Apples of Gold

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A man of God

‘Now by this I know that thou art a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in thy mouth is truth.’

1 Kings 17:24

Just when she thought that her difficulties were behind her and that favour had come her way, it all goes horribly wrong again for this poor woman of Zaraphath.

It reminds me that I had told you before that I had stopped saying ‘things can't get any worse!’ It is a foolish statement to make and one that I doubt you will ever hear coming from my lips again.

Mr Spurgeon when trying to describe the pain he was enduring with gout said,’ can you imagine what it would be like if someone put your foot in a vice and tightened it as hard as they possibly could?’ ‘Well gout is worse than that because someone even stronger comes along and tightens the vice even more!’

The relief that the woman had received when she realized God’s wonderful provision for her would have been immense. No longer did she have to think of a last meal with her son, but rather she now had the hope of new horizons and a fresh start. What reason for thanksgiving!

When a trial comes to an end for the child of God there is thankfulness and rejoicing in the heart. He's managed to persevere. God has heard his cries from the depths and has answered them with a great deliverance.

And so the battered soul revels in peace and quiet. Stress can be felt ebbing slowly away and a lighter spirit takes up the void. Silently, ‘long may this last’ is sighed from the once stricken soul.

Though battered and bruised he's proved to be valiant and he's come through the fire and water intact. Now he's ready to fight another day, though he hopes that that day may be a long way in the future.

But illness can come upon us without warning and at the most inconvenient times. Not only so, but parents would rather suffer themselves than watch their children suffer.

The boy was so sick that even his breath had faded away. Many of us have watched as loved ones have slipped silently from time into eternity, their breath getting shallower and shallower. It's a heartbreaking sight for anyone, but even more so for a mother watching her only child slip from her grasp.

‘Oft we shrink from the purging and pruning
Forgetting the husbandman knows
That the deeper the cutting and pairing
The richer the cluster grows.’

There is a reason and purpose accompanying all of God’s dealings with His children. Perhaps if we heartily accepted that He has brought us once more into His classroom the heat might not be so unbearable.

There is no doubt that if we were more willing to learn the lessons that God has prepared for us, then we would the sooner be conformed to His image. (I preach to myself more than to anyone else!)

There is so much passion, certainty and relief in this woman’s statement to Elijah. She had wanted to believe him from the moment they first met, but something held her back. Oh! The number of times that I so dearly wanted to trust my Lord yet for some strange reason I would not let go of my problems and cares. Somehow I would handle them better if I had a little control of them.

What a foolish man I am!

One of McCheyne’s prayers was, ‘Lord make me as holy as a pardoned sinner can be.’ What greater desire can we have than to reflect the image of our Saviour in this world?

To be like Christ is an all-consuming passion in my life today. And how far short I fall!

In thinking of these things this morning I thought back to a previous generation of saints. A generation renowned for both spiritual gifts and a holy demeanour. Was it the way they walked to church through the village with their heads down that made them Christians?

Was it the dark clothes they wore? Was it the stern rebukes they gave to any who strayed, or was it their chant-like prayers? There is no doubt there was a time in my experience when these things impressed me.

There is only a handful of men that I truly admire in this world in which we live, and none of them conform to the images I've mentioned. No, these men are totally different. They are a class above the norm and, they all have certain traits in common.

They have all suffered.

They have each known the loss of loved ones. They are men given to prayer with a devotion that many would class as fanatical. They have learned through experience to lean heavily upon the Master and are at their happiest when seated at His feet. They love with an unconditional heart. They pray for their enemies.

They don't listen to gossip, preferring to speak the truth in love. They are not faultfinders. They give and hold nothing back. They do not seek reward. They have ‘laughing eyes’ and a welcoming embrace. Their faces shine! They live and work in the shadows, spreading Light in dark places.

I have been fortunate to have met these men and women, of whom I can say that this world is not worthy. The woman of Zarapheth could have spoken the same words as these men did.

It is possible to be able to reflect the image of Christ in this world, and my prayer today is that some day I will reflect the Master’s image in my own life. I feel that I am a million miles away from that type of character, but my poverty does not prevent me from seeking it. I pray it may not prevent you either!

Author: Iain Mackenzie  Edited by: Pastor Al Moak