Saturday, June 19, 2010

Lessons learned from Oliver Cromwell

I am reading again "To honour God", a little book subtitled "The spirituality of Oliver Cromwell", edited and introduced by Michael A.G. Haykin.  If you are interested in reading more about Cromwell, start by doing a search for Cromwell on Michael's blog.

God is Omniscient and Omnipotent; Men are weak and easily confused.  Oliver Cromwell certainly was a controversial figure, but there was a spiritual side to him that can be emulated.  Great men can be guilty of terrible things - just look at David, a man after God's own heart, who committed adultery and murder.  Oliver Cromwell had an overwhelming conviction that God is Sovereign in all human affairs.  He understood, too, that this world is full of pain and sorrow, and that sometimes the way is not clear.  As Christians we sometimes flounder when we are confronted with confusion about what lies ahead.

Yet read what Cromwell wrote about this very thing.  After it was suggested to him that he restore the monarchy and become King Oliver I, he struggled for some time with apparent indecision, because he wasn't sure what God exactly wanted him to do.  He wrote,

"Who can love to walk in the dark?  But Providence doth often so dispose." - p.23

Dr. Haykin comments,

"This statement is a clear assertion of God's sovereign involvement in every event of an individual's life and the history of a people.  But it is also a recognition that those who confess this providential sovereignty are not always able to discern the exact path it is taking." - p.24
God Ordains Trials for our good; He will end the trial when He has accomplished His purposes.  Cromwell understood that sometimes the Lord prolongs our time in the Blackness of a wilderness, yet he trusted that God would bring him to His tabernacle.

"My soul is with the congregation of the firstborn, my body rests in hope, and if here I may honour my God either by doing or by suffering, I shall be most glad.. . He giveth me to see light in his light. . . blessed be his name for shining upon so dark a heart as mine!"- p.47,48
My reading of Jeremiah this morning confirms the truth that God will end the trial in His good time.

 Jeremiah 31:  As I have watched over them to pluck up and break down, to overthrow, destroy, and bring harm, so I will watch over them to build and to plant, declares the Lord.

Love God; Love His People.  After recovering from a dangerous sickness, Cromwell acknowledged his trust in his Heavenly Father who saw fit to raise him up.  He learned anew that it is a blessed thing to die daily, putting no confidence in the flesh.

"I find this only good, to love the Lord and his poor despised people, to do for them, and to be ready to suffer with them: . . . and he that is found worthy of this hath obtained great favour from the Lord. . ." p. 59

These lessons from Oliver Cromwell encourage me.  I have pressing issues in my life that confuse me.  The way is not clear.  The trial seems unending.  Yet I am reminded that even when I am confused, God is not.  He is settled, perfectly sure of the path He has planned for me, and perfectly in control of the timing of the events of my life.  I can trust in His Sovereignty and His Omniscience.  I need only love Him and His poor despised people, to do for them what I can, and to be ready to suffer with them if the Lord so ordains.  He is my God who caused me to know Him - and I have obtained great favour from the Lord.

1 comment:

  1. Must be a good read. You should pass it on. ;)

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