“O My Dove,” a Thought from A.B. Simpson

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“O my dove, that art in the clefts of the rock,
in the secret places of the stairs,
let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice;
for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely.”

Song of Solomon 2:14, KJV

“The dove is in the cleft of the rock”—that is, the open side of our Lord. There is comfort and security there. It is also in the secret places of the stairs. It loves to build its nest in the high towers to which men mount by winding stairs for hundreds of feet above the ground. What a glorious vision is there obtained of the surrounding scenery.

It is a picture of ascending life. To reach our highest altitudes we must find the secret places of the stairs. That is the only way to rise above the natural plane. Our lives should be ones of quiet mounting with occasional resting places; but we should be mounting higher, step by step. Not everyone finds this way of secret ascent. It is only for God’s chosen.

The world may think we are going down. We may not have as much public work to do as formerly.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit.”

Matthew 5:3

It is a secret, hidden life. We may be hardly aware that we are growing, until one day a test comes and we find we are established.

  • Have you arrived at the place where Christ is keeping you from willful disobedience?
  • Does the consciousness of sin make you shudder?
  • Are you lifted above the world?”

~~A.B. Simpson

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Albert Benjamin Simpson, (Dec. 15, 1843 – Oct. 29, 1919)

FOUNDER OF THE Christian and Missionary Alliance, Albert Benjamin Simpson was born in Canada of Scottish parents. He became a Presbyterian minister and pastored several churches in Ontario. Later, he accepted the call to serve as pastor of the Chestnut Street Presbyterian Church in Louisville, Kentucky. It was there that his life and ministry were completely changed in that, during a revival meeting, he experienced the fullness of the Spirit.

He continued in the Presbyterian Church until 1881, when he founded an independent Gospel Tabernacle in New York. There he published the Alliance Weekly and wrote 70 books on Christian living. He organized two missionary societies which later merged to become the Christian and Missionary Alliance.

–Wikipedia

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From a Mental Hospital Ward, [Crushed]

3 For the enemy has pursued my soul; he has crushed my life to the ground; he has made me sit in darkness like those long dead.”

Psalm 143:3

Some time ago,  I was hospitalized for my mental illness. (Actually seven times.) And though each time was bitter, but the Lord carried me.  They would take from me my shoelaces, and belts, and fingernail clippers.  Basically, I was stripped of everything, anything that I might use to harm myself. But I was creative, I took a clock off the wall and rolled it in a blanket,  I smashed it and used the shards of glass to cut my wrists.The nurses were exceptionally observant, and within moments they intervened.

I had already been stripped, searched, and then brought into a ward full of very sick people.  Much of all of this is a terrible glazed blur.  There was a real awareness of unreality.  I was quite confused, and it would take several weeks before I could reconnect.  Things were no longer ‘reasonable’ and I could discern nothing.  But I didn’t know I was so confused (but I did suspect it). The staff were quite aware and accommodating.  They let me be, so time could take care of the rest. I needed to unravel things  

Besides, Jesus knew exactly where I was if I didn’t.

Days rolled by, quite slowly.  The tedium of a mental hospital is the worst— much more difficult than jail or prison.  You walk in a very limited corridor, back and forth.  You wait for your shrink, and wait, and wait.  You pace, and pace. You pray, stupidly.  The other patients were equally disturbed.  There was a great variety among them.  One guy would urinate in any corner. Once he jumped up on the nurses station, and took a “whizz.” It was hysterical.  He almost shorted out their computer.

In all of this, there was a very bleak and strange awareness, of being incredibly ‘detached,’ and only remotely aware that something was not right with me.  I tried to get well, but I was mentally lost.  I paced, and I remained confused.  I was most definitely in an ugly place.  Desperate and increasingly bewildered, I knew I had no place to go.  A fine place for someone who used to pastor, and teach at a Bible college.

If you have been in this place, you will recognize the ‘lostness’ of being on a ward of a mental hospital. It is confusion mixed with despair,  and without a part of very strong drugs, and there is nothing you can do to be released.  And really until you come to this fact, they will never let you go.  They wait for you to snap out of your confusion, unfortunately that takes time. Sometimes many weeks and whole months. Sometimes never.

It’s worse when you have a family.  In my case it was my wife, and two small children.  This at times, would twist my heart.  I would get a very short phone call, once a week.  But this was quite difficult.  I gained very little from those calls, and I found myself quite disturbed after each call.  Being on this ward tinged me completely. It was like being dipped into darkness.  I was very much affected.  Now on the outside, I admit I was quite disturbed, but at the time I honestly did not understand a way out.

Dear friend, having a mental illness is cruel and disturbing.  And being committed to a mental hospital is a desperate thing.  Having passed through its locked doors is something you will never forget.  The way I figure these seven hospitalizations have stolen over six months of my life. Its work is irrevocable, its fingerprints will be on your life, for as long as you live.  But God will bring good out of this. This I know.

“Do not gloat over me, my enemy!
    Though I have fallen, I will rise.
Though I sit in darkness,
    the Lord will be my light.”

Micah 7:8

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Notice Leah’s Eyes, [Handicaps]

Portait of woman wearing scarf with eyes closed Stuck in the wonderful convolutions of scripture we can start a great study of Leah and her sister Rachel. These two daughters of Laban have become Jacob’s wives.

Now, we may question this polygamy when all we know is monogamy. These kind of decisions may be criticized and even outright challenged, but we will change nothing (and does it really matter)?

Jacob longs for Rachel. She is his “soul mate” and because he is so much in love, the customs and technicalities of the day somehow get by him. Because of this, he will have to take on Laban’s subtle trickery, where daughters get exchanged, and he must sort out who is who. Laban’s deception really creates a crisis. But it seems Jacob just rolls with it. I suppose deception has always been Jacob’s strong suit. (But when a deceiver gets deceived, that can’t be all bad, I suppose).

Jacob is so in love with Rachel that he works for seven years for the right to marry her. This may be a bit outrageous. But we really must weigh these issues. I believe Jacob really is a monogamist at heart (shh… don’t tell him). He can only see that one girl that he is crazy about, his true love, Rachel. But it’s Leah that I think about. Her own issues are unique. Genesis 29 explains it a bit cryptically,

“Leah’s eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful in form and appearance.” 

Genesis 29:17

I must tell you that there is confusion by commentators about the “weak eyes.” Some take it literally (as in, she in very “near-sighted,”) others who look at the original Hebrew find the words to be a bit looser and vague. They think that this is a polite way of saying she really wasn’t pretty. IDK, but I think I can gain from either interpretation.

In the long view, Leah would birth four patriarchs for Israel. But she would struggle with jealousy over her younger sister’s beauty and favor. Her pain was real, and she would hurt deeply over this.

I think I may understand Leah. She is wounded, and life requires that she live as unwanted. She sticks out as a woman of tragedy and broken hopes and dreams. She will always live as a reject. At best, she will always be a distant second, and perhaps a bit scorned and neglected for this.

I so love Leah and I do understand her. Her life is a long tragedy and very full of sadness. For the next 30-40 years she will always be a cast-off, someone who has been broken on life’s hard wheel. I look at her with a painful bit of understanding. She reminds me of being a struggler and a survivor. Her sad life is comparable to us who have to fight so hard over our own illness or handicap.

I suppose its “Leah’s eyes” that catch me. I have no idea what the issue was. But I know that she was weak, and challenged by this terrible weakness. I understand this. My own life has been “topsy-turvy” and a really hard struggle. Somehow it seems we must work through way too much. It doesn’t seem fair. But than again, we are the ones who must drink our adversity straight; and the ones who get to know special comfort.

For those of you who are confined to a ‘chair,’ and the others who must deal with mental illness. Leah should be our hero.

Those who have been betrayed by addiction, or who have felt rejected through a bitter divorce. Leah speaks to us. For she is for every loser and for failures of all stripes. But through all of our “set-backs” and messes, we must realize that God does love us– even as we weep.

We may have “Leah’s eyes,” but we also have His grace.

One more thought that might be relevant:

“When you encounter difficulties and contradictions, do not try to break them, but bend them with gentleness and time.”

–Francis de Sales

 

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The Gentile Woman, Matthew 15:21-28

This is a chapter from my book, “They Met Jesus: Stories from the Gospels.” Hope you like it!

Chapter 6

The Gentile Woman, Matthew 15:21-28

Then Jesus left Galilee and went north to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 A Gentile woman who lived there came to him, pleading, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! For my daughter is possessed by a demon that torments her severely.”

23 But Jesus gave her no reply, not even a word. Then his disciples urged him to send her away. “Tell her to go away,” they said. “She is bothering us with all her begging.”

24 Then Jesus said to the woman, “I was sent only to help God’s lost sheep—the people of Israel.”

25 But she came and worshiped him, pleading again, “Lord, help me!”

26 Jesus responded, “It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.”

27 She replied, “That’s true, Lord, but even dogs are allowed to eat the scraps that fall beneath their masters’ table.”

28 “Dear woman,” Jesus said to her, “your faith is great. Your request is granted.” And her daughter was instantly healed.

I grew up watching the sea, it always brought me peace. I loved its serene beauty. My girl loved flowers. As a little child, I remember her making daisy chains, and the way she laughed. When the darkness came she was never was the same. I stood by and helplessly watched Satan consume my daughter.

She was sick. Sick with something evil and dark. Somebody said it was demons, but she was possessed by something I didn’t fully understand, and I had immense hatred for it. I was angry for what it had done to my precious little girl. I hated the darkness that stole her heart.

That’s when a neighbor told me about the Jewish healer that might help us. That gave me hope. We already wearing out our welcome at the local temples. We had recently returned from nearby Eshmun, a pagan temple specializing in healing. The priests knew us by name. But my daughter’s condition seemed to worsen.

I made the decision to see Jesus. As a Canaanite woman I knew it wouldn’t be easy. We were not Jews and we were accustomed to being treated poorly. I knew there would be conflict. But I would do whatever it took to see him. I believed he would help us.

We came to see Jesus at the house he and his disciples were staying at. Standing outside the door I began to plead for my daughter, Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is possessed by a demon.” I spoke as plainly as I knew how. I spoke from my heart.

Jesus seemed to ignore my pleas. So I kept asking. I suppose I made his disciples uncomfortable, but you have to understand, I had no place to go. He had to heal her. I couldn’t go home without seeing him.

The disciple were advising Jesus to send me away. They knew I was a Gentile woman and they could take no time with me. I felt the silent rage of racial prejudice. Still I stayed, and I continued to beg.

Then Jesus finally turned to me and said, I was sent only to help God’s lost sheep—the people of Israel.” My heart almost broke. But I knew if he would only listen to my need he still might help me.

I came and worshiped him and then I continued to plead. I must make him see, he was my only hope at that moment. “O Jesus, help me!”

Jesus responded, “It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.”

I cringed inside. The Jews call the Gentiles dogs. I felt the rebuke and I struggled to respond.“That’s true, Lord, but even dogs are allowed to eat the scraps that fall beneath their masters’ table.” I firmly believed that was the proper thing to say.

Dear woman,” Jesus said to me, “your faith is great. Your request is granted.” And my daughter was instantly healed. In that moment she completely recovered. I saw the darkness lift and light returned to her eyes.

Yesterday my daughter and I went to the seashore together. I went to see the ocean and she picked flowers. She is completely recovered. My heart is full of praise to the Living God who hears a desperate woman’s cries. I know that he is full of mercy.

Jesus, many of the people I meet are sick inside, let me be a light for them to see by. Evil is all around, but you rule over it, Help me to see your power and grace. Amen.

 

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An Inconvenient Madness, [A Broken Believer]

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Very simply, bipolar disorder is characterized by mood swings that are defined by major shifts between incredible mania and clinical depression. It’s usually intense and quite disabling.

Depression: There are days when I wake up and I don’t like what I see in the mirror. At times a deep and profound sadness seems to grip me like a vise. It’s like a huge heavy grey cloak covers me, and I can’t shake it off. Typically I hide and crawl into bed for weeks at a time. All is hopeless and I despair of life. I am irrevocably lost. This is bipolar depression and I’m slowly learning that I can shake it free.

Mania: When I’m manic it’s as though I have wings! I’m blasted with a special grace which makes me creative and intelligent and superior to mere mortals.  I become energetically impulsive and irritably crass. It’s all about ME! Thankfully these times don’t happen too often. These moods don’t last long but they’re intense. A measure of freedom can also be found.

Medication prescribed by my psychiatrist helps smooth things out. It was hard to adjust to taking them, but now I know I did the right thing. It’s been over 10 years since my diagnosis and I suppose I have the dubious honor of just surviving. I have several scars on my wrists that remind me of a long journey. Those afflicted will understand.

It’s been suggested that bipolar people can become more empathetic and sensitive to the suffering of others. I’d like to believe that this is true. This seems like a biblical idea.

“He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”

2 Corinthians 1:4, NLT

 “The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary.”

Isaiah 50:4

For the broken believer, I’m confident that the Lord can turn my mental illness into something positive and good. The Holy Spirit empowers the Christian to do the extraordinary. It’s in our weaknesses we can become strong. We are fully enough in Christ. (2 Corinthians 12:9).

I stepped down from my positions as a pastor and a Bible instructor when the bipolar symptoms became clear. This wasn’t easy but I knew it was what God wanted. Today I still speak on occasion at a local Church.

I also minister here at brokenbelievers.com and http://www.lambfollowers.com.. I try to post everyday and I get constant feedback from those who are in need. Just a single post, a list of 24 hour crisis hotlines, averages 175 hits a day by itself! (https://brokenbelievers.com/247-crisis-lines/)

I do covet your prayers for both ministry sites.

This work would never have happened unless I was “detoured” by my bipolar.

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”

Romans 8:28

I want to urge you to look at the big picture of mental illness. Sure it can be remarkably disruptive, but the Lord can transform you. Meds and therapy are vital for me. Prayer and Bible reading even more so. You can find a way through this. It’s not easy. Don’t fight the illness. The Father works close to His “special” children. There is a real and abiding hope for you. I’m convinced you can find it.

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Someday Soon, We Will Wear White [Heaven]

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by Robert Murray McCheyne

As long as you live in your mortal body, you will be faulty in yourself. It is a soul-ruining error to believe anything else. Oh, if ye would be wise, be often looking beneath the robe of the Redeemer’s righteousness to see your own deformity. It will make you keep faster hold of his robe, and keep you washing in the fountain.

Now, when Christ brings you before the throne of God, he will clothe you with his own fine linen, and present you faultless. O it is sweet to me to think how soon you shall be the righteousness of God in him. What a glorious righteousness that can stand the light, of God’s face! Sometimes a garment appears white in dim light: when you bring it into the sunshine you see the spots. O prize, then the Divine righteousness, which is your covering.

My heart sometimes sickens when I think upon the defects of believers; when I think of one Christian being fond of company, another vain, another given to evil speaking. O aim to be holy Christians, bright, shining Christians. The heaven is more adorned by the large bright constellations than by many insignificant stars; so God may be more glorified by fine bright Christian than by many indifferent ones. Aim at being that one.

We shall be faultless. He that begun will perform it. We shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. When you lay down this body, you may say, Farewell lust for ever, farewell my hateful pride, farewell hateful selfishness, farewell strife and envying, farewell being ashamed of Christ. O this makes death sweet indeed. Let’s long to depart and to be with Christ.

 

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For more from this preacher, you may want to start with these links:

http://www.wholesomewords.org/biography/bmcheyne3.html

http://dowboy.wordpress.com/2009/03/31/robert-murray-mccheyne/