Not Try, But Trust
John G. Lake
Scripture reading: Numbers 12.
Our Scripture reading begins with the incident of Miriam and Aaron speaking against Moses. A great many people lose the blessing by getting themselves in other people’s affairs. The Lord has been trying from the very beginning to get folks to learn this truth. This is one of the most severe lessons in the Word of God on the disadvantage of sticking your nose into other people’s affairs.
Aaron was the brother and Miriam was the sister of Moses. When Moses was called at the Burning Bush, he began to make excuses because of his slowness of speech, and God gave him his brother Aaron, saying, “He shall be thy spokesman unto the people.” Moses was very meek above all the men that were upon the face of the earth. Vs. 3. No man in all history had so many reasons to get puffed up if he had been puffable. The little fellow puffs up – the big fellow puffs down. No man ever listened to such words as the Lord spoke to Moses. No one was ever dignified by the same commission that God gave to Moses. When God called him and sent him into Egypt, He spoke these most startling words to him, “Thou shalt be as God.” His word became as God and his actions became the actions of God.
As the result of Miriam’s words against Moses, she became a leper. “The cloud departed from off the tabernacle; and behold Miriram became leprous, white as snow: and Aaron looked upon Miriam, and, behold, she was leprous. And Aaron said unto Moses, Alas, my Lord, I beseech thee, lay not the sin upon us, wherein we have done foolishly, and wherein we have sinned. . . .”
And so Moses prayed. His prayer is characteristic of many prayers of the Bible. It is brief. It contains only eight words: “Heal her now, O God I beseech thee.” With Aaron’s whole-hearted confession, the heart of Moses was moved even as was the heart of God.
I want to talk to you a little about this subject of prayer. It seems to me that this prayer of Moses is a wonderful example of that remarkable teaching of Jesus on the subject of faith, in the eleventh chapter of Mark. After cursing the fig tree, Jesus utilized the instance to give voice to the marvelous teaching on faith in God.
He said, “Verily, verily.” When an oriental used these words, he raised his hands and gave it with the solemnity of an oath. Then He said that we are to do something, “When ye pray, BELIEVE THAT YE RECEIVE THEM, and ye shall have them.” Mark 11:23-24. The Revised Version gives greater force to it, “When ye pray, believe that ye have received.” When? Why bless your soul “when you pray.” You have it; that is what it means. We used to have a little Englishman in our evangelistic party who would say to the people when they were praying, “Now let us stop praying, “Now let us stop praying for five minutes and BELIEVE GOD, and see what will happen.” It is perfectly amazing the things that will happen when people will believe God.
There is an attitude of faith, an opening of the soul to God, a Divine laying hold in the Spirit. I can imagine the soul cry of Moses under these circumstances. Miriam, his own sister, was now smitten and leprous, “white as snow.” What were the feelings of his heart? I sometimes have thought that there was no other circumstance in my own life that ever called out so much faith in God and determination of soul to see God’s Will done, as in the healing of a sister. One of my sisters and I had been chums from our childhood. She was a little older than I. The vision of Christ as the Healer had just been opened to my soul.
She was dying of an issue of blood. My mother called me one night and said, “John, if you want to see your sister alive you must come at once.” When I arrived, my mother said, “You are too late, she is gone.” I stepped to her bedside, and laid my hand on her forehead; it was cold and white. I slipped my hand down over her heart, and the heart had ceased to beat. I picked up a small mirror and held it over her mouth, but there was no discoloration. The breath was gone. I stood there stunned. Her husband knelt at the foot of the bed weeping. Her baby was asleep in the crib at the opposite side of the room. My old father and mother knelt sobbing at the side of the bed. They had seen eight of their children die; she was apparently the ninth. My soul was in a storm.
Just a few weeks before, my wife had been healed when almost dead. Prior to that, my brother had been healed, after having been an invalid for twenty-two years. A short time before that, my older sister, with five cancers in the breast, who had been operated on five times and given up to die, was healed. As I looked at this sister I said, “O God, this is not your Will, I cannot accept it! It is the work of the devil and darkness.” It is the devil who has the power of death.”
I discovered this strange fact, that there are times when one’s spirit lays hold on the spirit of another. Somehow I just felt my spirit lays hold of the spirit of that sister. And I prayed, “Dear Lord, she just cannot go.” I walked up and down the room for some time. My spirit was crying out for somebody with faith in God that I could call upon to help me. That was twenty-five years ago when the individual who trusted God for healing was almost an insane man in the eyes of the church and the world. Bless God it is different now. That is the advantage of having people who trust God, and walk out on God’s lines, come together, stay together, and form a nucleus in society which has some force for God. I have no confidence or faith in those little efforts that people run after here and there. Most of them go up in vapor. If you want something doe for god and humanity, put your hearts and hands together and your souls together. Organize your effort.
That baby’s mother (referring to a baby in the audience) would not have been healed, except that a little nucleus determined to pray until the woman was healed, and they stayed in prayer all day Monday. At five o’clock they had the victory. It took them all day. I wish that we had spirituality and faith enough to look through the mists and see what was taking place all day long, until the powers of darkness were dispelled and the healing came.
As I walked up and down my sister’s room, I could think of but one man who had faith on this line. That was John Alexander Dowie, six hundred miles away. I went to the phone, called Western Union and told them I wanted to get a telegram through the Doctor Dowie with an answer back as quickly as possible. I sent this wire:
“My sister has apparently died but my spirit will not let her go. I believe if you will pray, God will heal her.”
I received this answer back:
“Hold on to God. I am praying. She will live.”
I have said a thousand times, what would it have meant if instead of that telegram of faith, I had received one from a weakling preacher who might have said: “I am afraid you are on the wrong track,” or “Brother, you are excited,” or “The days of miracles are past.”
It was the strength of his faith that came over the wire that caused the lightnings of my soul to begin, to flash, and while I stood at the telephone and listened, the very lightning of God began to flash in my spirit. I prayed, “This thing is of hell, it cannot be, it will not be. In the Name of Jesus Christ I abolish this death and sickness, and she shall live.” And as I finished praying, I turned my eyes toward the bed, and I saw her eyelids blink. But I was so wrought up I said, “Maybe I am deceiving myself.” So I stood a little while at the telephone, the lightnings of God still flashing through my soul. Presently I observed her husband get up and tiptoe to her head, and I knew that he had seen it. I said, “What is it Peter?” He replied, “I thought I saw her eyelids move.” And just then they moved again. Five days later she came to father’s home and the Lake family sat down to Christmas dinner, the first time 9in their life when they were all well.
Beloved, it is not our long prayers but our believing God that gets the answer. However, I want to help somebody who finds persistent prayer a necessity, as we all do sometimes. We have not the least idea of the powers of darkness against which we are praying. Paul says:
“We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Ephes. 6:12.
And sometimes you have to lay hold of God, and stay before God and stay through the blackness and through the darkness, and through the night of it, until the faith of God penetrates, and the work is done.
Do you remember the experience of Daniel, one of the finest in the Book? He had to hear from heaven. He fasted and prayed twenty one days. On the twenty first day an angel came to him right out of heaven, and the angel said, “Daniel, a man greatly beloved . . . from the first day . . . thy words were heard,” No the last time you prayed but the very first. The answer was on the way from the day that the prophet began to chasten himself before God. But the Prince of Persia withstood the angel twenty one days. Finally Michael, the Archangel, was sent to assist and the answer came through to Daniel. (Dan. 10:11-14)
Michael is spoken of again and again as the Warrior Angel. He made war against the devil and cast him out of heaven. Get the circumstance. Daniel had prayed and God heard his prayer and answered it by sending an angel messenger. But the angel himself was held up on the way by some power of darkness, until reinforcements, even Michael one of the chief angels, came to his help. I wonder what was necessary to be accomplished in the minds of those interested, before God could answer that prayer?
You are praying for somebody, you are praying for your friend, for your brother, or for your son, or for your daughter who needs your loved and faith. Beloved, have faith in God to stay and pray until the Spirit has a chance to work out the problem. That is the issue. Keep right down to it. Do not let go. It is the Will of God; you have a right to the answer.
There is a ministry of intercession that comes from heaven. It is prayer by the Spirit of God. It is entering into the prayer spirit of the Holy Ghost. He prays. He prays for you. He prays for me, “with groanings that cannot be uttered.” Our spirit in union with His, we enter into the ether of God, into the oneness of faith, the love of His Spirit. A lot of folks stop when they are half through. You hold on to God and pray through.
Here are times like the one when my sister was restored, when the faith and the power of God come like the lightning flash; as to Moses when he prayed, “Heal her now, O God I beseech thee,” and the healing was instant. There are times when it is only our humanity that prays. You know these times yourself when your soul does not enter into your prayer, much less your spirit. There are times when your soul prays. Then there is a prayer of your spirit – that deep quality of your life, deeper than the soul, O bless God, there is still a prayer where the spirit of man and the Spirit of God unite and become one.
Now one can imagine as Moses prayed that day, how his soul must have been stirred. Here is his own sister, that woman who had stood by the river side when he was a babe, had put him in a basket, had hid him in the bulrushes and watched over his welfare. Don’t think she wasn’t interested in him. She had a sisterly and motherly affection for Moses. She wanted to keep him straight. She was afraid that he had made a great mistake in his marriage. Say beloved, are you a father or a mother and have laid such a tight hold on a loved one that you are afraid to leave them in the Hands of God? That is one of the hardest things that folks have to learn, just to take their hands off the other, and let God have them.
Stephen Merritt was a godly undertaker in the city of New York. His dear old wife and he lived godly lives. They raised one son, and if there ever was a boy that strayed away from god it was Charley. Charley would get into some disreputable affair, and the police would come and say, “Charley has done so and so. It will take just so much money to get him out of this difficulty.” The next week another would come along with something else, and so it went on an on. And the two old gray heads were praying and pouring out their tears for that boy’s salvation.
One day as Stephen Merritt was sitting in his office and praying about his son, and the floor was wet with his tears, he heard the Voice of God saying, “How long have you been trying to save Charley?” He replied, “Lord, a long time.” The Lord said, “Now if you are through, I will undertake.” The old man considered, and it worked out in his soul in this way.
The police came and said, “Charley did so and so.” He asked, “Who is Charley?” “Why, he is your son.”
“No, I have no son, Charley.” That day as he had knelt there he said, “Lord, he is not my son any more. I give him over to you until he is saved.” So he told the police, “No, I have no son.” They looked at him and shook their heads. Then they sent another officer. But it was no use to go to him any more. It looked as if the old man had gone crazy.
About nine months passed, and one day an officer came with the report, “Charley has jumped off the Brooklyn bridge and is finished.” He wanted the old man to have the river dragged to obtain the body. But the father said, “I have no son Charley. Drag the river if you want to.” So they dragged the river but the body found was not Charley’s. Three months more passed, and one day one of the clerks said, “there is one of your friends in the office.” And when the old man went in, it was Charley. He was well dressed, clean faced, everything indicating the light of God. The son fell at his fee, kissed them asked for forgiveness. He said in explanation, “Three months ago I was saved in a mission, but I did not want to come and see you until I came as a man.”
Not only is it so in your prayers for others, but in your prayers for yourself; some of you are holding on to your sickness, or difficulty with such a clutch, and are so everlastingly conscious of it, that God cannot get it out of your hands. You are in the very same place spiritually that Stephen Merritt was. He was so determined to save his boy that he was just doing it himself, and God was not getting a chance.
Maybe you are holding on to sin with that same clutch. Maybe you are holding on to disobedience with that same clutch. Maybe it is your sickness. If there is something that is keeping you from getting blessed, let go and let your hands and heart open.
When I was a boy I used to visit the Son locks at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, where my home was.
One day a sailor was up in the masts; he lost his balance and shot over the ship into the water. Another sailor stood on the railing of the ship and watched him. He went down and came up, and went down and came up again, and everything was in foam around him. Still the fellow stood there. Then the chap went down the third time, limp, and just as he was disappearing, the second sailor shot down into the water, and came up with him. A couple of gentlemen standing by remarked, “That fellow has taken men out of the water before.” He just waited until all the kick was taken out of him. Otherwise both might have been drowned.
A lot of us have to thrash and struggle and fight until the kick is all out of us before we are ready to let God take us. As a young fellow I was as proud as Lucifer—every Lake I ever knew was. Robert Burns wrote with his diamond on the window of an highland inn, “There is nothing here but highland pride, highland pride and poverty.” It did not make any difference how poor they were. The hardest thing that I had to do was to make my surrender to God. Never touched whiskey in my life, never used tobacco, but that proud heart of mind had to struggle like a drowning man until I was ready to say, “Lord you save me.” The final consummation came when I knelt behind an old elm tree and poured out my heart to God, and made my surrender to Him. The light of heaven broke into my soul, and I arose from my knees, a son of God and I knew it.
Let God have you. Quit sweating, quit wrestling. About the most difficult class in the world to get healed is the Christian Scientist. Why? Because they work at it so hard. They have been reading so many lessons, and concentrating their minds on healing until almost exhausted. You have to lead them away from it all to that place where, “It is not TRY but TRUST.” That is the secret of Christ’s salvation; that is the secret of Christ’s healing. It is not trying to get healed. It is trusting Him for it, and believing Him when He says He will do it, and the mind relaxes and the souls comes to rest.
Say, dear hearts, let go! Open your clutch! Let God take you. Let God have you, whether it is for your spirit, whether it is for your soul, whether it is for your body. No mater what, just let go. It is not TRY but TRUST. God be praised.