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Lowell Brueckner

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Prayer Answered with Crosses


I wonder what would happen, if someone would come forward in a meeting to give a testimony similar to the one we have posted below, only, of course, using modern terms. The person would get a favorable response at the beginning, making the following statement:  I hoped that in some favored hour at once He’d answer my request, and by His love’s constraining power, subdue my sins and give me rest.”  But I can imagine puzzled looks on faces as the testimony continued, “Instead of this He made me feel the hidden evils of my heart, and let the angry powers of Hell assault my soul in every part. Yea more… With His own hand He seemed intent to aggravate my woe, crossed all the fair designs I schemed, cast out my feelings, laid me low.”  It doesn’t seem too far-fetched to me for a leader to kindly pull this one aside and say, “Please take a seat until you have a more positive testimony to share. Here we preach that God alleviates our afflictions, not that He aggravates them.” I am certain that few… if even one… would be able to comprehend such words.
Please read "We Have an Altar" and
identification with the cross.

I know better than to relate some of my experiences publicly or even in private with the majority of Christians, leaders included. They would probably listen politely, but I think that I would be able to read their thoughts: “What kind of Christianity do we have here? This guy would do well to attend a conference on victorious living, or maybe see a Christian counseling expert with a degree in psychology.”

I have read enough biographies of people used of God, to know the serious difficulties that bombarded their souls.  However, they are not too different from those that David expressed in his Psalms, certainly Job in his book, and Paul, writing of his thorn in the flesh, as well as other trials. It is the price that someone had to pay to be able to write such a hymn as “Amazing Grace”. That’s right, the following poem was another work of John Newton, written at a time of unbelievable difficulty in his life.

Prayer Answered with Crosses
     Written in 1779 by John Newton (1725-1807)

I asked the Lord that I might grow
In faith and love and every grace
Might more of His salvation know
And seek more earnestly His face.
Twas He who taught me thus to pray
And He I trust has answered prayer
But it has been in such a way
As almost drove me to despair.

I hoped that in some favored hour
At once He’d answer my request
And by His love’s constraining power
Subdue my sins and give me rest.

Instead of this He made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart
And let the angry powers of Hell
Assault my soul in every part.

Yea more with His own hand He seemed
Intent to aggravate my woe
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Cast out my feelings, laid me low.

Lord, why is this, I trembling cried
Wilt Thou pursue thy worm to death?
“Tis in this way”, the Lord replied,
“I answer prayer for grace and faith.”

“These inward trials I employ
From self and pride to set thee free
And break thy schemes of earthly joy
That thou mayest seek thy all in Me
That thou mayest seek thy all in me.”


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