From “My Utmost for His Highest”:
THIS EXPERIENCE MUST COME
"And he saw him no more." 2 Kings 2:12
"It is not wrong to depend upon Elijah as long as God gives him to you, but remember the time will come when he will have to go; when he stands no more to you as your guide and leader, because God does not intend he should. You say - "I cannot go on without Elijah." God says you must.
Alone at your Jordan. v.14. Jordan is the type of separation where there is no fellowship with anyone else, and where no one can take the responsibility for you. You have to put to the test now what you learned when you were with your Elijah. You have been to Jordan over and over again with Elijah, but now you are up against it alone. It is no use saying you cannot go; this experience has come, and you must go. If you want to know whether God is the God you have faith to believe Him to be, then go through your Jordan alone.
Alone at your Jericho. v.15. Jericho is the place where you have seen your Elijah do great things. When you come to your Jericho you have a strong disinclination to take the initiative and trust in God, you want someone else to take it for you. If you remain true to what you learned with Elijah, you will get the sign that God is with you.
Alone at your Bethel. v.23. At your Bethel you will find yourself at your wits' end and at the beginning of God's wisdom. When you get to your wits' end and feel inclined to succumb to panic, don't; stand true to God and He will bring His truth out in a way that will make your life a sacrament. Put into practice what you learned with your Elijah, use his cloak and pray. Determine to trust in God and do not look for Elijah any more."
What good is repentance? Of what benefit is it to me? Why change my mind and why change who I am?
These are logical questions to ask regarding righteousness. They are the wrong questions.
God commands repentance at salvation. He commands it throughout life. But why? Should I be sorry for being a sinner? At salvation I indeed was a sinner. Utterly depraved. My heart was desperately wicked and deceitful. I could not know it. I could not help my sin nature and could not help but live in sin each day of my life before Jesus. As an unregenerate sinner, I had no idea how wicked I was.
The Jesus saved me and I turned from my wicked ways and God healed me. God’s Holy Spirit filled me for the very first time. I was sealed in His love and salvation forever. Jesus saved me from my sins and delivered me from my sin. Then He commanded me to go and sin no more.
He told me to reckon myself dead indeed unto sin but alive unto God through Jesus. He told me to awake unto righteousness and sin not.
Yet here I am. In sin again. Feeling like the days before salvation. Feeling no better, no different than the sinner I was for eighteen years.
The years between were sometimes blessed with the presence of an Elijah in my life. These were men who led me, taught me, buffered me, listened to me, and most of the time, put up with me. Then they were gone. Each time I reached the banks of the Jordan, they were gone. I had to cross alone. I am disappointed in myself for how many times I have had to cross over, only to be thrown back and try again. Instead of God’s dry path across, the waters rose up and thrust me back upon the bank. Like an Egyptian in the Red Sea pursuing Moses, I was crushed by the furies of the water. Yet I noticed that this water was somehow different.
It was the water of the Word of God. Instead of killing me, it cut me like a sharp, two-edged sword. Instead of drowning me in its filthy mud, it washed me clean by its purity.
I lie on the shore panting, now raging. Beaten. Tired. Wondering. Why do you keep doing this to me God? Why can’t I cross and move on? Why doesn’t Elijah come back and help me?
God’s heavy hand pushes me deeper into the warm sand of the shore. It turns once more into a desert. “Come with Me and learn some more.” Like Paul, I spend a few more years in the desert, learning at the feet of Jesus. Elijah is not there, but Jesus is.
Why should I repent Lord? Why should I change my mind if I won’t get any better? What do I repent of if it will just happen again and again and again?
“You don’t get any better. Repentance is not turning from sin. It is turning from self. It is not a change of mind about sin, to see it as I do. You cannot. Your heart is too wicked, too deceitful, unable to fathom the very depths of sin. I do not want you to be overcome by that.”
Indeed I am not crushed by anything other than my own pride. The root. That is something God can show me and that I can understand.
From “My Utmost for His Highest”:
THE RELINQUISHED LIFE
"I am crucified with Christ." Galatians 2:20
"No one is ever united with Jesus Christ until he is willing to relinquish not sin only, but his whole way of looking at things. To be born from above of the Spirit of God means that we must let go before we lay hold, and in the first stages it is the relinquishing of all pretence. What Our Lord wants us to present to Him is not goodness, nor honesty, nor endeavour, but real solid sin; that is all He can take from us. And what does He give in exchange for our sin? Real solid righteousness. But we must relinquish all pretence of being any thing, all claim of being worthy of God's consideration.
Then the Spirit of God will show us what further there is to relinquish. There will have to be the relinquishing of my claim to my right to myself in every phase. Am I willing to relinquish my hold on all I possess, my hold on my affections, and on everything, and to be identified with the death of Jesus Christ?
There is always a sharp painful disillusionment to go through before we do relinquish. When a man really sees himself as the Lord sees him, it is not the abominable sins of the flesh that shock him, but the awful nature of the pride of his own heart against Jesus Christ. When he sees himself in the light of the Lord, the shame and the horror and the desperate conviction come home.
If you are up against the question of relinquishing, go through the crisis, relinquish all, and God will make you fit for all that He requires of you."
“Your heart, the world, and the wicked one, these will tell you that you will get better. That life with Me makes you progressively more like me and less like yourself. It’s a lie. It’s a masterful deception. Your prideful heart craves it. It is the sin nature which so desperately wants it to be true. As it is, it makes you a god, constantly telling you that you have neither need nor want of Me. This is the thing to repent of. That thing which from the very beginning set mankind against his Creator.”
It’s all really that simple. Everything else will roar in disagreement. Try to do better. Feel bad about your sin. God will forgive you. He’ll make you feel better.
Oh yeah? Them why am I so miserable? God took away my Elijah. He threw me back time after time. He put me in the desert. You call that feeling better? Was Job the righteous about feeling better? Though He slay me, yet will I praise Him. Whether He slay me or I die at my own hand, the Lord is working a good, loving, and at this time, a heavy-handed work. A Father chastises the son whom He loves. It is good for me to be afflicted that I might learn to love and obey you. It is good that God works all things together for my good that I might learn to seek Him with my whole heart. There is no misery when we are One.
I sense that I am near the time when I can go on and not look back for Elijah anymore. He has transferred his cloak to me. He has taught me to pray. He has led me in wisdom. Though my heart may stray again, and surely it will, I will be on the other side of Jordan. Jericho will be in ruins behind me. I will abide in Bethel, the city of God, and dwell there forever. I will behold the beauty of the Lord there and inquire continuously in His temple.