I think of Steve often during each day, but this time of year others kindly tell me their
memories of him, for it was when the leaves turned golden in October that Steve went to be with the Lord. Three dear friends who knew him well came to Wisconsin to be with me. Jill, a nurse who worked with Steve said, “Even when my office was at the other end of the clinic, I could hear his laugh echoing through the halls daily. There was a the joy that constantly bubbled up in him and overflowed to everyone.”
Steve enjoyed God, that I know.
Though Steve has gone to be with the Lord, his legacy lives on through the many he touched. He inspired me and I wrote so much about him in The God of All Comfort. I recently was encouraged to hear that this book was being used with some of the grieving families who lost children at Sandy Hook, who have, in my mind, almost unimaginable pain. It is the powerful truths of God that are giving them hope, truths that Steve embraced, making him the joyful man he was. As the bride is described in The Song of Songs, enjoying the beauty and love of her Lord, so did Steve. His life was a well-watered garden that bore fruit, fruit of love, peace, and JOY.
What was Steve’s secret? It was a secret Hudson Taylor knew, and learned from his mentor, George Mueller.
I think it will surprise you.
Here is a picture of George Mueller, who founded so many caring orphanages in the 1800’s. The reason people look so stern in photographs before 1900 is because they had to hold their pose for ten minutes. Yet even in George Mueller’s photograph, I see the hint of a smile. That same irrepressible smile that was in my husband Steve.
What was the secret?
Here it is, from Mueller himself:
The first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day, to have MY SOUL HAPPY IN THE LORD. The first thing to be concerned about was not, how much I might serve the Lord, how I might glorify the Lord; but how I might get my soul into a happy state, and how my inner man might be nourished.
Isn’t that amazing? Nothing about service, just about getting “my soul happy in the Lord.” I do believe, that in today’s English that would translate to the concept of “joy.” From that habit came great fruit, including the caring of thousands of children, loving them well.
My daughter Anne said, “Every night I would hear Dad in his den (which was above her bedroom) singing with all his heart to the Lord. I liked it.”
When we abide, we become like a well-watered garden, bearing fruit that blesses everyone around us.
You may be thinking, So you are saying the secret is a quiet time? That’s it?
As Tim Keller would say: “Yes. And no.” There are quiet times that feed our idols, there are quiet times that do not connect our souls with the Lord, and there are quiet times in which we experience the presence and beauty of God. Those are the quiet times that carry us through the day. Today, sadly, Christianity has become so much about truth and so little about enjoying God. The Song of Songs can help us.
So this week, each day, I am going to guide you, with Mueller’s help, into getting your soul happy in the Lord. Then our souls will be like well-watered gardens.
IT’S GOING TO BE A GREAT WEEK!
1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
Music can prepare a heart — listen to a song that helps you — or perhaps this one from last week:
Read this one page guideline from George Mueller: Link
2. Summarize how Mueller went about making his soul happy in the Lord each morning.
3. Comment on beginning with Scripture rather than prayer, allowing Scripture to lead you into prayer. (Keller does this as well.)
4. Now do this with just one verse. Here is the challenge. Meditate on Song of Songs 4:7 and come up with at least five observations. Some questions that might help you look: (Is there a promise to be believed — a command to be obeyed? Where else does this truth occur in this book — in Scripture? What phrases stand out? Why?)
5. Respond to the above verse in prayer: praise, confession, petition.
There must be some Christians who have infiltrated NBC morning news, for on their “faith Fridays” they have already interviewed Tim Keller and Tullian Tchividijian. Last week Tullian spoke some very “foreign” thoughts on grace, comparing it to a roller coaster ride — both scary and enthralling, for we have no control. They kept asking him what we do to get it! He kept repeating,that’s it, we can’t do anything. We can plead for it — but it is up to God. We have no control. It’s like a roller coaster ride, so just enjoy it. You will have ups and downs, but the One who is in control knows what He is doing and loves you more than anyone on earth ever could.
This is a great nine minute interview with Tullian: Link
6. Comment on the above.
7. Meditate on verse 8. Mueller would slow down, contemplating phrases, using cross-references. Today we can google things to help us understand better. For example, when I googled the peak of Hermon I discovered what a dangerous place it is even today…
A. Meditate – do research – what do you learn?
B. Is there a passage that has similar thoughts?
George Mueller was a mentor to Hudson Taylor. Both men founded mighty missions that had the unusual characteristic of not asking for funds, but praying and trusting God to provide. Hudson Taylor wrote only one book, and it was on The Song of Songs, and is called “Intimacy with Jesus.” He faced enormous dangers in founding China’s Inland Mission. He writes on the above verse: “What fear is there in the lion’s den when the Lion of Judah is with us? ‘I will fear no evil, for you are with me!’”
C. Respond to verse 8 in prayer: praise, confession, petition.
Sing or listen to a praise song to warm your heart. Here is one a silent blogger suggested:
Read aloud Song of Songs 4:9-12
8. Meditate on these two names he calls her (he calls us!) My sister, my bride. Share your thoughts.
9. Describe what her love (your love!) means to him in verses 9-10.
10. There was a moment in one of Mike Reeve’s teachings when he was commenting on verse 10 and said “Just this morning I was reading ‘You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.’” (Psalm 4:3) I sensed vicariously his joy, his understanding, his soul being made happy in the Lord. When you compare these two passages, what do you see?
11. Describe the fruit of her well-watered garden as describes in verses 11-15. Take your time.
Our own Anne found this. I know little about the author, but I feel she has caught the heart of The Song of Songs, and this is well worth meditating on. Watch it and comment. Then you may want to watch it again, stopping to meditate, to write comments, to look at verses. It is so rich.
12. Comment on the above.
13. Have you been able to enjoy the Lord this week? If so, share.
14. What is your take-a-way?