THE COST OF FINE NEEDLEWORK.
In the third chapter of Ruth, third verse, there are a few words: "Wash thyself, therefore, and anoint thee, and put thy raiment upon thee, and get thee down to the floor: but make hot thyself known"
You remember in the story of Ruth the consecration she made in the beginning, when she separated herself from her own kindred and her people. It was a consecration of life or death; she left everything behind, and only such a consecration will ever bring the children of God into the place where it brought Ruth. She not only made the consecration but she went into the harvest field and gleaned. She gleaned from the beginning of the harvest to the end; she toiled, she labored, she worked, but now something new comes into her life; now something else comes up. She is seeking the bridegroom.
Go wash thyself. That didn't mean a cleansing from her sins; that didn't mean a separation from the world; she had already made that separation; she had already passed that fountain of cleansing, but now the command is "Wash thyself." There is a cleansing of the Word of God that comes to every life as one presses on into Him, a deeper cleansing, a deeper separation than perhaps most of us have ever known heretofore, a cleansing by the Word of God, our whole being laid open and bare before Him until only from within the inner parts doth truth go forth—truth from the inner parts, that is what He is calling for.
Ruth had to have a cleansing from all her work. She had labored, she had toiled in the harvest field, but there had to be a cleansing from her work. Oh, we have been great soul winners! You have heard it said, "That person is a great soul winner." "It's wonderful how she works for God!" Go wash thyself! There is a cleansing from our works. Have you ever had yourself cleansed from what you have done for God? We need a cleansing from all our ambitions and our desires. Go wash thyself!
The blood cleanses and separates from sin unto God, separates us from the world, but we have to wash ourselves. That is something that we can do. There is no one who needs such a cleansing, no one who is so full of "works" as the Christian worker, as God's ministering servant. We get so filled up with our works, with what we can do and what we are, and what we have done, that we need constantly to go to the fountain to wash ourselves lest we be puffed up.
Then "anoint thee!" Ruth, you who have gleaned from morning until night and have washed yourself, you need the anointing. After such a cleansing, after such an emptying of one's self, comes the anointing. The anointing that comes upon the child of God, the "anointing that abideth" is the anointing that rests upon you in the hard place, in the easy place, in the dark place, in the sunshine, in the cloud—it is the mighty power of the eternal God. It rests upon and continues upon that child who is yielded unto the Lord., upon that one who has had a real dip at the fountain, a real cleansing at. His feet. There is our place down at His feet; never trying to bring ourselves up, never trying to make ourselves somebody. It is low at His feet that we find the real joy, the real blessing, the real peace, and art brought into such a living touch with the King of kings that we have His smile upon us always* and His glory resting over us.
But not only are we to have the "anointing that abideth," but it does something for us. What is it? "And put thy raiment upon thee"—the anointing that abideth puts a raiment upon us. You will find it in the Forty-fifth Psalm, 8th verse: "All thy garments smell of myrrh. . . Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear; forget also thine own people, and thy father's house; so shall the king greatly desire thy beauty"—you didn't know you were beautiful, did you? Ashes make beauty, and the only kind of beauty that the Lord calls beauty is the beauty out of ashes. We like the beauty but we do not want to go through the process that makes the ashes. "For He is thy Lord; and worship thou Him. . . . The king's daughter is all glorious within: her clothing is of wrought gold. She shall be brought unto the king in raiment of needlework," and she will not be brought to the King until she is clothed with this garment. "Her clothing is of wrought gold." That means suffering, doesn't it? It means going through the crucible and having the dross burned out so that nothing is left but the pure gold, and then this pure gold is taken and made into threads and they are worked into your garment in fine needlework. Did you ever have any embroidery put on your garment? any fine needlework? You know who puts it on, don't you? Your brother and your sister. They are the only ones who can bring the finest needlework into your garment. You wouldn't pay any attention to the needlework anybody else would try to put on your garment; no one else could do it so effectively as your brother or sister, the one nearest to you, the one whom you thought a great deal of and looked up to, the one whom you have had as an ideal, and thought was spiritual and knew the Lord. These are the ones who can bring forth the real needlework in you and me, and they are making beautiful stitches in our garments; fancy work. You know every time the needle goes through it pricks. And then some of the threads have to be pulled. I never did any, but I have seen others tie knots and pull threads. If you and I are going to have on the fine needlework, raiment we must hold still while the stitches are being inwrought. In Revelation we read, "the Bride hath made herself ready;" she has something to do. Sometimes we fold our arms and "Lord Jesus, do it all," but there is something you and I must do. We must be a yielded vessels and emptied.
But this beautiful garment has many pieces to it. When a bride is preparing and making ready to be married she doesn't put on all her garments at one time. She is getting them ready every day. Sometimes it takes her a long while to get them ready, especially if she has a good many of them; she has more than just the dress, the outer garment; she is attired in the very finest needlework. This Bride that you and I expect to be a part of will never meet the King until we have been arrayed in raiment of fine-needlework.
"Several years ago I attended a camp meeting in the New England States, I went there for a real touch,
from God, and I didn't seem to be getting it, so I went off in the woods to be alone with God—you get the best when you are alone with Him—and I got down on a big rock and asked the Lord to give me something out of His Word. He led me very definitely to the Scripture, "Many are called but few are choice." (marg.) I said, "Lord, what does that mean?" He brought to my mind two cut glass dishes that I had. They were exactly the same size and the same weight, but there was a great difference in the cutting. One of these dishes had great, large cuts. It wasn't very expensive because the cuts were too large, but the other one was very finely cut. When you put it in the sun how it would sparkle! It was beautiful. When the Lord brought these two dishes before me, He said, "Now, one of these dishes is a 'choice' one. You are very careful of that one; you use the other all the time, but this one you are particular about because it is especially beautiful." "Yes," I said, "that is true. I am afraid it will get broken. I wouldn't care so much about the other." What made the difference in those cut glass dishes? The fine cuts made the one so much more expensive. It had so much more work on it. It was a "choice" one. "Many are called but few are choice." They are not willing to be made choice. It takes a great deal of cutting to make them choice. If you are going to be a choice vessel and expect to be ready to go forth to meet the Bridegroom you will have many cuts in your dish; you will have lots of fine needlework wrought on your garment. I told this "cut glass dish" story one evening, and when I got through some one of whom I thought a great deal and looked up to as a superior character, one who walked with the Lord gave me the deepest cut I ever had in my life. I got down on my face and said, "Lord, how is this?" And He said, "Didn't you lift up your hand and say you wanted to be one of those choice vessels? This is just a cut in your glass dish. Nobody could have cut it like she did." Did you ever have anybody cut your glass dish? Have you ever had your brother embroider the fine needlework on your garment? When the Lord showed me that, I said, "I'd just -as soon she would put in another cut, because I really want my dish to be a choice one."
The natural man doesn't like the cuts, the natural man doesn't like the needlework. It hurts to make the cuts, it hurts to put in the stitches, and we are very sensitive beings. Some people excuse themselves by saying, "I am very sensitive." God will have to take the sensitiveness out of you. When He begins to cut, if you will hold still, it will go. I was very sensitive too, and I had a big death on that line. Now I don't care what people say about me at all. God had to hammer and cut and slash to get it out, because all the time I was saying to Him in the secret closet, "Jesus, I want to be like You. I must be like You." He heard that cry and went to work on me. If that has been the cry of your heart, He is working on you. Everyone who spends time alone with God and comes into real fellowship and living touch with Him will have that cry in his heart. And when you come out of your closet don't be surprised if you get a good "cut" in your dish. Don't be surprised if somebody is trying to embroider a nice big rose on your garment. I think I have had a few stitches since I came to the Convention. If I hadn't, I wouldn't be where God could use me. If you are not getting some needlework done on you every day you are not where God wants you, because we cannot let a day go by without the mighty work of the Holy Spirit on our garments, making us ready for His coming. He will send you to some convention, some mission, some hard field, in order that He can work out this fine needlework on you. You do not understand why you are going through such trials, but He heard your cry over there in that secret closet, "Lord, make me like Thee." "Lord, make me ready for Thy coming." "Lord, prepare me to meet Thee at any cost." "All right," and He begins to work. But you and I fuss and wonder why the Lord ever sent us down there, and why He permitted us to get such a blow. He is answering your prayer uttered in the closet, and He is so good to do it. We grumble at Him, we fuss with Him, we say we can't stand it, but He works on just the same, because He is answering the prayer you prayed back yonder. I keep on praying just the same. Sometimes I say, "Don't pay any attention to me, no matter how much I object I don't want to hinder You. Go on with Your work regardless of my feelings," and He does it even when I don't want Him to. Oh, isn't He a wonderful Saviour! He is preparing us to meet Him; and He will never have a Bride that is not His equal. He suffered. He had enemies. He was called a liar, too; called all kinds of names, and we have to have that same reproach on us. Have you ever been called a liar when you didn't deserve it? Ah, that is the thing that is going to make you like the King of kings! In the beginning of the work in New York City, when the mission was about a year old, I was standing there alone. I had never been in this kind of work before, and it was very hard, but I saw from the very beginning that this life upon which we had entered meant one of two things: crucifixion to the self-life, or backsliding. There is only one of two ways to go when you get the baptism in the Holy Ghost: if you do not go the way of the cross you will backslide. That is all that is open for us. I saw this way of the cross, and as I didn't want to backslide I kept crying to, the Lord to take me through and bring death to this self of mine. At this time I was living with a family to whom I was everything; I was their daughter, and the most wonderful person on earth. They had both been converted through me— "I" had converted them, and you know what kind of a conversion that is. Well, they fairly idolised me, but the day came when the Lord told me to leave that home. "Oh," I said, "how can I ever leave this house?" and I cried mightily to the Lord, but I finally went and took a little flat. Then the fight began. I had been with them five months, and when I left they thought they could turn the people of the mission against me. Not only that, but they went to another meeting every Sunday morning, the Alliance, and there they maligned me, told them what a liar I was, what a thief, and how this speaking in tongues was of the devil; and I died hard. People came to me and I would explain, but I felt something within me all the time saying, "Don't vindicate yourself." Oh, I had to do it, it would not be right for the sake of the Lord's work! Of course, it was "the Lord's work," it wasn't for "myself." I didn't want any reproach to come upon His name—so I argued with myself. One morning there were two Alliance sisters who came to the house, and they said to me, "Now, we want to hear from your own lips about this thing, whether it was so-and-so, etc." While they talked I started to cry. Something within me said, "Don't you vindicate yourself," and it was so strong I
didn't dare, and I just fell on my face and said, "God won't let me say anything." It hurt my flesh not to be able to explain. I had never been a thief, and not to be able to tell them so was taking me through the deepest crucifixion. There were two young women there with me, and they began to reprove these two others for coming, but as I was crying to the Lord, He brought before me a great big soldier, a handsome soldier, all equipped. He had on a breast-plate and a shield, and the fiery darts were coming thick and fast; I could see them sticking in his legs and in his arms, and his head, and I said, "Lord, that is I; that is just what they are doing." The Lord wanted me to get a good picture of myself. Then I saw another picture. Here came another, a tiny soldier, and the shield of faith covered him up; it was the same shield that was on the big soldier. The fiery darts were flying all around him, but they never hit him; he was so small that he got right behind the shield. I saw the lesson. 1 said, "Lord, I am too big. Let the darts come. I want to be that little soldier." Ah, when you get little, the fiery darts won't hurt you! You will be saved from the strife of tongues. The shield of faith will cover you. Whenever you find anything hitting you, just know you are too big. We have to be cut down. Jesus is looking for men and women to-day who will be small enough to hide behind the shield, who will be willing for Him to put on them the raiment of fine needlework. But that is not all. After the raiment is put on, what next? Get thee down! Where? To the floor. That is about as low as you can get. "Get thee down to the floor, and make not thyself known." Don't let anybody know you are down there. You don't have to tell how humble you are; they will know. Ruth was not only to get down to the floor, but she was not to make herself known. This is a day when people want to be known, but we must be hidden away in Him. There is so much advertising of men, to-day, especially if they are gifted or talented. People even in Pentecost get a man or a woman who has a name, just as a drawing card, to draw the crowds and bring the people, but it is not so with this one who had gone down to the floor. Everyone who becomes a part of the Bride or is made an overcomer and will be caught up to meet Him, will never be made known in the sense of popularity, in the sense of a great call or a great preacher. Oh, I'd rather be a member of the Bride clothed with this garment of fine needlework, hidden away and unknown, than to be the greatest preacher in the world. It is not in works, it is not in great parade, not in popularity, but it is the hidden life—"let not thyself be known." If that could be impressed on the heart of everyone that has been called by Him into this life, separated and set apart for the Master, there would be a power that would go forth from such a life and from a company of people that were so unknown, that would shake the world; not in themselves but through Him. I am sure that as we go down to the floor, with our faces to the ground we can be emptied of every desire, every ambition to make ourselves known. How many unknown people to-day, unknown to the great masses and to the world will have the greatest reward in heaven. I think sometimes of the little woman, washing at the tub, and as she rubs and washes to make the garments clean, the spirit of prayer comes upon her, and she touches heaven—nobody knows anything about her, no one ever hears of her, but there is a great reward awaiting her. She is unknown on earth, but known in heaven. There is the one hidden away in the prayer closet, she doesn't let it be known that she is a great intercessor, because she has gone down to the floor, and as she prays for those in this and other lands, someone here is lifted up and wonders who prayed for him; someone over yonder has been healed and touched by the power of God; a revival has broken forth, and the minister through this one unknown in the closet sends forth the Word in power that will bring a reward up yonder where she is known. Oh, to be known by Him! I'd rather be known in heaven than to be known here. I'd rather have the reward that comes to the little, insignificant woman in the closet than to be known all over the world as a great preacher, or a talented evangelist, because when men and women become known here, and their names are in the papers, and they are sought for everywhere, in some way the self-life begins to crop out, and you find them getting up from the floor; their faces are not in the dust as they were when they were unknown. That beautiful life that was so hidden and so in touch with Him has lost its sweetness. Now they think they are something wonderful and they begin to take the glory, and the honor, and the praise that belongs only to the Lord. Then you find the vessel leaking out and being emptied of its power. For a time it will go on and on because of the name, but it will not last; it cannot last in Pentecost. To-day God will be honored; God will get glory to His name, and when we get too exalted, or, in other words, too well known, there will be a puncture somewhere to let us down, that we may know the dust, that we may know the floor. Oh, it is down and then "unknown" that counts with Him. Let us as God's children and co-workers with Him not have an ambition to be known; let us not have an ambition to be great. How much it creeps into the very humblest men and women! You can understand how this temptation would come to talented men and women, but this subtle snare of Satan entraps everyone that can be trapped. The desire to be great saps out the sweetness in the life that is unknown.
I remember hearing a story of a city which had no water, but away up the side of a hill a man found a spring, and he conceived the idea of piping that water down to the city. He dug under the ground and put in the pipes, and supplied water for that whole city, but you never saw the channel through which it came. The channel never got the glory for supplying that city with water, but the spring on the hill whence it came. So, if our lives can be unknown; if we can get into that place of death and stay there, our. Spring, the King of kings, can be glorified. And when He is glorified the power of the Spirit will rest upon the people. He says, "I will not give My glory to another," and that is why when the channel becomes known it loses its power. In a meeting the other day as we were kneeling and waiting before the Lord, I heard a brother say to a sister, "Did you hear me crying?" She said, "No, I didn't." "Why," he said, "I was having intercessory prayer. I thought everybody knew it." That channel wanted to be, known, therefore there wasn't much power in his intercession. He wanted the people round him to know that the prayer of intercession was on him, and he took the glory. I never took much stock in that kind of intercession, or the kind of weeping that likes to be noticed. The real water from the Spring doesn't flow through a channel which is anxious to be known. It may be that the living stream flowed through it for a time, but
when we take the glory and the praise to ourselves, then the channel gets clogged, and I am sure no living water can flow freely from a clogged-up channel. Self is one of the biggest clogs in my channel. Oh, how I find the old self-life clogging up the channel! The only place I find deliverance is down on the floor, in the dust before Him. Oh, for that garment of humility to cover us! Not the put-on kind, but the real humility which comes from a broken spirit, an emptied channel.
She made not herself known. I love to dwell on this, because I feel here is where so many of us have failed God. The Lord is longing to have us ready for His coming. I think sometimes as I wait before Him of what His heart desires for His bride, for this company of overcomers, that we should be made like Himself. Oh, how far short we come, all because we are not willing to get down and be unknown! When that life of "death" has been wrought in us, you will find a character that is full of the sweetness and the love of Jesus.
The Lord is working on us. We have washed our garments, and He is daily working on the bridal robe; the fine needlework, the embroidery is being inwrought. You will find later on in this story of Ruth, she went to the floor, she bowed herself down, and while she was down there, humbled and broken, the Master came and spoke to her and said, "Who is this?" And she said, "This is Ruth, Thine handmaiden,"—not the great worker; not the great soul winner; not the great preacher; just the handmaiden; just the errand-boy down in the dust; "cover me with Thy skirt, for Thou art mine own kinsman," meaning Thou art my Redeemer. He was going to redeem her. When you and I fall at the Master's feet and humble ourselves, we will always find Him there to speak a word of comfort. And when you lie at His feet He will come and clothe you with the garment of His own righteousness. Think of His covering us! Think of the skirt of the Almighty One protecting us! Let us wash ourselves and have Him anoint us; put on us the raiment of fine needlework, and teach us how to get down to the floor, and when He finds us there in humility He will cover us with His skirt.
The Evangel Publishing House.