Memory and Faith

John 10:40-42.---' And went away again beyond Jordan into the place where John at first baptized; and there he abode. And many resorted unto him, and said, John did no miracle: but all things that John spake of this man were true. And many believed on him there.'

Sometimes we come to places in life where we are so hard situated that there is nothing for it but to get back as soon as possible to the scene of our early vows and our morning experience, where once we fought the battle out and obtained the great peace. Back to the spot away beyond Jordan; back to that pure enthusiasm and selfless surrender; back to the memory of our first Communion, or that day when love came into our life, or a new life came into our home; back to a better day which once we knew, that we may reassure and stablish our wavering spirits in the midst of the years. Have we ever touched higher water-mark than that in all our subsequent wanderings? A little wiser perhaps today, rather shrewder and more knowing. Wealthier maybe, more traveled, more famous, more successful as the world imagines. But away over Jordan there is a spot, a little Bethabara, where the really big things were afoot in youth's fresh morning long ago. Has earth been offering us its kingly crowns? has life hurt and disappointed us? Are we not quite so sure of ourselves as we used to be? Let us get back to Bethabara; back to the hallowed spot, as our Lord and Master went.

But not in a moment of passing sentiment. That was a great resolution which arose in the homesick heart making it cry aloud, 'I will arise and go to my father.' Harlots and hogs and husks have made many a prodigal turn a longing eye on a beautiful and gracious and far-away past. And the very memory has been the bitterest portion of a cup of bitterness. On with the story! 'And he arose, and came to his father.' It was not his longing thoughts but his trudging feet that brought him salvation.

And what is true of those impulses which lead to salvation for the sinner is equally true of those imperious summonses which call us back in our subsequent life to the places of dedication and consecration. In that hour when the forces of evil were massing against Him to thwart the pure intention of His soul, our Lord went away back to the spot where once He had seen His life's vision and accepted His life's commission. God had been in that; of that He was quite sure. So was His friend John. There, at any rate, was a fixed point of the soul's compass. There the searching needle could come to rest. There was the pull of the unseen star.

And having found His feet again, having got back to the old camping-ground of high loyalties and steadfast convictions and memories that fortified His soul, see what the sacred writer says. Again words that ring with determination. 'There he abode.' 'He went away again beyond Jordan into the place where John at first baptized; and there he abode.' He has won back to this that life once gave Him, and nothing will move Him from it, until He sees the next step clear again. 'And there he abode,' says the evangelist, letting us see Him digging Himself in.

Sometimes we must just do that in grim desperation. No power in earth or hell shall budge us. if we have to go down fighting we shall make our stand in this little ditch. This, at least, was the biggest and best thing we ever knew. Those who stand by may say it is thunder. Other's, a little nearer the secret, may say it was one of life's angel-haunted hours. The man himself knows it for the voice of God.

'He went away again beyond the Jordan, back to the spot where John had baptized at first.' People will watch where we naturally go in life's dark hours. They will want to know where we shelter, for their own dark hour will be on them before they know where they are. They will look to see if we have a Bethabara beyond Jordan. So did they watch our Lord. They watched Him go. They saw Him settle there. They remembered all that they had ever heard the great Baptist preacher say about this Man. And the sequel is here, and it is very gracious. 'Many resorted unto him, and said, John did no miracle; but all things that John spake of this man were true. And many believed on him there.'

'Many believed on him there.' It had come at last. They refused to believe when He spake as never man spake. They remained hardened even while they saw Him heal the sick and raise the dead. But when they saw Him fighting His own lone fight; when they saw Him repairing to that spot of consecration, where neither the kingly crowns offered by a fickle mob nor the hurting hatred stones flung by His enemies could reach the quiet of His soul, 'many,' we read, 'believed on him there.'

They will. They may have been unimpressed by the words, and unmoved by the acts; but when they see Him fighting out His own fight they come to Him , and, looking on Him once again ' as he walked,' they said, 'Yes, John was right. he didn't put it a whit too strong when he said that this was the Lamb of God.'

It is one of the wonderful and gracious experiences of life that often we seem better able to attract and run to help others in our times of weakness than in our hours of triumph and success. Faith mistrusts the shouts of certainty. John did no miracle. Well, what of it? he knew a good man when he saw one. He could tell when God was walking this earth.

And still many believed in Christ there who cannot take it upon the mere hearsay of a preacher. We may or may not believe what John the Baptist says about this Jesus. We may reserve our own judgment upon the teaching of the Church, as these men long ago seem to have done. And in that hour we shall come to Him too. We shall feel that nothing that has been said about Him is too high to be true when we find Him facing the specters of life as we have to face them, and fighting them with the same kind of weapons which we ourselves must employ. We shall come to feel that this man has mastered life, and that nothing in Nature or life can defeat Him.

Life has a way of driving us all back to our Bethabaras beyond Jordan. And where the son of God sheltered and succored His soul and found strength to go on to face all that lay before Him, we too shall find grace to renew our vows of youth. Among the hallowed memories of the big dreams of long ago we shall dedicate ourselves once again to God.

In Christ, timothy. maranatha