Learning to Trust by J R Miller
All the passages below are taken from J R Miller, “Intimate Letters on Personal Problems.”
It seems to me that what you need is a simpler and more childlike faith. You say that you cannot live up to the things you read in the Bible and in good books. I know of no one who can do so. Heaven always keeps above us. The Bible sets before us very lofty ideals — so lofty that we cannot reach them in a day or a month or in twenty-five years. So long as you may live, and if you spend every year in striving toward the best things — you will still find that you have not fully attained them. Paul was a great deal better Christian than most of us, and he said, when he was quite an old man, that he was not yet perfect — but was still striving after the things which he wished to have. We never measure up to our ideals. We never are so holy any day, as we intend to be in the morning when we set out.
We certainly fall very far below God’s requirements. If we did not, there would be no special need of a Savior. Jesus Christ came into the world to redeem us and save us, because we cannot save ourselves, because we cannot live up to the requirements of his divine law.
Remember this, that all perfection is relative. A piano pupil may get the lesson perfectly the second day after she has begun. That is, she may do the little piece of work her teacher gave her as well as anyone could do it, yet you would not call the child a perfect piano player. She probably has ten years yet before her, of self-discipline and training of the hardest kind before she reaches up to a high enough attainment to be called a good player.
It is so in Christian life. God may approve us the second day of our efforts to follow Christ, and say that we have done beautifully. But we are only beginning, as we have years and years of growth before us. But at any point in all this time we must be judged by the measure of our progress. You find now very much yet to learn, and tell me that you are not able to live up to the things you find in good books. But remember, you have been only following Christ a few years. You must not judge yourself, therefore, too severely. Christ does not. He is very patient with our slow progress. Always do your best every day, and you will do better still tomorrow.
What I want to get you to cultivate, is a quiet trust, the peace of God in your heart, and joy and gladness in all your experiences. You must not fret, you must not look too much inward at your own spiritual condition, or backward at the slow progress you have been making in your spiritual life. Make every day as beautiful as you can — pure and true and holy, with obedience and love. Then next day can be made a little better than this one, and so on through every day, unto the end. You will still find on the last evening of your life, that you have very much to learn, that really you have just begun to be a Christian. I think it was Rubinstein, the great musician, who said at the close of a long life, devoted to intense musical work, “I have just begun to know music.” It is so in Christian life. If you live to be eighty years old, growing every day more and more holy, you can say then no more than that you have begun, just begun, to know Christ and to know how to live a Christian life.
All this world’s life, is just preparation for the larger, fuller, higher life waiting for us in Heaven. Think of this, and while you devote yourself very earnestly to the things which you are called to do, and to the cultivation of your spiritual life, remember that you will never reach your goal, until you leave this poor world and enter upon the perfect life in Heaven.
“Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14