Following the Cloud

25 08 2007

A week from tomorrow my pastoral ministry in Armagh Baptist will come to a close, and Carolyn and I will step into a new chapter in our lives – going to the Irish Baptist college to study for a year and then on to Peru, South America, to serve as missionaries with Baptist Missions. This is a daunting, exciting, and emotional time for us, but we have been blessed by the ways in which the LORD has led us through His Word, and His confirmation of that guidance in our circumstances. A truth and principle which has richly blessed us in the years leading up to our decision has been the Lord’s guidance of His covenant people through the wilderness by the pillar of cloud and fire. We have been assured time and time again that our only concern ought to be to follow His leading and listen to His voice, and that the other details of life will fall into place in turn.

I’m currently reading Andrew Bonar’s ‘Memoir and Remains of Robert Murray M’Cheyne’ and have been blessed this morning by a poem which M’Cheyne wrote just prior to launching into his ministry. It is entitled ‘They Sing the Song of Moses’:

Dark was the night, the wind was high,
The way by mortals never trod;
For God had made the channel dry,
When faithful Moses stretched the rod.

The raging wave on either hand
Stood like a massy tott’ring wall,
And on the heaven-defended band
Refused to let the waters fall.

With anxious footsteps Israel trod
The depths of that mysterious way;
Cheered by the pillar of their God
That shone for them with fav’ring ray.

But when they reached the opposing shore,
As morning streaked the eastern sky,
They saw the billows hurry o’er
The flower of Pharoah’s chivalry.

Then awful gladness filled the mind
Of Israel’s mighty ransomed throng,
And while they gazed on all behind,
Their wonder burst into a song.

Thus, Thy redeemed ones, Lord, on earth,
While passing through this vale of weeping,
Mix holy trembling with their mirth,
And anxious watching with their sleeping.

The night is dark, the storm is loud,
The path no human strength can tread;
Jesus, be Thou the pillar-cloud,
Heaven’s light upon our path to shed.

And oh! when life’s dark journey o’er,
And death enshrouding valley past,
We plant our foot on yonder shore,
And tread yon golden strand at last.

Shall we not see with dread amaze,
How grace hath led us safe along;
And whilst behind – before, we gaze,
Triumphant burst into a song!

And even on earth, though sore bested,
Fightings without, and fears within;
Sprinkled today from slavish dread,
Tomorrow captive led by sin:

Yet I would lift my downcast eyes
On Thee, Thou brilliant tower of fire –
Thou dark cloud to mine enemies –
That hope may all my breast inspire.

And thus the Lord, my strenth, I’ll praise,
Though Satan and his legions rage;
And the sweet song of faith I’ll raise,
To cheer me on my pilgrimage.

Edinburgh – 1835




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