Gleanings from the Inner Life of Ruth Bryan
January 3rd.—Through the kind providence of God, I am brought safely to the commencement of another year. Numberless temporal mercies have attended me through the past, and I trust also I have been favored with some spiritual refreshments. I desire to raise a fresh "Ebenezer" to the goodness of the Lord, and long for faith to trust in Him more unreservedly. But, alas! how painful is the retrospect of the past year as regards myself, and how much cause have I for deep humiliation and self-abasement. Often have my feet wandered from the right way, and often have I hewed out to myself broken cisterns which could hold no water. But I humbly hope the Lord has not left me entirely to my own ways, and that He will enable me to be more completely devoted during the remainder of my pilgrimage; for, notwithstanding my frequent backslidings and wanderings of heart, it is my chief desire to be His alone.
Be pleased, dear Lord, to grant me during the present year more of Your gracious presence, more tenderness of conscience and fear of offending You; more humility, stronger faith, and more entire devotedness to Your cause. Enable me to leave my temporal concerns entirely with You, to walk by faith, to have my treasure in heaven, and to manifest by my conduct that I am Your disciple. Let me not grow cold or lukewarm—but may "I lay aside every weight and the sin which does so easily beset me, and may I run with patience the race set before me, looking unto Jesus. Amen."
January 30th.—I have today, for the first time, commemorated the dying love of our dear Savior, at His own table. But have not had that comfort and enjoyment of His presence which I hoped for. I am, in consequence, very, very much cast down. I do desire to wait patiently the Lord's time, and trust in His mercy—but I seem, instead of getting nearer to Him, to be further off; it is, indeed, a bitter cup. But, if I could know the Lord had a favor to me, and was leading me by the right way to a city of habitation, I think I could bear it. It is the fear, that for my very great and terrible sins and backslidings, He has cast me off, that makes my burden so heavy. Oh! where shall I go for peace? Jesus alone can be the source of true peace—but I have not faith to behold Him. Precious Savior! look upon my distress, and support me; grant me patience and faith, and in Your own time, oh! do mercifully bring me into the liberty of the Gospel. It is dark night, indeed, and I have neither sun nor stars.
[It is clear, from her soul-pantings, that she knew where she was, as personally struggling with sin and corruption; and what she wanted—namely, a realizing sense of the pardon of sin—of the Lord Christ saying unto her personally, "I am your salvation."]
February 24th, Thursday.—I trust, during part of this week, I have had a little foretaste of that comfort the Lord bestows upon his own people. On Monday evening I suddenly felt a sort of impulse and desire to look to Christ for deliverance from sin; and it was in a way I never experienced before. I was convinced that the impression proceeded from something independent of myself, and therefore hoped, that in following its dictates, I should receive strength to withstand temptation. The result proved it to be so, and I afterwards enjoyed serenity of mind, to which I am usually a stranger. I cannot be sufficiently thankful for this gleam of comfort, and I am inspired with a strong hope, that it is but the pledge of a more full manifestation in the Lord's own time. Yes, I do hope, unworthy and vile as I am, that I shall one day say, with sweet appropriation, "My Beloved is mine, and I am His!" How I long for the glorious period! I expect next Sabbath to approach the table of the Lord; perhaps He will then graciously shine away my fears, and grant me a glimpse of His lovely countenance. Oh, that it might be so! but if not, I hope resignation will be given, and I be kept waiting, longing, and praying. "Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly!" to the rejoicing of my soul.
May 2nd.—I have been much distressed for some days with the fear that I am only a hypocrite in Zion. I seem to make no progress in the Divine life; and, indeed, have much reason to fear that I am only a cumberer of the ground. May the Lord search and try me; and, whatever it may cost, make me alive and lively in His service. I long to be more devoted to Him—but cannot attain to it.
May 9th, Sabbath Evening.—A day of guilt and uneasiness has this been to me. In vain do I attend the ordinances of the Lord's House, and in vain hear the delightful sermons of our valued pastor--if Jesus hides His face, and leaves me to my own heart. Oh! when shall the day dawn and the shadows flee away? When shall I be made fruitful in Zion, and be enabled to live entirely to the glory of the Lord? I long for the joyful period, and have many, many fears that it will never arrive—but that I shall prove a self-deceiver—may the Lord forbid!
May 16th.—After service, I was much surprised by a young person asking me whether I should object to become a Sunday School teacher, as they were much in need of them. Of course I could not decide immediately—but said I would think of it. I have named it to my mother, who will not be an obstacle in the way, if I think it my duty. I have lately thought much of my inactivity in the Lord's vineyard, and wished to be more useful. An opportunity now presents itself, and shall I—can I—refuse? I think not. Perhaps it was the Lord Himself who excited the desire, and who has now shown me how I may, in some little measure, promote the interest of His cause upon earth. If so, may He incline my heart to the work. I wish to be as clay in the hand of the potter. While thinking on the subject, these words occurred with some weight: "Why are you standing here idle all the day?" "Because no man has hired me, Lord." "Go work in my vineyard." May I have direction from above! I feel myself very incompetent and unfit for the engagement—but know that the Lord can make use of the meanest instruments. "Guide me, O great Jehovah!"
June 7th, Sabbath.—I entered last Sabbath on my new engagement of instructing the young, and felt, on entering the school, most distressingly agitated, partly from an overwhelming sense of my unfitness for the work, and partly from the natural timidity of my disposition, most of the teachers being strangers to me. The Lord, however, mercifully supported me; and I think, when more initiated into the rules, I shall feel much pleasure in the work. Oh, that my mind might be enlightened from above, and my humble instrumentalities made use of, to promote the Lord's glory, and the good of His Church!
July 6th.—I have this day attained my 25th year. Through many difficulties and dangers the Lord has brought me. His hand has been ever over me for good, and hitherto by His help I am come. Here, then, I would review the mercies of the past year—erect an "Ebenezer" to His goodness—and, with lively gratitude and increasing faith, gird up my loins and go forward. Since my last birthday I have solemnly given myself to the Lord and to His Church, and also entered upon the responsible duties of Sabbath School teacher. How ought these additional obligations and privileges to weigh upon my mind, increase my seriousness and desire to be wholly the Lord's! But, alas! "backslider is still my name"—still I am prone to slight my best Friend. I would, Lord, leave my body and temporal circumstances in Your hands, nor wish to dictate in the smallest particular. But for soul prosperity, I desire to beg hard for the Holy Spirit to quicken and invigorate. May a spirit of fervent and earnest supplication be poured out upon me, and may I be brought much nearer to the blessed Jesus!
August 27th.—I had this morning a most delightful and refreshing season. My soul was sweetly led out in prayer, and I clearly saw my interest in a precious Jesus. Oh! how precious was He then to my soul, and how amazing did it appear, that one so vile and worthless should be interested in His love—never, I think, did I enjoy so much, and here I would set up an "Ebenezer" for the same. Dear, dear Savior, repeat the visit so divine! This glimpse of Your favour only makes me long for a greater manifestation.
September 5th.—I have this week been favored with a more abundant manifestation of the Lord's love to my soul than I ever before experienced. My heart has been sweetly led out in prayer while sitting plying my needle; and I have had such delightful witnessings of the Spirit, that I could not doubt my interest in a Savior's love. Amazing that such a vile sinner should be a chosen vessel of mercy! I stand astonished, and can hardly believe the delightful fact, and yet I have had such clear intimations, that I dare not dispute it. Oh, how sweet to have a foretaste of the joys above; a smile from Jesus and whisper of His grace! How insignificant then is the world with its pleasures and honors! May it ever appear to me as it has done during some part of the last week. Ten thousand thanks to You, dear Lord, for Your amazing goodness. Oh! may I be watchful and prayerful, and very fearful of grieving Your Holy Spirit; do continue Your favor—what I have tasted makes me long for more; and I hope it is only the pledge of what is in store for me, for I do desire to live near You, and have much of heaven on earth; grant this, dearest Jesus, for Your mercy's sake!—"Ebenezer."
November 21st.—While thinking this afternoon of some friends who have been running eagerly from one place to another after a celebrated, and, I suppose, most interesting preacher; this idea forcibly struck me—why manifest such undue concern after streams, when we have the Fountain always accessible? I can, in my humble cottage, approach the footstool of the Father of mercies, and enjoy the manifestation of His love!
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