God with His People by J R Miller
All the passages below are taken from J R Miller, “Intimate Letters on Personal Problems.”
First of all I am going to send you a Bible today. Please accept this as a Christmas token. Nothing can be better for the day that means so much to a thoughtful heart, than the Book which tells of the wonderful love of God. I will send you a Bible which has good type and which I think you will like. It is the American Revision, and you will find it quite different in a good many words and expressions from the old King James Version,which I suppose you have used at home all your life. But I like the Revision and use it myself.
If I were to make any request of you regarding the use of this Bible, it would be that you first read over the first four Gospels in the New Testament — Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. I would like you to read them thoughtfully and carefully, with a little prayer each day that God would help you to know Christ better and better, and to receive him into your everyday life. Many people think about Christ as a glorious Being, living far off in the brightness of Heaven. This is true, of course — but it is only part of the truth. You know those lines of Browning’s:
God’s in his Heaven — All’s right with the world. Certainly, God is in his Heaven — but he’s also right on his earth.
The experience you relate illustrates this truth. I feel, just as you do, that the coming of the trained nurse in her carriage right to the lonely spot where your sister was so ill, was not a mere coincidence. I know some people would say that such a feeling as you and I have about the matter is superstitious, or at least they would try to make us believe that it was purely accidental. But I am not disturbed by such opinions as these. More and more do I believe in the immanence of God and his personal interest and activity in the affairs of people ‘s lives. When Jesus said to his disciples, “Surely, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world,” he certainly meant what he said.
We cannot deny the omnipresence of God. There is no spot in the world where he is not. There is a story of an atheist whose little girl attended a Sunday school, and was taught some of the simple elementary truths of the Christian religion. One day her father was writing some words for her, teaching her to spell, and wrote this — “God is nowhere.” He asked the little girl if she could read the words. She spelled them out — “God is now here.” The child’s misreading of the father’s sentence startled him and led to his own conversion. Always we can say, “God is now here.”
The teaching of Christ is that he is with his own followers and friends, in a peculiar manner manifesting himself to them, as he does not manifest himself to the world. Take that saying of the Master — “The very hairs of your head are all numbered.” This does not mean that God actually counts the hairs of our heads. But the expression is meant to teach us that the smallest things in our lives, the smallest incidents, the smallest events, the smallest needs, are taken notice of by our Father — and that nothing, however little it may be, or insignificant, is overlooked or forgotten by him. I need not go further with this defense of the belief which has such a strong place in your heart. The doctrine of the immanence of God, is that he is in this world as truly as the air we breathe.
We are all the time, in the presence of God. In him we live and move and have our being. Then God loves us. We are his children. If the name “Father” applied to God has any meaning at all, it must mean more than the word “father” or “mother” means as applied to our human relationships. Can we say that our heavenly Father is less kind, less thoughtful, less compassionate, less attentive to the needs of his children — than human fathers and mothers are to the needs of their children?
I am sure, therefore, that the incident which you described as occurring last summer, was really an expression of God’s thought and care of you and your sister in your dire need. The Old Testament tells about Hagar and her child — when the child was dying of thirst, and the mother could do nothing but sit by and listen to her child’s cries, an angel came and showed her a spring of water. The teaching of the Bible is not that God is always working miracles for us. He helps us first in natural ways, through our own strength or wit or wisdom or ingenuity, or through the interposition of our friends. But when no human help is available, then God comes himself.