HH Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div
“So will not we go back from thee: quicken us, and we will call upon thy name.” Psalm 80:18
To go back from God is to desert Him. It is to turn away the footsteps of our heart from Him. It is to doubt the vision we have had of Him in our more intense and illumined moments.
To determine that whatever comes, we shall not go back from God, is one of the open secrets of the saints. To cling to Him when life is difficult and we are tempted to question if He cares; to believe in Him with a simple childlike faith when clouds and darkness hide His throne–this is one of the triumphs of the spirit which makes the humblest life a thing of victory and brings it to the sunrise at the end.
When Mallory and Irvine were last seen climbing Everest, they were “going strong for the top.” From that top, a thousand feet above them, nothing could turn them back. What a great victory it would be for all of us were we to say, like these heroic climbers, So we shall not go back from Thee.
When Things Eternal Grow Dim
We are tempted sometimes to go back from God by the apparent indifference of heaven. There are seasons of the soul when things unseen are touched with a strange sense of unreality. The lamp that burns upon my study table is as nothing to the radiance of the moon. But then the lamp is near me, and I read by it till I grow oblivious to the moon.
And so there are seasons when the things around us so grip us in their vividness that things eternal tend to grow unreal. At such times we do not renounce God, but we are often tempted to go away from Him. We grow oblivious to His peace and light and there passes a certain deadness over us as the winter, and we forfeit the joy of our salvation. Prayer becomes a chore; the Bible loses its fragrance and its dew. We are in the dark night of the soul and lying under spiritual desertion. But even so (observe the Psalmist’s word) the true heart will cry out of the darkness, “We will not go away from thee.” To cling to God and His great love to us when things grow dim and shadowy and distant, to affirm God to our own souls in the hours when the unseen is as a dream is one of the tasks of all who claim the Name of Christ. “So will not we go away from thee.”
We are also tempted to this retrogression in hours when all the lights are burning low. None is so strong that he does not now and then have fainting spells. We lose heart, and a dull depression seizes on our spirits. We move on the flat margins of despair and are all tempted to go back from God as the disciples were tempted to go away from Christ.
To be perfect as our heavenly Father is a standard that often seems impossible. Is it any use striving to be holy with these insurgent and rebellious hearts? Is not sainthood for rare and elect souls, and beyond the compass of our common clay? So are we tempted to take the lower road, thinking it more on the level of our powers, and we settle down into second best? That is the tragedy of many lives–they have settled down into the second best. They had visions once of the summit of Mount Everest; now they are content to dwell below it. But the real victory of this life of ours is not to gain the summit we have seen; it is to keep on climbing to the end. God’s best in Christ is not for elect souls. It is for everyone who trusts Him. Things that are impossible with man are possible with God, and in spite of all our failures, we shall not go back from Thee.