This glorious little chapter opens before us with the call from Winslow to search our hearts to see how we so often can be consumed with our cares and woes that we more times than not forget to look unto Jesus for our sweet relief.
But do you not, beloved reader, need to be put in constant remembrance of this divine secret of rest amidst toil, of repose amidst disquietude, of soothing amidst corroding cares, and of confidence and hope in the midst of change and depression? Bewildered and oppressed by the multitude of anxious thoughts within you, is there not a danger of being so absorbed by the care as to overlook the Caretaker? to forget the heart’s ease in the overwhelming of the heart’s anxiety? Verily we think so.
Although it may be easily stated that this inward looking to self may be contributed to our self-reliance, pride, and our own ability to cope with the issues that so easily press in around us, I think it may be more properly stated that it is in these moments that we just simply forget who we are in Christ and that in our feeble state we need constant reminding to lift up our heads to the Author and Perfector of our faith… no matter how weak that faith may presently be.
The cares of this life enter deeply into the carefulness of which the Lord seeks to lighten us. In proportion to the spiritual tone of the mind, and the closeness of the heart’s converse with God and heavenly realities, will be the tenderness of the believer to the chafing and pressure of temporal cares. The more heavenly we grow, the more acutely sensitive do we become to the encroachment and influence of earth and earthly things.
Such a blessed mark of God’s children, yet such a troublesome mark at the same time. When the regenerated soul and mind grows all the more acutely sensitive to the heavenly call with which it has been set to does the world and its troubles begin to bombard the believers mind as cannon fire to a ships hull. So earnestly do we now yearn and strive for heavenly thought and likeness, yet the sharp contrast of the world’s fallen state seems to becloud our souls to make us feel the remaining chains this worlds still holds us by. It becomes all too easy to sit and stew in our woe and discomfort and ultimately to forget that we are to still keep looking ahead of our current positions unto Jesus and where He now waits for us.
Then, there often presses upon the heart the anxiety to know the path of duty in which we should walk. This is no small care to the child of God. We are often brought to a stand-still, and are, as it were, at our wits’ end. Two paths, intersecting each other, diverging to the right and to the left, confront us, and we are perplexed to know which one we should take.
I think that this particular care can become overwhelmingly burdensome especially to babes in Christ who have not yet blossomed into the flowering maturity of being able to rest in the assurance that God is always working all things for our good and that He is worthy to be trusted in making our paths straight and sure. We live in a world and in a time where we want instant answers and resolutions to all of our problems and questions. To be able to wait on the Lord is indeed a grace much needed in our day!
But there are greater cares than these—the spiritual cares of the soul—which often press heavily upon the heart. You are anxious to know that you have an interest in Christ’s redeeming love,—that your name is written among the living in Jerusalem,—that your sins are pardoned,—that your person is adopted, accepted, saved,—and that after death you will reign with Jesus for ever. You are anxious, too, that your Christian walk should be obedient, perceptive, believing; that you should be more heavenly-minded, growing in knowledge, and grace, and divine conformity to the will of God and the image of Jesus. Ah! these are cares before which all others vanish into insignificance!
He who travailed in sorrow for your salvation is personally, tenderly cognizant of the anxious, the profoundly anxious, desire of your soul that there may not rest the shadow of a shade of doubt and uncertainty upon the fact of its everlasting safety. You are not alone in this soul-exercise. Jesus is with you. The travel of your heart after him, the panting of your spirit for His salvation, the longing of your soul for an assured interest in His love,—your tears, your sighs, your desires, your prayers, your watchings,—awaken in the heart of your Saviour the deepest, tenderest response.
I think we tend to view Jesus at many times like He is sort of just “out there” and that He would not be able to understand the soul sufferings we often go through. We could not be more wrong about that! We have a High Priest who is able to understand our weakness and concerns as He himself once walked in these paths at one time. He does indeed know the frailty of our faith at times and waits at all times for us to turn from our anxious ways and turn to Him for security and comfort in times of trouble.
But you will ask, How is this transfer of care to be made? In the directions which we suggest we would give prominence to the exercise of unquestioning faith. Here there must be a taking God at His word.
Will you, then, wound Him with your doubts, dishonour Him by your unbelief, and force from under you, buffeting, as you are, amidst the waves, this divine, sustaining plank—faith in the word and promise of the only true and living God?
The life blood which we believers now live upon is our faith. It is the muscle which is able to move mountains! And like any muscle, it must be exercised (tried) to become stronger. The word of God is the weight bench in which that muscle may now be built up and strengthened. To read the promises in the holy scriptures is one thing, but it is quite another to grab hold of them and to “lift them” again and again to strengthen our faith and thus increase our confidence and trust in Christ all the more. Doubts and anxiety begin to become more and more faint the more we exercise our faith in the gymnasium of the word of the Lord!
Not less potent is prayer as a mean of transferring care to God. God often sends the care to rouse us to call upon Him. We want an errand, and He sends a trial; we want an impulse, and He sends a sorrow; we want earnestness and importunity, and He sends the heavy and the continuous stroke—all His waves breaking over us. Prayer is the safety valve of the soul. The heart would break, the spirit would sink, despair would fold its dark shroud around us, but for the privilege of access to God through Christ.
The most obvious means of care transfer is that of prayer, yet, it is so often overlooked. While the trusting of a promise in the believers bosom is a much more secretive and discrete function, prayer requires the laying aside of all earthly duty and business and focusing our hearts care solely with our God. It is indeed true that we may send silent prayers to the Lord all throughout our day when the need arises, but nothing can replace prayer done in that special secret place in which the believers soul may become unhitched from this wilderness trial and may be brought into full communicative communion with our Lord who cares for us completely. Oh precious hour of prayer!
Winslow then concludes this chapter with a few observations of caution to his readers.
Do not anticipate care. By anticipating care, and thus antedating your future, you grieve the Spirit of God, wound your own peace, and unfit yourself for present duty and trial.
Sit not brooding over your state, deploring its existence, and lamenting your want of more faith, and grace, and love. Arise, responsive to the precept, and cast your burden upon the Lord, and He will sustain both you and it. This inordinate absorption within yourself will bring to you no relief, no heart’s ease, and no nourishment to faith. One uplifted glance—one sight of Jesus—one believing touch of the promise of God, will bring more repose to your anxious spirit, more succor to your burdened mind, than a lifetime of self-absorption.
I love practical advice. And this is for sure good counsel from an experienced believer. To fret and worry for tomorrows provision is not only disobedience to a direct command of the Lord, but it only fuels the fire of anxiety within and fosters unbelief in the soul. You are so much important to Him than sparrows or blades of grass. You are bought with his Sons precious blood and He will not forsake the one whom He has applied the sacred blood upon! Trust Him for today. Trust Him for tomorrow. Trust Him for all!
Lastly, keep yourself from morbid naval gazing. This is an area in which I personally struggle mightily and have at times almost become paralyzed by my failures, shortcomings, and recurring sins. It is indeed healthy to examine oneself to test our spiritual condition and progress, but it must be tempered with a constant looking to the alien righteousness that is not of ourselves that is ultimately the substance which God now looks upon for our justification before Him!
Please read Chapter 8: Self Communion which will be due on March 14!