“Truly my soul waiteth upon God: from him cometh my salvation. He only is my Rock and my Salvation: He is my defence: I shall not be greatly moved.”
December 31, 1976
Tonight, as the year 1976 fades into the irrevocable past, and a new year with its uncertain realities confronts us, “My soul waits upon God.”
Truly my soul waits. Or better still, as the original expresses it, “Truly my soul is silent unto God.” A perfect peace of heart and mind fills my soul with grateful hope and trust in my God.
Serenely I listen as a distant bell tolls the midnight hour. Another year has come and gone. Twelve months, fifty-two weeks, three hundred and sixty-six days once seemed like a. long time; now they are vanished like a mere shadow. These months, weeks, and days have left with me many memories, pleasant and unpleasant, some of which will never be forgotten. They have left with God a record that will not be disclosed until the Books are opened at the Great White Throne in that great Day of days.
“Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day,
Its joys grow dim, its glory fades away.
Change and decay in all around I see,
O Thou who changest not, abide with me.”
My soul is silent unto God in an amazing tranquility, even while troubles round me swell, and fears and dangers throng.
This past year was not without its ominous signs in the world round about us. It has been a dry summer both in Europe and in America, with crops withering in the fields under the burning heat of the sun. Severe earthquakes have brought untold devastation and have taken many human lives. The mere fact that they did not strike us does not make them less significant. The national election brought changes in the administration that makes one wonder whether the threat of the unions and the closed shop .may not make it increasingly difficult for the believer to obtain employment. The constant rise in the cost of living creates a growing concern to those whose weekly expenses include school tuition and contributions to the church, missions, and the needy. A shroud of gloom hangs over the ‘heads of world commentators who foresee threats of bankruptcy confronting so many nations of the world. The fear is not unfounded that the citizens will arise with acts of violence when their accustomed affluence is taken from them. The Beast of Revelation 13 lifts its head and shows its claw, menacingly crowding in upon individual freedom with its government control in every sphere of life. Sad to say, so many in the church world ignore this, or even deny it. Yet there is a voice speaking to us from the holy Scriptures, “Behold, I have told you before.”
Blatant wickedness dominates every sphere of life. Not so many years ago our larger cities had their “red light district,” where the saloons, gambling dens, dope centers, and public houses were confined. Respectable people stayed away from there, because they did not want to be associated with the scum and corruption of society. Today that scum and corruption has spread out over the entire community, making our cities cesspools of iniquity. Almost everyone, no matter in which stratum of society, does what is right in his own eyes, defiantly transgressing every one of the ten commandments, as if there were no God in heaven who regards and takes vengeance. Once cohabiting created a scandal, divorce and remarriage were condemned as sin; but today the word sin is no longer known, so that evils are condoned even by counselors and moral advisors. Once vandalism, armed robbery, and rape were virtually unknown, while today one is hardly safe on the streets of our cities, day or night. Once lottery was frowned upon as gambling; today various States indulge in it. We are forced to ask: how much worse will the iniquity of the world become before the measure is full?
In our present day “church world” God is being dethroned and Man is exalted as if he were God. Religion has become purely man-centered. A social gospel finds its appeal to old and young alike, eagerly asking: How can the church improve our present society? The inerrant Scriptures, the righteousness of God, the atoning death of Christ, salvation to the elect only by sovereign grace, are doctrines that are relegated to mere theories that are not relevant to the enlightened, scientific times in which we are privileged to live. The knowledge and wisdom of man are exalted above the knowledge and wisdom of God. There is a form of godliness which denies the power of God, the only power unto salvation. The Jesus Who saves His people from their sins and Who is the only Lord over their lives is forgotten. A lethargic, complacent attitude settles upon the members of the church, with an air of, let us marry and give in marriage, let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.
As my thoughts turn inward I realize that I myself am not without my daily struggles in this body of sin and death. The past year knew its trials, its disappointments, its own peculiar sorrows. At times my soul was overwhelmed, anxiously I asked whether God had forgotten to be kind, whether He was deliberately withholding His mercies from me. Psalm 39came to mind. I was dumb, I dared not open my mouth, lest in doing so I should sin against the Most High. Yet pondering the ways of the Lord, I could finally say with the Psalmist, “I was dumb, I opened not my mouth; because thou didst it.”
I know my weaknesses which increase with the years. I am afraid. I am afraid of those three mortal enemies, referred to in our Heidelberg Catechism, the devil, the world, and my own sinful flesh. These wage war against me constantly in a bitter death struggle, as they seek to destroy my soul. I am weak, so weak that I cannot stand, no, not for a day, not for an hour, not for a minute, not even for a second. In the midst of these present miseries I complain,
O Lord, my God, o’erwhelmed in deep affliction,
Far from Thy rest, to Thee I lift my soul;
Deep callst to deep and storms of trouble thunder,
While o’er my head the waves and billows roll.
Yet even so, peace like a river pervades my weary soul. God is still on the throne; His power speaks through the silence of the night. For God is so very near. He holds me in the palm of His hand. He keeps. me under His watchful eye. His ear is attentive to my cry. His mouth breathes blessings upon me, even when I am least aware of it:
“My soul is silent unto God,” also now as I look out upon the darkness of the last night of the passing year, as I wait and long for the dawning of the new day. “To Thee I lift my soul. In Thee my trust repose.”
I will say of the LORD, “He only is my Rock and my Salvation; He is my defence; I shall not be greatly moved.”
My Rock! He is Jehovah, the covenant God, Who lives His own glorious and blessed covenant life within His own Being, as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit fellowship together in intimate love and joy. He always reaches out His almighty arm to draw me from the stormy billows on to the solid Rock, Christ Jesus. He is my Rock, because He is my salvation. My heavenly Father sent His Son into the world, and placed Him under the fury of His consuming wrath, a curse for me. The Son willingly gave Himself to come into our world of sin and death, to suffer at my hands, to lay down His life for me, while I was still His enemy. The Son of God, our Jesus, is now risen from hell, death, and the grave to the highest heavens, where He is exalted in power and majesty, Lord over all, my Savior and my Lord. Even as He died for me, He now lives for me. He gives me His Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Christ dwelling in me. I live by the power of that Spirit; yet not I, Christ lives in me. The life I now live is the life of Christ, the new heavenly life of faith and hope, even while I am still in this body of death. I am God’s son by adoption; God’s heir by the new life of Christ within me. Though my sins rise up against me, prevailing day by day, I receive mercy, forgiveness, the assurance that sin does not actually have dominion, but that grace abounds. God Who has begun a good work in me will surely finish it in the day of Christ Jesus.
Yes, “Jesus is a Rock in a weary land, a shelter in the time of storm.” He has always been and always will be a safe refuge to all those who flee to Him for shelter. We need no letter of recommendation. We need no appointment. We always have our Advocate before the face of God, constantly interceding for us. Through Jesus we have boldness and access to the throne of grace to make all our needs known in prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving and with praise. Even when we cannot pray as we ought, when words fail us because we do not know what is best for us, the Spirit within us prays with groanings that only He can utter. Father in heaven knows and, understands and answers our prayers far beyond anything that we can ask or think. With Him is abundant mercy to forgive our sins every day anew. He fits us with the armor of salvation to fight the battle of faith against that triple alliance out of hell, the devil, the world of wickedness, and my own sinful flesh. Though I am weak, He is strong. Though I realize with increasing fears that without Him I can do nothing, He assures me that I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.
Truly my soul waits, waits upon the Almighty, “from Him cometh my salvation.”
In this coming year the nations will continue their ragings against God and His Anointed. Inflation, unemployment, labor disputes, international bankruptcy will only grow worse. instead of better. The whole world is pressing blindly down a dead-end street, for their trust is in man rather than in the living God. Sooner or later chaos must result, and out of that chaos will arise the Man of Sin, the Antichrist, as if he knows the solution to all the world’s ills. Like Roosevelt in the 30s, who taught us how to spend our way to a sham prosperity that ends in bankruptcy, so also the antichrist will create, an unprecedented period of prosperity that will plunge the whole world into swift: confusion and despair. The Scriptures are being fulfilled before our eyes every day. They speak of the hastening judgment of God upon a world that hardens itself in wickedness and boldly refuses to show any semblance of repentance.
But we see Jesus crowned with glory and honor in the highest heavens. Even as we see Him with an eye of faith, we hear Him assure us, “Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.”
He tells us that Sion, His Church, is a safe refuge. The righteous flee into it and are safe. There they celebrate the Sabbath of the resurrection of our Lord, and there they fix longing eyes upon the Sabbath, the Rest that remains for the people of God in heavenly glory, as they breathe the prayer: Come, “Lord Jesus, yea, come quickly.”
Why, O my soul, art thou cast down within me,
Why art thou troubled and oppressed with grief?
Hope thou in God, the God of thy salvation,
Hope and the Lord will surely send relief.