Streams in the Desert (Volume 2-Charles Cowman)


“Ang mga ito’y mga magpapalayok at mga taga-Netaim at Gedera. Doo’y naninirahan sila na kasama ng hari para sa kanyang gawain.” 1 Cronica 4:23 ABB

Maaari tayong manirahan kahit saan “kasama ng hari para sa kanyang gawain.” Maaaring hindi maganda ang lugar na kinaroroonan natin; sa isang malayong probinsya na halos parang walang ginagawa ang Hari sa paligid natin; maaaring sa isang lugar na napapalibutan ng lahat ng uri ng kasukalan at mga hadlang saan man tayo tumingin; at dagdag pa rito, maaaring ito’y sa isang lugar na kung saan ay gumagawa pa tayo ng kung anu-anong paghuhulma sa araw-araw nating pamumuhay.

Hindi na bale! Ang Hari na naglagay sa atin sa lugar na iyon ay dadating at mananahan doon kasama natin; tama lamang para sa atin ang mga kasukalan, o kung hindi man, ay tiyak na agad Niyang aalisin ang mga ito. At hindi naman ibig sabihin na hindi tayo maiingatan ng kasukalang ito; at tungkol naman sa mga araw-araw na mga “paghuhulma” natin, aba, ang mga ito ang tamang-tama lamang na gawaing ibinigay Niya sa atin, at kung gayon, sa kasalukuyan, “Ito ang kanyang gawain.” Frances Ridley Havergal.

“Mahal ko, bumalik ka sa hardin!/ Bumalik ka doon hanggang sa pagkagat ng dilim,/ At talian mo ang mga lirio at pasunurin ang mga baging,/ Hanggang sa ang Guro, ikaw ay tawagin.//

“Pagandahin mo ang hardin hanggang sa iyong makakaya,/ Hinding-hindi ka gumagawang nag-iisa;/ Marahil siya na katabi mo lamang na naglilinang / may ari din ng hardin at siyang magbabantay”//

Ang makukulay na mga paglubog ng araw at ang kalangitan na hitik sa mga bituin, ang magagandang kabundukan at maningning na karagatan, ang mababangong kagubatan at makukulay na bulaklak, ay hindi pa rin kasing-ganda ng isang kaluluwang naglilingkod kay Jesus dahil sa pagmamahal sa Kanya, sa kalagitnaan ng kahirapan at pagdurusa na kalakip ng pangkaraniwang buhay at buhay na hindi maisasa-tula. Faber

Ang mga pinaka-banal na kalooban ay naroroon sa mga hindi man lamang kinilala ang kanilang mga sarili bilang mga manlilikha, o doon sa mga hindi man lang nag-iwan ng monumento ng sarili upang mapag-usapan ng mundo; kundi naroroon sa mga namumuhay tulad ng mga anghel, namumulaklak nang walang nakakakita gaya ng babagong namumukadkad na lirio sa baradong lambak sa pampang ng batisang marumi ang tubig – Kenelm Digby

JCB November 2007

“These were the potters, and those that dwelt among plants and hedges: there they dwelt with the king for his work.” (1 Chron 4:23)

Anywhere and everywhere, we may “dwell with the king for his work.” We may be in a very unlikely and unfavorable place for this; it may be in a literal country life, with little enough to be seen of the “goings” of the King around us; it may be among the hedges of all sorts, hindrances in all directions; it may be furthermore, with our hands full of all manner of pottery for our daily task.

No matter! The King who placed us “there” will come and dwell there with us; the hedges are right, or He would soon do away with them. And it does not follow that what seems to hinder our way may not be for its very protection; and as for the pottery, why, that is just exactly what He has seen fit to put into our hands, and therefore it is, for the present, “his work.” – Frances Ridley Havergal.

“Go back to they garden plot, sweetheart!/ Go back till the evening falls,/ and bind thy lilies and train thy vines,/Till for thee the Master calls.

“Go make they garden fair as thou canst,/Thou workest never alone;/ Perhaps he wholse plot is next to thine/ Will see it and mend his own.”

The colored sunsets and starry heavens, the beautiful mountains and the shining seas, the fragrant woods and painted flowers, are not half so beautiful as a soul that is serving Jesus out of love, in the wear and tear of common, unpoetic life. – Faber

The most saintly spirits are often existing in those who have never distinguished themselves as authors, or left any memorial of themselves to be the theme of the world’s talk; but who have led and interior angelic life, having borne their sweet blossoms unseen like the young lily in a sequestered vale on the bank of a limpid stream – Kenelm Digby.


What is the son of man….


What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor and put everything under his feet.” Hebrews 2:5-8

That Jesus became man by the will of God is something for religious debates. One major religion in the Philippines does not believe that Jesus is God, but that He is only a “sugo” or literally “the one commanded.” Another believe that Jesus is an angel and that the name Jehovah belongs to God but this is not Jesus.The psalmist asks the question rhetorically because only God can answer the question since only God knows the son. What is “man” that you are mindful of him? “The son of man” born of Joseph and Mary, that you care for him? Even the angels testified when Jesus was born “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Christ the Lord. …Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:11,14. On his birth, Jesus was made a little lower than the angels, but after his resurrection, he was crowned with glory and honor. Then God “put everything under his feet.”Why is this truth contested even to this day? Jesus is Lord and the book of Hebrews can only be straightforward about it. “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days, he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe” (Hebrews 1:1-2). That Jesus is the beginning and the end is so obvious in this verse. That he is sustains the world which is also under his feet is even more clear in the following: “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to them. For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my son; today I have become your Father?” (Hebrews 1:3-5)These words were originally written for the Jews who considered angels as superior to Jesus. In our time, there may be other “celestial beings” people consider to be God over their lives and decisions. Sometimes, it’s painful to learn that people will easily believe that their bodies could also be gods, and they work at this, if only to attain that heavenly stature. Christians have a duty to tell about Jesus, that He is God and there is no other.

Foiled Intention

But when they same to Chidon’s threshing place, the oxen stumbled, and Uzzah reached out and took hold of the chest to stop it from falling. The Lord God was very angry at Uzzah for doing this, and he killed Uzzah right there beside the chest. 1 Chronicles 13:1-4, see also 1 Chronicles 15:13

David’s intention was pure – even noble: the tangible symbol of his “faith” must be brought to the center – Jerusalem. Imagine the jubilation, the throng of people singing and dancing as they carried it. Imagine the celebration. Then imagine a violent, even crazy death in the middle of their joyous parade.

Uzzah died, saving the sacred chest from falling. David was shocked and was angry. He instantly blamed God for such a senseless accident. But he did not stop at that. He had a soul searching, asking the question most of us ask in many instances of unexpected turnarounds. “Why Lord?”

“Why Lord? He was only trying to prevent the chest from falling?”

“Why Lord, when we only intend to bring back the sacred chest which had been neglected for so long?”

“Why Lord – and in the midst of Jubilee? You could have waited until we’re done…”

More questions followed, “Should I really be the one to carry the chest back?Was that something I could have chosen not to do? What went wrong?”

Only God’s grace would be able to answer these difficult questions. When Job asked his questions after a series of afflictions, God pointed to him all the marvels of the universe, and concluded, “…Will the faultfinder contend with the Almighty?…Will you condemn me that you may be justified?” (Job Chapter 38 -40)

Looking at the Uzzah’s incident itself, we may conclude based on logic that in the first place, it wasn’t his task to carry the chest – the job had been assigned long ago to the Levites. (1 Chronicles 15:13). The Levites would know how to carry the chest: on poles that rested on their shoulders (1 Chronicles 15:14; 26) and God gave them strength to carry it all the way. David must have thought that Uzzah’s death was unfair, but later he recognized that he and not God was largely to blame. Maybe, God was really angry, not at his intention but at his strategy. God has often told David that He never really lived in temples – God is beyond temples “His throne is above the winged treasures on the lid of the chest” (13:16).

God has full control of the events of our lives. There is a time for every thing for every season under the sun. Often, in our love for control of both time and resources, we take for granted those which have already been provided. Many times, in order for a task to be done quickly, even those who are not called or gifted to do it are forced out of their wits to perform and meet urgent deadlines. Often, the result is disaster, frustration and plenty of finger pointing.

When we are clear about God’s will, still enforcing our own is sheer foolishness, or plain and simple arrogance.

Not the King you Want

Jesus therefore, perceiving that they were intending to come and take Him by force, to make him king, withdrew again to the mountain by himself alone. John 6:15

All the four gospels recorded the feeding of the 5000. Mark, Matthew and John follows this story with a conspicuous detail transition – Jesus going up a mountain to pray.

The people followed Jesus and even were ahead of them on that side of the Lake of Galilee because they are afflicted with certain diseases and they want to get healed. Or else, they were hungry for enlightenment about life questions that only Jesus seem to be able to answer. Here is their hope, their salvation. Would he now replace the Roman King and establish a kingdom like that of David? Would he perhaps want to be King?

As probable as they thought this could be, the people’s clamor isn’t going to have it’s desired answer. John says that Jesus “perceived” the people’s intention. In other parts of the gospels, Jesus has cried out in frustration and deep longing because of the stubbornness of the Jews. ““Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.(Matthew 23:37).

Feeding the multitude is another one of the manifestations of this compassion. “Give them something to eat,” Jesus says even as his disciples say it is impossible to feed five thousand people with only two loaves of bread and two fish. But to Jesus, that need to eat was only too obvious — however, the other need — the need for a Savior, a Messiah has been clouded and needs to be established.

What is in your heart in coming to Jesus? Do you want him to be “King” of your life? Even with impure motives when we come to God, His response will always be a compassionate meeting of our needs and a stubborn persistence at knocking on the hard doors of our hearts. Yet, even as Jesus gives us what we need, He will “withdraw to the mountain and pray.” He isn’t going to be our King as is our worldly grasp of what being “king” connotes. Instead, he wants to be the King of our life, in control of every facet – fully the ruler even beyond what we can fully grasp or imagine. He wants us to genuinely welcome him in our hearts. There is no real salvation apart from this.

pro active faith

John 5:1-9

“Arise, pick up your mat, and walk”

Although we may not be physically handicapped, we are often incapacitated by other disabilities, real or imagined. The lame man in this story has been an invalid for thirty years. Other sick people linger around that pool where he stationed himself, waiting for an angel of God to stir the waters. Everybody around that pool believes that to be inside the pool at the exact time of this stirring will heal them of their various sicknesses. Within the heart of lame man is a will to be healed and not just a dream of walking.

Jesus singles him out and asks, “Do you want to get healed?” A pro-active question indeed if we consider our fast-paced times. Jesus’ question is also a challenge. His healing required an equally pro-active effort from the lame man. “Arise, pick up your mat and walk.”

Faith also requires that our wills cooperate. There are times when mere praying and waiting for the miracle to happen just isn’t it. God in his wisdom also requires that we take action – “Arise, pick up our mats, and walk.”

Often the actions we need to take are specific and directive, but we have to be careful that we take them one step at a time. Jesus pro-active list goes: rise, one step; pick up your mat, second step; and walk, third step. Remember that it has been thirty long years for the lame man. Imagine those joints and muscles finally being stretched. It could be a real effort.

Yet, Jesus’ words also carried with it a sudden strength, a deep and real encouragement for a motivation that has been with the lame man. The lame man did not even know who Jesus is. Maybe he thought this was the angel of God finally come to personally bring him healing since he couldn’t bring himself to the pool. Who knows how this angel has noticed his persistence even as he always fails, and given him a nod of approval? So instead of stirring the waters, this angel was so kind as to just heal him where he is. Of course, later, the man learned that it wasn’t an angel at all, but the Lord Jesus.

Often we look for miracles elsewhere. But Jesus is the only one who can give us what we truly need. If we have the motivation and the dream and the passion, all we need is a powerful push of confidence that can only come from the source of all good gifts.