Erasing The Interrogation Marks

   Life is full of mysteries. There are many things we wish we might understand. It would be much easier to go happily upon life's way if we could understand everything that happens to us, and if we could see our way before us.

  We all ask questions. We all wonder why some things occur and what they mean. But some of us are more given to asking questions than others. Some put a question mark after everything. We have pointed out in the previous chapter some of the questions commonly asked. Many people form the habit of being uncertain. They cultivate indecision so it is hard for them to make up their mind. Following this year after year increases the uncertainty of their lives. They are never quite sure about things. There is a lack of that positiveness that gives certainty.

  How shall we overcome that uncertainty ? First, we must set ourselves to the task of breaking ourselves of the habit we have developed. That is not easy, but it is possible. We should form right habits of thinking; we should look upon things from a reasonable standpoint. We should not look upon people and circumstances, and everything about us, as enemies. We should not live in a defensive attitude. We should not believe that everything we attempt to do will turn out bad, nor that everything is against us.

  The majority of things in life are in our favor. God created our environment, speaking in a general way, and he did not make that environment an always hostile environment. It is true that there are many obstacles in life, many unfavorable influences. But the helpful things are more numerous. The influences for good are ore prevalent than are the evil influences. This is true wine' we hold the right attitude ourselves. God wants us to get the interrogation marks out of a great many things.. He wants us to know definitely our relations to himself. He wants us to have an inner consciousness that these relations are acceptable to him. He wants us to hare a religious experience, with such a basis of certainty that it brings to us a constant assurance of rightness.

  We need a consciousness of God's fatherhood. Many know from an intellectual standpoint that God is their father, but they cannot realize it. They hope he is their father. In a way they believe he is their father, but ten it comes to having the inner satisfaction of realizing the relation of sonship to him they know little of hunt To them it is not a practical thing.

  Some imagine God is ready to cut them off from himself for any little trifling deviation from propriety. Their life is influenced more by fear of God than by lore of God. If they have a consciousness that there has been something in their life worthy of reproof they count themselves estranged from God. All their joy is gone. Their attitude toward themselves and toward their relation to God is well illustrated by something woman said to me recently. These are her words, "If had to ask the Lord to forgive me, I would think I would have to get justified and sanctified over again."

  Is God really our Father? Would he so readily break those tender ties between his soul and ours and cast into outer darkness even tho we had been overcome some sudden temptation, if we had in weakness yield to something without intent to offend him? Most of have experienced times when we felt God's disapproval for something. We recognized that we were in fault. As soon as the thing was done or said we immediate l felt a pang of regret. To a certain extent such thin l may make a breach between us and God, but this breach is only partial and may at once be repaired.

  If we take the right course God is ready to forgive I He is ready to repair the breach, to restore the interrupted flow of fellowship. Experiences such as this a not interruptions of the Christian life; they are mere regrettable incidents in it. Those whom God cuts o are those who turn away from him, those who in spirit rebel against him.

  Sin lies in the attitude of the will toward God. Man times things are done that need repentance of a certain sort which because the will has not turned away from God, do not result in one's being cut off from God. Perhaps we have all heard teaching of such a technical nature that it made a person either a Christian of angelic character and deportment or else a sinner rejected of God. Between these two there is a great middle ground. None of us are too angelic, but at the same time we are not servants of the devil. Between these two extremes lies a great range of human experience in which men walk with God, their heavenly Father, guided by his justice, but overshadowed with his mercy.

  Many times in life we think some strange thing has happened to us. We have experiences we cannot understand. Perhaps many of us have not learned God's method of dealing with his sons and daughters sufficient to understand that it is not his displeasure that is being manifested but his hand of discipline. He has loved us with an everlasting love. That is not a love that can be easily broken. God's acts flow out of his love toward us. That everlasting love manifests itself in everlasting kindness. Jer. 31: 3 says, "I have loved thee with an everlasting love; therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee."

  This is God's attitude toward all his children, even those who have faults and shortcomings. God does not expect us to be as wise as he is, nor to exhibit the same power in our life, nor to be always as perfect as he is ID our conduct. He does expect us to do right. He does expect us sincerely to try to please him. But he does not expect us to be free from blunders, mistakes, weaknesses, and those frailties that are commonly found in humanity. We should not excuse ourselves in doing anything improper. If we do so he will not excuse us. But with loving mercy he draws us back to him. As it is written, "As a father pitieth his children so the Lord pitieth them that fear him." That pity manifests itself in his longsuffering, his tender mercy, his ready forgiveness.

  One thing very difficult for many people to learn is that the chastening rod of God is applied in love, not in anger. We are told that God "scourgeth every son whom he receiveth," and that that scourging is the proof of our sonship. So often people are inclined to take it as an evidence that they are no longer sons. They look upon it as a mark of God's disapproval, o' even of his anger. We are told that his chastening is for our profit. He does it not for his own pleasure, but that we may be made better by it. It is a mark of his love. He says, "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten" (Rev. 3 :19). Read Heb. 12: 5-13.

  Note carefully God's attitude in his chastening. We are all ready to admit the truth of the eleventh verse which says, "No chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous." None of us like to be chastened, but yet that is necessary; out of it come the fruits of righteousness. When the Lord chastens us, therefore, let us bear it with meekness. Let us profit by it. Let us not be grieved and discouraged. The Lord says, "Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees" (vs. 12). You can understand what that means. It means—stand up like a man. Do not bow down and tremble for fear. And he adds, "Make straight paths for your feet."

  Gold is purified in the furnace. It is not destroyed; it is made the better by the flames. You and I must pass through the furnace. The purpose of the furnace is that we may be purged from our dross, that we may be refined, that we may be rid of grossness, that we may be made more spiritual. Does the gold ask, "Why hast thou put me in the furnace?" If you and I have to pass through the furnace of affliction or sorrow, of losses or failures, let us submit ourselves to the hand of God Let us not question his mercy or his goodness; neither let us question ourselves. Let us endure as "seeing him who is invisible." Let us trust his hand, and trust his love. Let us not fear that we shall be destroyed.

  We must often endure the chisel of pain as God carves in us his image. We desire to be in his image. We desire to be godlike in character. Remember that God hurts only to heal. Like the surgeon he does not hurt willingly, but only of necessity. We have read of the balm of Gilead, but of what use is that balm until we are hurt? There would be no such balm were there no hurts in life.

  God knows there are things that will hurt us. He knows that sufferings of various sorts are inevitable. He knows that we shall bring upon ourselves by lack of wisdom or carefulness, or by lack of understanding, or in other ways, many things that are hard to endure. But he would not have these things unduly trouble us nor make us feel that he has become our enemy. He would have us ever to recognize that he is our tender, compassionate Father. He would comfort us in our troubles as a mother comforteth her children. In our times of trouble he would not have us run from him nor shrink from his presence. He would have us run into his arms and tell him all our troubles, our questionings, our heartaches. He would have us so to trust him that the interrogation-marks would be removed.

  So many Christians are always on the defensive. They are always facing an enemy either without or within. Their lives are a constant battle with them selves, a struggle to repress something. They are constantly harassed lest they do wrong or feel wrong, lest they be deceived, etc. They are a prey to apprehensions. They are constantly trying to strengthen themselves in an attitude of resistance against something. They hold themselves under a strain. They are constantly troubled over things that God would not have them be troubled over. Instead of living thus God wants us to live positive lives, to be on the offensive, to be victorious. He desires us to be courageous, confident, serene, and without anxiety, conscious of divine help.

  The open-hearted God is a fountain of power. He would have our hearts open to receive his power. He would not have us trust in self but in his sufficiency of grace and power for our every need. He would have us constantly believe that in any situation that may arise there will be no lack of what is necessary to make us overcomers. By believing this, and acting as tho we believe it, we shall be overcomers. We shall rid ourselves of many of life's question-marks. Some of them will remain to eternity, but many of them need trouble us no longer. Those that cannot be removed need not darken our lives. Trusting him we can go onward, singing the glad song that flows from the sense of his Fatherhood and his.