Retirement, Then Service

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Moses spent forty years in the house of Pharaoh; and while his sojourn there was not without its influence and value, yet it was as nothing when compared with his sojourn in the desert. The former might be valuable; but the latter was invaluable, and indispensable. Nothing can possibly make up for the lack of secret communion with the Father, or the training and discipline of His school. “All the wisdom of the Egyptians” would not have qualified Moses for his future path. He might have pursued a most brilliant course through the schools and colleges of Egypt. He might have come forth laden with literary honors—his intellect stored with learning, and his heart full of pride and self-sufficiency.

He might have taken out his degree in the school of man, and yet have to learn his alphabet in the school of the Father. Mere human wisdom and learning, how valuable so ever in themselves, can never constitute any one a servant of the Father, nor equip him for any department of divine service. Such things may qualify un-renewed nature to figure before the world, but the man whom the Father will use must be endowed with widely different qualifications—such qualifications as can alone be found in the deep and hallowed retirement of the Father’s presence.

All true servants of the Father have been made to know and experience the truth of these statements. Moses at Horeb, Elijah at Cherith, Ezekiel at Chebar, Paul in Arabia and John at Patmos, are all striking examples of the immense practical importance of being alone with the Father. When we look at the Divine Servant, we find that the time He spent in private was nearly ten times as long as that which He spent in public. He, though perfect in understanding and in will, spent nearly thirty years in the obscurity of a carpenter’s house at Nazareth before He made His appearance in public. And even when He had entered upon His public career, how often He retreated from the gaze of men to enjoy the sweet and sacred retirement of the Divine Presence!

Now we may feel disposed to ask, “How could the urgent demand for workman ever be met if all need such protracted training in secret before they come forth to their work”? This is the Master’s care—not ours. He can provide workmen, and He can train them also. This is not man’s work. The Father alone can provide a true minister. Nor is it a question with Him as to the length of time needful for the education of such an individual. We know He could educate him in a moment, if it were His will to do so.

One thing is evident, namely, that the Father has had all His servants very much alone with Himself, both before and after their entrance upon their public work; nor will anyone truly get on without this. The absence of secret training and discipline will necessarily leave us barren, superficial and theoretic. A man who ventures forth upon a public career before he has duly weighed himself in the balances of the sanctuary, or measured himself in the presence of his Father, is like a ship putting out to sea without proper ballast: he will doubtless overturn with the first stiff breeze. On the contrary, there is a depth, a solidity and a steadiness flowing from our having passed from form to form in the school of our Father, which are essential elements in the formation of the character of a true and effective servant of the Father.

- C H Mackintosh




MJS devotional for June 13:

“There is no personal knowledge of God but as we count on Him, as we are practically conscious of depending on Him and of His caring for us. One without straits, and victories, really has no growing acquaintance with God; and where there is not this, however great the intelligence or sincerity, there is little or no savor.” – M J S

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