You're here: » Articles Home » J.R. Miller » The Beauty of Every Day » Chapter 5 - Not Counting God

The Beauty of Every Day: Chapter 5 - Not Counting God

By J.R. Miller

      Men do not have the last word in this world's affairs. The human hand is not omnipotent.

      Forty men had bound themselves in a conspiracy to kill Paul and they were sure their plot could not fail. But a boy heard of the conspiracy, and the apostle was rescued. By nine o'clock that night, he was on his way to Caesarea, under strong military protection. The forty men had everything in their favor, but they had not thought about God. If it had not been for God, their plot would have succeeded.

      Not to take account of God in our plans--is folly! A minister tells of a conversation he had with a well-known manufacturer during a journey to Europe. They were talking of missions, and reference was made to India. The businessman said, "Why, it will be ten thousand years before India becomes Christian." "Do you not think you are drawing a hard line on God?" asked the minister. "Oh, I forgot about him," was the reply. "Then," said the minister, "you can make it ten million years--if you leave God out."

      That is what men are doing all the time. They forget about God in making their plans and calculations. These forty men never thought of God's interfering in their conspiracy. They forgot all about him. There are people today who laugh at our belief in God. They tell us that the hopes we cherish never can be realized, that we are only believing dreams. What they say would be true--if there were no God. Human skill, wisdom, or power never could bring these glorious things to pass. If there were no God--not one hope of our Christian faith could find its fulfillment. But there is a God--a God of love, of power--and he is the hearer of prayer.

      In this incident in Paul's life, we see God working silently and invisibly. The night before the plot was made, the Lord appeared to Paul, in his prison, in the darkness, and said to him, "Be of good cheer! For as you have testified for me at Jerusalem, so must you bear witness also at Rome." This was assurance that he could not be killed by the forty men who had conspired to assault him the next day. When Christ has work for a man somewhere next year--no man can kill him this year. "Every man is immortal, until his work is done."

      We do not know how Paul's sister's son, came to be at Jerusalem just at that time. God always finds ways of doing what he wants to have done. His hand is on all events. All things serve him. We say it chanced that the young man was in Jerusalem that day; it chanced that he learned in some way of the plot. We use the word 'chance' because we have no better word to use. It was only 'chance'--so far as men knew--but we know that God was in it all. The young man became God's agent in the matter. When he heard of the plot, he hastened to his uncle and in great alarm told him of it. Paul sent him to the Roman officer. The officer chanced to be a kindly man, and gave the boy courteous attention. At once he set in motion the machinery to get this prisoner away from the city. If it had not been for God--Paul would have been killed. But since there is a God, whose plans go on through all human plots and schemes, he was delivered and set one step farther on his way toward Rome, where he was to witness for his Lord.

      Earlier in the Acts, we have the story of Herod's attempt to destroy the apostles. To begin with, he killed James. He then had Peter also arrested and cast into prison, meaning to have him beheaded after the Passover. The record says, "Peter therefore was kept in the prison: but prayer was made earnestly by the church unto God for him." Everything in Herod's schedule seemed sure. The prison was strong, a double guard watched the prisoner inside the dungeon. Guards also stood before the door. Peter could not possibly escape, Herod supposed; but he had not thought about God.

      Some time during the night an angel came, unheard and unseen, into the prison. Peter was sleeping between his two guards. The angel touched him, awoke him, and bade him arise. As he did so, the chains fell off. "Follow me," said the angel; and as he did so, the doors and gates opened silently--the guards sleeping on--and soon Peter was outside and among his friends. He would have been killed in the morning--had it not been for God. But when God had other plans for his servant--no prison walls, no chains, no double guard of soldiers could keep him, and no tyrant's sword could touch his life!

      We believe these Scripture narratives of deliverance. But somehow we get the impression that the times then were special, somehow different from our times, and that the men who were thus delivered were God's servants in a peculiar sense. We cannot quite realize that it is the same in these times, that God is as active now in human affairs as he was then. But there are just as many miracles of protection and deliverance in your life--as there were in the lives of Christ's friends in those days. You do not know from what dangers you are sheltered every day. You do not know how often you would be harmed in some way--if it were not for God.

      It will do us good to get anew into our hearts--this fact of God in all our life. Some people are always afraid of the dangers around them. They are afraid of sickness, of trouble, of pain, of the darkness, of accidents, of death. But there really never is any reason for fear--if we have God. When evil is plotting against you and the plot is closing, and you are about to be destroyed--God comes in and you are delivered.

      What, then, is the true way of living? It is to go quietly on in obedience, in faithfulness, in trust, asking no questions, having no fears, letting God care for us in his own way. This does not mean that we shall never suffer; that pain, sorrow, or death shall never touch us. Not all believers in the New Testament days were delivered from the plots of enemies. James was killed, while Peter was led by an angel out of the prison, and lived for many years. Stephen was not rescued from martyrdom--but was left to die. Paul himself, saved many times from death, at last was beheaded. While a Christian's work is still unfinished, there is no power that can strike him down. Back of all men's plots and schemes stands God, and no human hatred can beat down any one of his people--until he wills it. Jesus told Pilate that he could have no power to crucify him--unless it were given to him from God.

      When a true Christian is allowed to suffer, it is because God permits it, because it is God's will, and then it is a blessing. When a faithful follower of Christ meets accident, when in some catastrophe he loses his life, or when he is suddenly taken away, nothing has gone wrong with God's plans. God is not surprised or shocked as we are. No break in his plan has occurred. The man's death leaves nothing unfinished that it was meant he should do. Our plans are broken continually by life's changes, accidents, interruptions, and vicissitudes--but God's great plan is never broken.

      Never leave God out--in making your plans. Never be discouraged, when you are faithfully following Christ, though all things seem to be against you. In the darkest hour--be of good cheer. God's plan for your life includes these very things which so discourage you, takes them in as part of his thought, and not one of them can mar the perfectness or the beauty of your life, when it is finished. Let us meet all the hard things--as parts of God's plan. Plots against us--shall fail to harm us. This is our Father's world, and there is no power in it which ever gets out of his hand. Everywhere stands God within the shadow, keeping watch above his own.

      His assassins thought they were absolutely sure of Paul's death the next morning--but they had not thought about God. The business man said that India could not be made Christian in ten thousand years--but he had not thought about God. You are dreading something today--the passing of some dream that is most dear, the losing of some joy that appears to be slipping away from you--but you have not thought about God! You have left him out, forgetting his might, his love, his wisdom, his power. He can protect you from the danger you are dreading. He can keep for you the joy you fear losing--if this is his purpose for you. He can do for you the things you long to have done. In the silence, unseen--stands God.

      You are facing some duty which you feel you ought to do--but when you think of it, it seems so stupendous, so difficult, to require such ability, such wisdom, such self-sacrifice, that you say: "I cannot do it. It is impossible for me! I have not the strength for it. I am not wise enough." You are forgetting about God. With him nothing is impossible.

      You are facing a costly sacrifice. It is a question of loyalty to truth and right. Perhaps it is something which concerns your occupation by which you make a living for your family. If you do right, you will give this up. If it were for yourself alone, you would not hesitate an instant--but the bread for your wife and children also depends on what you do. Yet you need not question. God is with you.

      You are not yet a Christian. You say you never can be a Christian. You hear it said that a Christian is one who loves--loves his fellow-men. You think of what it is to love. "Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged." As you think of the high ideal of Christian life which Christ sets, you grow alarmed. "I never can reach that sort of life!" you say. "I never can love people that way. I never can be forgiving to those who wrong me. There is no use trying--I cannot be a Christian." But you are not thinking of God. You have left him out in trying to solve the problem. Of course you cannot change your own heart, you cannot transform your own life, you cannot make yourself sweet, gentle, patient, beautiful; you cannot make the ugly things in your disposition, in your temper, in your heart, Christlike. Oh, no; but do not forget about God! He can make your character lovely with his own loveliness. Do not leave God out!

      You are standing before some great question, some question which seems to you to involve your heart's happiness for all the future. You are vexing yourself over it. You are torn by conflicting emotions about it. Are you forgetting about God and leaving him out of this problem? He knows what will be best for you. He has a plan for your life, a plan which includes this very matter. Do not try to answer the question yourself. Wait. Nothing is settled right--until it is settled in God's wise and best way.

      How safe we are from all evil, since God has our lives and our interests in his hands, in his wisdom and love! What peace it gives us in sorrow, suffering, and wrong, and in the enduring of injustice--to know that our times are in God's hands! What comfort we have when we realize that God is in all our lives, in all events, in all our circumstances, that daily Providence is simply God working with us and for us, making all things to work together for good to all who love him. We need never leave God out of anything.

      Why can we not make God more real in our lives? We have him in our creeds, in our hymns, in our prayers, in our talk. We say that God is our Father. We say that he will care for us. We say that we trust him. But sometimes in the face of danger, need, loss, or sorrow--we forget that he is with us. We cry out in our distress. We think all is lost.

      Let us train ourselves to make God real in our lives, to practice his presence. He stands unseen, close beside us. Why should we ever be afraid? We get discouraged when we see chaos about us--old beliefs disbelieved, agnosticism lifting up its voice, anarchy prating and making its assaults. Yes--but do not get discouraged. Do not leave God out. He holds the winds in his fists, and the waters in the hollow of his hand. The clamor and turbulence of men--are nothing in his omnipotent hand. We are safe even in the most troublesome times.

      "The lark's on the wing,
      The morning's at seven,
      The hillside's dew-pearled,
      God's in his heaven--
      All's right with the world!"

Back to J.R. Miller index.

See Also:
   Chapter 1 - While We May
   Chapter 2 - The Glory of the Common Life
   Chapter 3 - Seeds of Light
   Chapter 4 - He Calls Us Friends
   Chapter 5 - Not Counting God
   Chapter 6 - Perfection in Loving
   Chapter 7 - Shut Your Door
   Chapter 8 - Things That Hurt Life
   Chapter 9 - Getting Away from Our Past
   Chapter 10 - Thomas' Mistake
   Chapter 11 - Friends and Friendship
   Chapter 12 - The Yoke and the School
   Chapter 13 - The Weak Brother
   Chapter 14 - The Lure of the Ministry
   Chapter 15 - Narrow Lives
   Chapter 16 - The True Enlarging of Life
   Chapter 17 - Through the Year with God
   Chapter 18 - The Remembers
   Chapter 19 - Caring for the Broken Things


Like This Page?

© 1999-2019, All rights reserved.