TROUBLES OF LINGERING AT THE CROSSING
Some time ago I consecrated to God for entire sanctification and thought I was sanctified. Then I began to doubting whether I was wholly sanctified; so I consecrated again. This I have done a number of times; in fact, so many times that I don't know what to do. Can you help me any in this difficulty? I am in doubts about my consecration. I am as consecrated as I know how to be, yet there is a feeling of unreality and uncertainty about it that is distressing, and I have found no way to end my distress. I am almost ashamed to tell how many times I have consecrated, and I am ashamed to tell the Lord that I am; for I have doubted so much that I am not sure of myself. My faith is weak also. If you can help me, I shall be very thankful.
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The story of Pilgrim Exactly will probably be interesting, as well as helpful, to you. He told me the story. I will tell it to you as well as I can remember it.
Pilgrim Exactly crossed the Jordan for Canaan the first time twenty-two years ago, and he had never got away from the place where people cross over. Every now and then you could have seen him examining his memorial stone; and by and by he would pick it up, wade out as far as possible, drop his stone with a pathetic sigh, and then go on back to the wilderness side the best way he could. However, he did not stay over there long, but soon started for Canaan again. He always aimed to and vowed that he would select another memorial stone; but, mind you, he always came out with the same one he first brought over.
Do you ask why he did such a thing? The reason is simply this, brother: Pilgrim Exactly wanted to be so sure that he was in Canaan that he was never quite sure that he was there. He was not satisfied with the best of evidence. No one was brighter in the wholly-sanctified experience than he, nor did any one cross over into Canaan with any better evidence of his crossing than did he. But there is a bad, little, dwarfed giant named Doubtful, who lives close about the crossing-place, a half-brother to old Giant Doubt. Doubtful kept company with this pilgrim. More than likely that was one source of his trouble. The strongest pilgrims warned Exactly of the pernicious plots of this little, hard old dwarf, but he seemed not to heed their warnings.
Exactly would plant his memorial stone with a look that says, |It is done for the last time!| Then Doubtful would slip up to him, and this is practically what one present would have seen and heard:
Pilgrim Exactly: |By the grace of God, I solemnly promise never to doubt my experience of sanctification again, no never. Lord, hear my vow, never, never to doubt again! I have staid by the crossing too long now. I must explore Canaan.|
Giant Doubtful: |Good morning, dear Pilgrim. Are you sure you got this stone out of the right place this time? Seems to me, too, it is the same old stone you have brought over ever so often. You know you have never been satisfied with that memorial, and I do not see how you can be, either. Isn't it doubtful whether you really crossed the Jordan? Your consecration is likely faulty, and you know your faith is weak. Better be careful. You do not want to be deceived, do you?|
Exactly, wiping the sweat from his face: |That is a fact. This is the same old stone. My God, can't I get a better experience than this? O Lord, help!| And the poor Pilgrim would seem the very embodiment of distress.
Doubtful: |It is my opinion that something is wrong somewhere. Probably you crossed too soon. Maybe you have left something out of your consecration. By the way, were you not neglectful of duty yesterday? And then, you know, you promised God you never would doubt. Now just see, you are doubting somewhat at this minute. It is to be seen that you have failed somewhere. I believe you had better try it again. Something is wrong! you had better try it over.| And dwarf Doubtful would rattle on much more in the same strain.
Just then Pilgrim Exactly would feel of his side, and his hand would touch the handle of the sword of the Spirit. Just when he would about draw it to deal Giant Doubtful a blow, Doubtful would say, |There can be no harm in being sure. If you cross over Jordan properly you will be satisfied, and it will not take long to go back and do a really thorough work of it.|
At this Exactly wilted, dropped the sword, staggered toward his memorial stone, and, lifting it to his shoulders, limped back toward the Jordan to cross and recross again.
But the next day when Pilgrim Exactly got over into Canaan with the same stone, because there was no other stone in there when he crossed, as every man has his own stone, he would plant it as before.
One day, however, after planting the stone, he said, |By the grace of God, I am done with doubting.|
When the little old dwarf Giant Doubtful came out that day, Pilgrim Exactly swung a terrific cut with the sword straight at the dwarf's neck. Doubtful never before ran so fast as he did getting away from that trusty sword. Since then Exactly has advanced into the land, overcome several other giants, and won a home for himself in Canaan.
The feeling of unreality which you have in regard to your consecration may be the result of your vacillation. No one can feel sure of his condition if he consecrates and then deserts his word, consecrates again and then doubts that. All of this should and must be cut off shortly by your honoring your own word and refusing to be confused about it. It can be ended by gathering yourself in hand in coming to a real, final conclusion in favor of your sanctification. If you are as consecrated as you know how to consecrate, then that should be sufficient. In that case, all you lack is to bring the affair to a point, a conclusion, and give it all over to God, and let that be the end of it.
Now that you are ready to make this final decision, it will be worth while for you to examine your consecration. Are there any idols to which your affections fondly cling? Is it a delight to do something for Christ in behalf of others? Does it seem hard for you to give of your money to the blessed cause? Is prayer a burden? Are you really all the Lord's? Do not make the mistake of thinking a good disposition toward Jesus is consecration. To consecrate means to come definitely to the point of yielding all up to Christ once forever.
Possibly one reason for your feeling of unreality is because you can not see God and can not hear Him say, |I receive you.| If God could be right before you as a visible person while you knelt and gave yourself to Him, you might think your experience more real. But it would not be. His word has been given, and it is |him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out| (John 6:37), and He asks us to |bring ... all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it| (Malachi 3:10). Faith comes in all our dealings with God. He may appear not to notice us; but rest assured that He does.
Of course, after consecrating and doubting you have lost confidence in yourself; but this, too, should end quickly, and it will if you pursue a right course. To recover your self-reliance, self-balance, dismiss all the discouraging and doubtful thoughts about yourself. Take a real inventory of yourself. What are you, anyway? Are you honest? Does your word mean anything? Can you carry out a resolution? a decision? Very well then, refuse to be bothered about the past. Quit thinking of the past; utterly dismiss it from mind, and calmly and deliberately consecrate, and mean it.
Another difficulty in regard to consecration is that you may think you have lost yours when it is a trial sometimes to live up to it. You may think that to be consecrated means that every duty will seem delightful. In this you are mistaken. Did not Jesus, at one with the Father in will and mind, pray three times, 'O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me. Nevertheless not my will, but thine be done'? Some of the things God may lay on you or allow to be laid upon you are hard things, things which you will have to ask God for grace to do or bear. The crucial test, however, is will you do or bear them? If, in spite of the temptation to evade or go around God's will, you do obey, then your consecration is perfect.
Then, soul, end all this uncertainty, end all this unreality by coming now to the altar of God and placing thereon your whole self-life, body, soul, spirit, heart, talents, time, goods and gold, will, and all else. Tie it securely by one strong indomitable, irrevocable decision of your will. Count yourself all the Lord's. Begin to reckon and consider every event of your life in this light.
Allow nothing to come between you and God; let Him be first and be all to you.
Please do not think of this dedication as in any wise meritorious, or capable of purchasing any blessing. It is nothing on these points. Consecration is placing yourself in an attitude or position where God can have His way with you. And this He asks you to do for your good. As long as any of your will stands in His way, He can not pour out the Holy Ghost upon you, and neither could you enjoy the fullness of salvation.
Nothing is quite so good as the will of God, nothing so adorable. In that will is bound up for you the noblest life, the fullest and freest expression of your individuality, the best adaptation and use of your talents, the greatest joy, the sweetest pleasures, the quietest rest, the purest delights in this world and pleasures forever at God's right hand.
Oh, embrace that will of God! Seek it, hide in it, revel in it, be enthusiastic about it, run to it. Oh, never evade it, fight shy of it, neglect it, nor refuse it! Dropping into God's will means dropping into our own niche in life and being happy in fulfilling our destiny as God has marked out by His infinite wisdom.