A Great While Before Day
"And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed." (Mark 1:35)
I got a great lift recently in reading the first chapter of Mark's Gospel. When I came to verse 35, I had to stop and give thanks to God, for as by a flash of light from heaven I was made to realize that I could never be up too early for the Lord. My troubles may begin with my first conscious moment, but He has risen up before them, and is always ready for them. He is always ahead of them and of me. And with Him there is the needed grace to carry me through every trouble, whenever and wherever they may arise.
The statement I have quoted is a most beautiful one. The Lord had many towns to visit, had much service to do in them, had many needs to meet and sorrows to sooth; the miseries of the multitudes would surge about Him when the day awoke, but they would not take Him by surprise or overwhelm Him, for He had risen up before them all, and was prepared for every one of them; the supplies in Him were equal to the day's demands. He viewed the whole range of those demands in communion with His Father. Each individual case passed before Him, and was the subject of His intercession in that solitary place into which He went to pray.
Isaiah 50:4 comes forcibly and blessedly to the mind at this point. "The Lord God has given me the tongue of the learned [disciple] that I should know how to speak a word in season to [succour by a word] him that is weary: He wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned [learner, or disciple]". Wonderful description of our Lord's life of service on earth!
But not less wonderful than His life now, for He ever lives to make intercession for us; and intercession is communion (see Genesis 18:33); communion between the Intercessor and God with whom He intercedes about the subjects of His intercession. And the intercession is made and heard before the need arises in its strength. "I have prayed for thee," He said to Peter while yet He was all unconscious — fast asleep as to having any need at all.
Great is the encouragement that the contemplation of Him in His life of service while on earth yields for us, for in that service HE SHOWED HIMSELF, and He does not change; His readiness to meet all need is the same now as then and the grace with which He does it is unabated. If the thousands of God's saints who are burdened and groaning, whose light for God is almost extinguished under a load of care, are to be raised up and revived, if they are to lift their heads as overcomers and sing instead of sigh they must realize this great fact.
The Lord rose up before their need, He knew it all before it awoke to perplex and worry them; this must not be a mere article of their faith to which they give an indifferent and perhaps a reluctant assent, but a deep conviction in their souls which will make them yield themselves and the day's burdens to Him at the beginning of it, which will make them cast all their care upon Him.
I am in no sort of doubt that I am on the right line here, and I urge this great fact, this blessed, encouraging, peace-giving fact, upon my readers, your needs are never ahead of the Lord; they may have surprised you, but they have not taken Him by surprise. I preach in this paper an all-sufficient Christ — ever ready, ever able, ever willing; who rose up a great while before the day of your troubles awoke.
And I further urge each reader to read what I write for himself, and without reference to another, to read as though this paper were a particular and private message addressed to himself alone; and to say, "This burden that has grown so heavy and presses upon me so sorely was all known to the Lord before I felt it at all, and He rose up before it, if not to remove it, to carry me through it. I will go to Him about it, and lay it all from my side at His feet, for I and it have been and are the objects of His particular interest and thought."
It is a marvellous thing to draw near to Him with a sense of this in the soul; to know that before I awoke in the morning He had risen up and was thinking of me, and was waiting and prepared to hear and answer my waking cry. It fills the soul with awe and with gratitude, with awe because of what He is, with gratitude because He is all that He is for me. Is this a selfish view of things?
It is only as we view things in this way that we shall be delivered from self and selfishness — for it is help from the Lord that delivers — the grace that is in Him, that stoops from the height of His glory to the depth of our need. It is Himself and His abundant sufficiency that lifts us out of our selfishness and sets us free to praise Him and live the day's life without murmuring and disputing.
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