How natural it is for us to desire to be in the presence of the Master, to walk with him, to talk with him, and to behold his wondrous works! How pleasant to sit at his feet and learn of him! How often we think of those who enjoyed walking with him over the hills of Judea and wish for ourselves that glorious privilege! It is our privilege, though our natural eyes can not see him, to dwell in his presence, to commune with him, and to learn the deep things of God. In the secret closet we often seem to be very near to him, and how our souls would love to remain there, but ofttimes, like the man out of whom the devils were cast, we are not permitted to remain with the Lord; he sends us away.
When we feel ourselves apart from him, it is not always because we have wandered away, for often he finds it needful to send us away for some purpose. Even those who were privileged to be his closest companions while on earth were sent away from him from time to time on various missions. Sometimes he sent them with the message, |Go and tell.| Obedience to this took them away from his presence. Their eyes no longer saw his mighty works, nor did their ears hear his gracious words. They did not have the support of his presence, but found themselves apart from the Master. So we must often go out from him with a message, and, being apart from him in a sense, we shall ofttimes find ourselves needy and seeming to go on our own strength; but we must daily bear his message to the people, and while we are bearing it, what wonder if we are lonely sometimes? Like the disciples, however, when we have spoken our message, we may go back again into his presence.
One he sent away for investigation, saying, |Go ... show thyself to the priest.| Sometimes we must go out among our enemies and be a gazing-stock for them. We must be the object of their criticism, of their scoffs, of their mockings, and all this apart from the Master. But shall we not bear all these things and rejoice in them, that when we have returned to the Master, and are sitting in the quiet and silence at his feet, holding sweet converse with him, we may know we have wrought his will and glorified his name?
Sometimes he sends us forth to perils. |Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves.| But he also gives us the sweet assurance, |Nothing shall by any means hurt you.| His messengers now, as in the days of old, must face perils; and these perils must, in a sense, be faced away from the Master's presence.
Sometimes he sends to suffering. He said of Paul, |I will show him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake.| Even Christ himself was sent apart from the Father. He had to leave the glories of heaven and all that those meant, sacrifice all the honor that he had, with all his joys in the presence of the Father, and go to earth to be despised, mocked, hated, scourged, and crucified. Sometimes his spirit was heavy, and sorrow weighed him down, and at last, in the most trying hour, he felt his separation from his Father most keenly and cried out, |My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?| If it was necessary for the Son of God to go apart from the Father, to be sad and lonely and heavy-hearted, and at last feel himself forsaken, should we think it a strange thing if we sometimes have a similar experience?
How sweet to be with him in the secret closet and in the meetings with his saints! How it warms our hearts and fills us with courage and hope! But for our work's sake we must go apart and endure, sacrifice and suffer. We can not always see his smiling face. But there will be a time when we shall forever be with the Lord. Until the time shall come, let us be willing to obey him, even though it takes all the courage and fortitude we have. If we find ourselves apart from him, let us not accuse ourselves of wandering away, if we are doing the work of God. Heaven will be all the sweeter because of our having been, in this sense, apart from the Master here, and we shall be the better prepared to enjoy his presence when he comes for us.