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Concerning Taking All As From God

This entry is part 5 of 22 in the series Soul-Help Papers (Isaiah Reid)

Public Domain1

Chapter 4 of Soul-Help Papers2
Isaiah Reid

Chapter title overlaid on a rayed-sunrise-behind-a-cloud image, a photo by Eberhard Grossgasteiger on Unsplash.com“I am convinced that I have missed much
in all my past by not going to Jesus
with the good things in my life.”3

As I sat down for my morning lesson, I said, “Now, Lord, I want to read for myself. I read for study and to speak to others; but now talk to me, not what to say to others so much, as talk to me especially.” So I opened the book, and the first thing He said was, “Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth” (Proverbs 27:1).

At first I feared some bad accident, or bad news, or some ill; and then it seemed as if He really could not mean to frighten me about tomorrow, but rather to teach me to make ready for it, and how best to come to its threshold. Adam Clarke4 says his old manuscript Bible reads, “Glory not thou in one dwelling.”5 That is, don’t build too much on the continuance of the present; it does not abide. Then I remembered what James had said about the treasures of this world and its “grace and fashion passing away.”6

As I was considering these things, in came the brother who went for the morning mail, which was usually full, and he did not bring me even a postal card. I was away from home and lived in daily expectancy of what the postal department might bring me. I had to confess to a certain measure of disappointment. I found I had been building quite largely on things going on as they had been, and getting a good bunch of mail. How was it I felt the loss? Yet how could I feel it unless I had been counting on the mail? I had fixed things up that way. I was simply looking for the fulfillment of my plans, and when my plan was not His, I was disappointed. Is this not always the trouble? But building on His plan, who ever failed? Endorsing and adopting His will, who ever came to disappointment?

“But,” you say, “what about the providential things, the allotment of things over which I have no control? These trouble me. How about these?”

I think the sooner we can come to the reckoning which puts even the outside world in the order of God, and especially so as it reaches us, the better. A certain writer and strong thinker is reported to have said: “No one knocks at my door who is not sent by God.”7 At first this may seem more than we wish to admit. It certainly involves a measure of responsibility which appalls us. But is there anything more involved in it than in the statement, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you”?8 If the devil cannot come into our door without our permission, then what else can, that is less than he? If the Prince of evil is ruled into such regulation, what is there less than he, that can approach farther than our door unless we aid in unbarring it? Hannah Whitall Smith says, “To the children of God everything comes directly from the Father’s hand, no matter who or what may have been the apparent agents.”9

We may be ready to admit this respecting that which we can see ministers to our well being, but what of the crosses, the vexations, the perplexities, and the deprivations? How can these be ruled into profit? By the use we make of them. The poet has taught us to sing:

So by our woes to be
Nearer, my God, to Thee.10

Respecting either today or tomorrow, a good rule, as the author of What is Worth While says concerning the disposal of time, is to learn: “We are spending the time well when we are paying it out to God to buy the things He means our lives to own, whether He is putting before us a duty to be done, a friend to be won, a small service to be rendered, a book to be written, a child to be consoled, or a house to be set in order.”11

Think these last lines over well. You may find them useful in a thousand things that will come to you soon. Suppose I have a letter to write, and growl about it. Then I miss a chance of doing one more thing for God. Suppose I rebel against my call to some hard work, then there is another lost opportunity? Have I considered that even in the winning of a friend I may render service to God? You see, it all lies in how we take things.

If we, like Job, receive them from God, we shall get their use, their highest and best use. Are you separated from a friend whose presence you miss? Take the occasion as from Jesus, and see how He can dry your tears. Do you miss the meeting you so much wished to attend? Get your Bible and steal away into your closet and tell Jesus. There tell Him how your heart longed for the meeting, and how you desired to be there; remember He is interested in your case, and find how He will so manifest Himself that you will have a meeting that makes you know there is nothing better where you desired to go. Tell Him how you loved your absent friend, and He will not be a disinterested party. Learn to find, and even seek, Jesus manifested in your friends, and He will show you things “that thou knowest not,”12 and reveal that which surprises you.

Is there a cross before you? Do not run from it. Say, “I did not ask this, Jesus, did not expect it, but now that You have sent it, I must find the honey there is in that rock,13 and the victory in mastering and killing that giant.”14 And you will find Him teaching your hands to make war and your fingers to fight,15 and giving you strength to overcome. People backslide not on their knees, but on their heels with their back to the foe. To cower and shrink and complain of crosses is to fail at the outset to master them. Accept them from God, and find the Canaan He has for you on the heaven side of them.

The disagreeable, the unpleasant things, the very things we are apt to snarl at and fret about, are as much a part of the allotment as the sunshine of prosperity and the mountaintop views. The sweetest rest is after the hardest toil; the greatest rejoicing after the hardest fight; and the sweetest love after the quarrel has been made up. There is health in the bread of adversity,16 and honey in the carcasses of all our slain lions.17

Looking at the coming tomorrow in this light, how the shadows will flee away and the bridges we feared to cross vanish into thin air at our approach! No, it does not take away trials and crosses or disappointments, nor save us from seasons of circumstantial darkness. It teaches us how to make chariots of them to ride into higher spiritual uplands.

Life is a process. It is not a “has been” nor a “shall be,” it IS,—an endless becoming. Today may boast over yesterday, but not over tomorrow, for tomorrow should be better than today; but even that depends on what we make of today. If I am so satisfied today that I would make no effort to get tomorrow’s increase, it may find me defeated. Things do not remain satisfactorily with me as they are, unless I keep step with my opportunities. The joy of today which seems so sweet may speed away when the soul’s equilibrium which poised it has been disturbed. Tomorrow, if it comes, may find me in the fields of hard toil and temptation, and hours of heaviness. The soul is in the hard fight where a bare faith on a bare promise, with nothing else in sight, must gain the day. Many of today’s friendships are evanescent, their circumstantial life subject to multiform changes. Health of body and surplusage of vital energy and natural forces of flesh and spirit may fail on us tomorrow, and the soul be compelled to reckon its forces from other channels.

Tomorrow may find us washed ashore by the current of the world, stranded as wreckage, because we are no longer physically able to go out into life’s battle and turmoil. We vainly think we can go on as we are. It is not God’s way. We count without our host. Wisdom lies in our provision for the unexpected, not on counting today’s treasures and proceeding to build greater barns and make arrangements for the continuing of things as they are.18 The unseen only is eternal; the temporal perishes.

Well, the mail brought me nothing, nor did any disaster come on the morrow; but there came a shadow over my spirit of a peculiar nature, not at all by intention, but by one of those retrospective views we often have of an hour after it passes. For a time it bore heavily on my fears. It affected the tone of my spirit for a season. I was counting on things going on so smoothly. Instead I had encountered a rough sea. I had been thinking the today condition of things was to be in the smooth going of yesterday. How changed it really was! The shadow remained for a time in heaviness. We began the evening service, and at first the somber shade seemed to affect the wings of faith and hinder the chariot wheels. I was conscious this was only in the region of my own spiritual world, and that the atmosphere of other souls was not so obscured, except perhaps as it may have been affected by my appearance and modified by my expression. Shortly, however, it passed away and the old sunlight broke over all my landscape. I had learned a lesson about building too much on yesterday’s, or even today’s, material joys, comforts, associations, and the passing aspects of feelings and transient interests. Do you ask when the tide turned? It was when I took the whole matter to Him and laid the whole thing before Him, and took the whole thing as from Him, and asked Him to show me what it all meant and teach me the lesson He designed to give.

I am convinced that I have missed much in all my past by not going to Jesus with the good things in my life—my love for my friends, my friendships, and all the good things I am allowed to have and enjoy—and have run more to Him with my troubles. With my earthly friends I find I want to tell them my joys, and when I have a good thing I want them to share it. Indeed it is doubly sweet if I can share it. My best friends do the same with me. As Jesus wants to be our best friend, is it not fair to suppose that He will be pleased if we are as free with Him, and that our friend will be all the dearer if we go and tell Jesus of our joy and fellowship that we have found in one of His children? If we have been made happy by some special manifestation of His grace, and the fire of love to Him has been rekindled afresh in our life, must we not reckon that Jesus is pleased to have us tell Him?

He is truly a burden-bearer, but bless the Lord, He is also a love-sharer. We come to love’s deepest when we tell all, for only then can we trust all. It is only when we take all into the banquet house of love that we get all our supplies from thence. Take all to God, and so get all from God.



  1. The text itself is public domain. The original book, Soul-Help Papers, was transcribed by Jim Kerwin, biographer of Isaiah Reid, and co-edited and emended with Denise Kerwin. Annotations and emendations are copyright © 2008 by Jim Kerwin along with his other contributions to the online, print, and e-book versions of Isaiah Reid’s Soul-Help Papers.
  2. This chapter originally appeared in Isaiah Reid’s column in Christian Witness (14 January 1897, pages 6-7), in a long-running series called “Morning by Morning.”
  3. Title image created using an image by Eberhard Grossgasteiger on https://unsplash.com/@eberhardgross.
  4. Adam Clarke (1760?-1832) is famed for his exhaustive work which is still used by preachers and Bible teachers today—A Commentary and Critical Notes on the Holy Bible, Old and New Testaments, Designed as a Help to Better Understanding of the Sacred Writings (or, as most readers refer to it, Clarke’s Commentary).
  5. Reid is very loosely paraphrasing Clarke in his commentary on Proverbs 27:1 (the verse Isaiah is considering):

    “My old MS. {manuscript} Bible translates thus: Ne glorie thou into the morewenning. Here we see the derivation of our word morning; morewenning, from more, and wen or won, to dwell, i.e., a continuance of time to live or dwell in your present habitation. Every man wishes to live longer, and therefore wishes for to-morrow; and when to-morrow comes, then to-morrow, and so on.”

  6. James 1:11
  7. It isn’t clear from whom the quoted words originally came, but almost the entire sentence is liberally quoted from Dr. Anna Robertson Brown Lindsay’s book What Is Worth While? (“A strong thinker once said, ‘No one knocks at my door who is not sent from God,’” comes from page 16 of that work, published in 1893.) Not much farther along in this chapter, Reid attributes the book (though not the author by name).
  8. James 4:7
  9. Reid quotes from the most famous book by Hannah Whitall Smith (1820-1911), The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life, a spiritual classic which is still in print.
  10. These lines are from the fourth verse of Sarah F. Adams’ hymn Nearer, My God, to Thee.
  11. Lindsay, What Is Worth While, pages 16-17
  12. Jeremiah 33:3
  13. Deuteronomy 32:13; Psalm 81:16
  14. The allusion is primarily to David and Goliath (1 Samuel 17), though others in scripture had similar success, including Elhanan ben-Jair (1 Chronicles 20:4-8).
  15. Psalm 144:1; also Psalm 18:34 and 2 Samuel 22:35
  16. The allusion is to Isaiah 30:20.
  17. This allusion is from the life of Samson (Judges 14:5-9).
  18. Luke 12:16-21, especially verses 18-19
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