I have hanging up in my study a “Good News Calendar,” to which it is my habit to refer the first thing every morning when at home.
This morning, as I removed the text of yesterday, I wondered what I should find today, the more so because it happened to be the forty-fifth anniversary of my conversion to God; and I hoped there might possibly be on this occasion, as I have proved on many another, a special message from that little storehouse of divine and heavenly communications. Nor was I disappointed; indeed, a smile of glad surprise passed over me when I read the text—“Thy Word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart” (Jer. 15:16).
In a moment my thoughts travelled back over all these years, and recalled the quickening action of the Word as it came to me in the power of the Spirit of God. That was, thank God, a happy day! But I must say that the first effect produced by the Word was not one of joy. Far otherwise! There was first a wound, painful and deep—a conviction of guilt, a sense of utter helplessness, the discovery—how necessary to all!—of alienation from and rebellion against God, of a condition describable by no other term than “lost,” and of sins demanding but eternal wrath and judgment. All this came first.
Anxiety, fear, anguish, despair rolled, like a heavy-laden tide, over my soul as I thought of God’s infinite holiness and my own inherent deformity, forcing me on to the ground which is indeed true of us all in the sight of God, viz. that I was but a guilty sinner.
Yet this ground is the stepping-stone to mercy and to salvation. Repentance—the sine qua non of spiritual blessing—blooms on that ground, and to it our Lord Jesus came in grace, in order to seek and save the lost. This valley of Achor is the door of hope, and out of this dread dungeon come all God’s freemen. The experience is fearful, but it is salutary. It was when in this very condition that the passage given me today was made good in my troubled heart.
(1) “Thy Word”—“Him that comes to Me I will in no wise cast out”—words more precious than gold. Sweeter than honey or the honeycomb were these to my sin-sick soul. Christ’s great “I will in no wise cast out” became the sheet-anchor of my faith there and then, and for ever.
(2) “Thy word was unto me”—Yes, “unto me,” for it was supremely personal, so that were I the only sinner on earth, it addressed itself to me. This, too, is necessary. We are not saved as nations, or communities, or families, but just one by one, The Word must come to each of us individually. The gate is narrow, and must be entered one at a time. Hence, Paul said in gladness of soul, “He loved me, and gave Himself for me”—a personal thing.
(3) “Thy Word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of “my heart”—Yes, “my heart” still individual and personal and real; for no one can be happy without knowing it. And this is the very best sign of a truly converted man, that the Word of God becomes to him a spring of delight and comfort and refreshment. It is indeed the joy and rejoicing of his heart. By it a link is formed with God; the mind of God is thereby known; the life is thereby formed in practical godliness. The believer learns by it both what he is and what God, revealed in grace, is. Joy and rejoicing are thus secured to the obedient heart.
How well it is to be thus converted to God in early days, and to prove in long and calm and happy experience the value of His Word—His communications—so that one can truly say, “How precious also are Thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!” (Ps. 139:17).
And so, if the daily text on the calendar is used to draw attention to the Book, and to incline any to study it prayerfully, humbly, patiently, it will not be in vain.