my heart?
God alone! God alone!
In Your courts, oh my Lord, is my home
You are my treasure, my portion delight of my soul
My life, my salvation, my fortress
My God and my all.
I want Him to be my heaven. Nothing but Him. Because if it is, who says heaven can’t start now and increase in sweetness every time I’m called to bear a burden because in bearing it I find more of His heart?
Spurgeon again quotes Rutherford…
“…he speaks of the coals of divine wrath all falling upon the head of Christ, so that not one might fall upon His people. ‘And yet,’ saith he, ‘if one of those coals should drop from His head upon mine and did utterly consume me, yet if I felt it was a part of the coals that fell upon Him, and I was bearing it for His, and in communion with Him, I would choose it for my heaven. ‘“
Oh heart. Be still and think. Could I say that? Or do I still want things for myself?
or can I sing...
Once earthly joy I craved,
Sought peace and rest;
Now Thee alone I seek,
Give what is best.
This all my prayer shall be,
More love oh Christ to Thee
More love to Thee,
More love to Thee.
I’m willing to learn to claim nothing as my own. I want God and God alone.
Jesus, mold our hearts so that you are all the heaven we want…
Because, after all, we are all the heaven You want.
We live in a rat race of a world. The work is never done. At least mine isn’t. There’s always a dozen more things that could be tackled. The refrigerator contains the one sole loaf of bread in the house, which strongly hints that I have another thing on my to-do list. Right in the middle of planning when to do that I remember about the FB messages from over a month ago that have never been responded to. Or the fact I haven’t practiced piano for three times that long. A look in the ironing basket brings another reminder of yet one more thing to add to the list. And don’t even mention catching up on sitting down and going over income and expenditure. Having spent less than two weeks at home in the last two months doesn’t help, but truth be known, as soon as all those tasks were done I’d realize there were a dozen more. I could go on and on, but I’ll spare you because you probably have a dozen things on your to-do list too.
Yeah, we’re all busy like that. Sometimes it feels like it would take a lifetime to finish even the most basic of tasks.
But is that really what a lifetime is for?
Honestly, I think we would never finish all the work even if we had a dozen lifetimes. And though I by no means believe in shirking responsibility, neither do I believe in living in bondage to a list of tasks unaccomplished.
Somehow we have the idea that each day is a space of time to be used to get tasks done. So often my prayers in family morning worship echo my deep down idea of the day… “help us to accomplish all the things that need to be done.”
Wait a minute. When did life ever start to be all about accomplishing and not about enjoying? How is it so easy for me to spend the day running from one task to another and never take a moment to stop and just enjoy being alive?
It’s not like it’s a new revelation. I’ve been here before. But somehow the rat race carries me away and before I know it I’m living one day to the next thinking that I can’t consciously enjoy life until my work is done. Somehow it always seems like that moment of being able to just enjoy life for the gift it is is around the next corner. When we’re home I think I’ll have more time when we’re traveling and the minute we leave home I realize I actually had more time before.
The truth is, that moment that we think is coming around the corner will never come unless we choose to make it happen right now. Even if we were to stumble across a day where we had no work to do, we wouldn’t know how to cherish those moments.
One of my favorite quotes puts it so clearly… “Life is not an emergency. Life is a gift.”
*And another quote from the blog of the same author says simply… "A well-known pastor— he was was once asked what was his most profound regret in life? 'Being in a hurry.' That is what he said. 'Getting to the next thing without fully entering the thing in front of me. I cannot think of a single advantage I’ve ever gained from being in a hurry… But a thousand broken and missed things, tens of thousands, lie in the wake of all the rushing.… Through all that haste I thought I was making up time. It turns out I was throwing it away.’”
Truth is, life is meant to be lived not rushed. Simple I know… but not quite so easy to put into action.
There’s no better way to start than to take time to just come aside and enjoy being with Jesus. Not coming to Him with all the things I think He needs to give me. Not like a customer. But as His friend. Purely for the joy of being in His presence.
And so I take quiet hours in the middle of my day to let Him restore my soul. All the journaling I wanted to do but pushed aside because I didn’t think I had time… all those quotes I wanted to read… all those old Spurgeon sermons I’ve been wishing I had time to peruse… all those gifts I wanted to count but thought I had more important things to do… yeah, all of that. I’m catching up on that.
Maybe it’s more important to catch up on all those things that really refresh our hearts than to be forever worried about catching up on those school classes that can really wait a few hours… it’s not that they aren’t important. But sometimes the things we most neglect are the things we need most.
What if He can’t restore our souls until we are still long enough to let Him touch us? After all, the man with leprosy didn’t jerk away and say he had an important appointment before Jesus could touch and heal Him. So really, why do we?
After all, how much can we accomplish at our “appointments” when we are being destroyed by the leprosy of busyness? Perhaps what we really need is to be still and let Him catch us up in His embrace until He becomes more real than all the things that distract us.
Because what if it’s only then that we begin to really live?
*quotes from Ann Voskamp
20. Lover of Jesus. Daughter. Sister. Friend. Servant. Fan of the kitchen. Graduate of Masters of Biblical Counseling.
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Hands Open. Heart Full.