"The Gift of Himself"
Salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ imparts to the trusting recipient the greatest gift our Heavenly Father could bestow upon us, namely, the gift of Himself. Remembrance of such truth provides the greatest possible assurance in times of difficulty that we do not face alone.
"Ye are the temple of the living God" declared the Apostle Paul to the believers of Corinth (II Corinthians 6:16). Paul also proclaimed the Lord's promise to His trusting children, I will dwell in them and walk in them." Finally, the Apostle wondrously wrote that God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying Abba, Father. The Gift of Himself, the most magnanimous bestowal possible by God to undeserving hearts such as our own.
In this same theme of blessed grace, the Lord Jesus promised, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee, I am with you always. Yes, in Christ, God provides an abundance of blessedness to those who believe, including forgiveness, newness of life, the promise of eternity in Heaven, a place in the family of God, and the assurance of His enabling to live in faithfulness and obedience. The list could go on and on regarding the grace our Father provides in His Son. However, His living presence within our hearts, as provided through the indwelling Holy Spirit, this constitutes the greatest of all gifts as in Christ, God gives to us Himself.
The little boy could not believe his ears when one evening, his father announced, "Tomorrow, son, tomorrow it's time for you to go into the deep, dark woods!"
The boy had often seen his father venture into the vast stand of trees that surrounded the family property. One of the things he loved and admired most about his dad was the man's seeming fearlessness concerning the dangers that might lie in the woods.
"Uh, Dad, did you say you think I should go into the deep, dark woods?" The boy gulped as he replied, barely looking at his father because he so feared that he might have correctly heard the fateful words.
The man replied without hesitation, even smiling as he did so. "Yes, son, tomorrow's the day. I have no doubt you're ready, and I'll wake you up at the crack of dawn for a good breakfast, and then, and then a journey into the forest! Your first journey!"
The boy slept little through a long, restless night. When he did, dreams, no, nightmares of what might lie in the forest startled him to wakefulness. How could it be that his dad thought he was ready for the deep, dark woods?! What might really lie in their fearful depths? What was his father thinking?!
Just before sunup, the boy heard a knock on his bedroom door, followed by the familiar voice. "Son, are you awake? It's time. Today's the day! It's time for you to go into the deep dark woods!" Once again, the little boy heard excitement in his dad's voice. "Yes, Dad, I'm awake" he responded. "Great son," said the father. "Get your clothes on and come to the kitchen. I'm making a big breakfast for you so you'll be ready for your big day!"
The little boy quietly uttered "Yes sir" and began to get dressed. As he put on his clothes, he thought about his father. First, he remembered again the courage and bravery of his dad. But then, he thought even more about how much his father loved him. He knew this was true! His dad showed him every day! So there must be something his father knew that the little boy didn't know. "If Dad thinks I'm ready, well…. I know I can trust him!"
The boy ate little of the breakfast his father prepared as the sun rose on what would be a fateful day. "Not hungry, son?" asked the father. The boy looked at his dad, still feeling uncertain about things ahead, but also trusting the man even more as he looked into his eyes. "No sir, not really" said the boy, speaking barely above a whisper. "I guess I'm just thinking about the trip into the deep, dar… The boy cut his sentence short, not even wanting to say the words.
"Ok son, get your backpack" the dad said with a smile, and I'll meet you out by the poplars," referring to the stand of hardwoods where an opening allowed entrance into the forest.
When the boy arrived at the spot, his dad was not yet there. This gave him time to look at and into the woods. They were beautiful, no doubt, especially as the rays of the rising sun shone through the branches and leaves. He had loved to look at them for as long as he could remember, from a safe distance, and he often lingered as he watched his dad disappear into the forest for his trips. How brave was his father! And how much the little boy felt he was not like him! A sense of shame began to couple with the fear churning inside, and tears formed in his eyes just as he heard his father's footsteps approaching. He gulped hard, and thought to himself again, "I can trust my dad!"
The man reached his son, and put his arm around the boy's shoulder. "All right, son, are you ready?" The boy quickly wiped a tear and looked up at his father. "Yes, Dad, I think so. I think I'm ready."
The father replied, "Me too, son. Ah, I've been waiting for this moment since the day your were born! There are so many things in these deep, dark woods I want to show you. So let's get going!"
The boy's father set out toward the opening in the poplars. His son, however, stood still, frozen in his tracks by the words he had just heard. Once again, he could hardly speak, but as best he could, the boy called out to his father, who had already reached the opening. "Dad… Dad, are you going with me?"
The father stopped and turned to face his son. He smiled and reached out for the boy in a motion that invited him to come and join him. "Of course I'm going with you, son! You're not yet ready for a journey into the deep, dark woods by yourself. Someday you will be, but this is not that day. No, not yet. Yes, I'm going with you into the deep, dark woods. We're going together, and I'm going to show you things I could never describe to you with words. It will be wonderful, and like I said, I've been waiting for this moment since the day you were born!" The man looked into his son's eyes. "Are you ready?"
Needless to say, the little boy was ready. He was more ready to journey into the deep, dark woods than anything he had ever pondered doing. His dad was going with him! His brave, strong father would accompany him every step of the way, and now the vast forest portended not of fear and uncertainty, but rather promised the wonder of discovery and awe. "Yes, I'm ready, Dad" the boy almost shouted. "I'm ready to go into the deep, dark woods!"
Whence we go, we go not alone. So long as our Heavenly Father journeys with us, it matters not whether we venture unto shining summits whereupon vistas of beauty await our awed eyes, or into deep, dark woods that threaten with seeming peril. Whence we go, we shall not go alone. "I am with you always" promised the Lord Jesus, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee" (Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5). In Christ, God gives to us Himself. Thus, we can face anything and everything with the assurance that the Lord Jesus will be everything we need Him to be in every moment, in every contingency, in every venue. Indeed, let us remember the One who is always with us, and never to leave us - this is the promise of He who cannot lie. "Are you ready?" He asks. Let us respond, Oh yes, Father, I am ready!
"The Lord of hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our refuge."
Weekly Memory Verse
I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed.