Virginia Brandt Berg (1886-1968) was a well-known American evangelist, and one of the first radio evangelists in America. She authored “The Hem of His Garment” and “Streams That Never Run Dry” and a series of inspirational radio programs titled “Meditation Moments.” (Articles by Virginia Brandt Berg used in Activated are adapted.)
“Have you not known? Have you not heard?” the Bible prophet Isaiah asks in chapter 40 of the book that bears his name. Not known what?—“The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth … gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:28–31). The central promise there is, “He gives power to the weak.”
When an old friend visited me in my home—a man who had been a noted writer, teacher, and radio broadcaster—I was shocked at his physical state. It had been some years since I’d last seen him, and in the meantime he’d had a number of strokes. He walked with much difficulty, and could hardly speak.
In her poem “An Evening Prayer,” C. Maud Battersby captured what should be the prayer of each of us every day.
If I have wounded any soul today,
If I have caused one foot to go astray,
If I have walked in my own willful way,
Good Lord, forgive.
In Psalm 84, King David declared, “Blessed are those whose strength is in God. Who passing through the Valley of Baca, make it a well; the rain also covers it with pools. They go from strength to strength” (verses 5–7, paraphrased).
You won’t find the Valley of Baca on modern maps of the Holy Land, and it isn’t clear whether David was referring to an actual geographical location or using Baca (derived from the Hebrew word bakah, which means “weeping”) figuratively. If figuratively, Baca is a place where all of us have been at some time or other. It’s a place of suffering, a place of sorrow, a place of hardship. It’s a dry, dusty, desert place, this Baca.
I once attended a meeting where a 16-year-old boy sang several gospel songs, and as he sang, his face shone with joy. I learned later that he had grown up in a horrible home environment. From the age of 12, he had been forced to steal to support his family, and within a year, he was also stealing to support his own drug habit, which his life of crime had led to. He had been arrested and spent years in and out of juvenile correctional centers. But one day, some young people met him on the street and led him to receive Jesus, and his life was completely transformed.
According to Dr. James H. Bossard, a former professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, one of the greatest weaknesses in family life is the way parents talk in front of their children. After studying extensive recordings of table talk, he wrote, “I have found that family after family had definite, consistent conversational habits, and that the critical pattern was the most prevalent. These families rarely had a good word to say about anyone. They complained continuously about friends, relatives, neighbors—almost every aspect of their lives, from the lines of people in the supermarket to the stupidity of their bosses.
When I was a little girl, I went to my first circus. There, before my awestruck eyes, were three rings in full action—performing animals in one, and acrobats leaping and flying through the air in another. What interested me most, though, was taking place in the third ring. A girl and a boy were flinging brightly colored missiles, which, after they had crossed the ring, turned and returned to the very hands that had flung them. No matter which direction they were thrown, the things curved and came back swiftly to the young performers, who would catch and fling them again.
I watched in amazement. “They are boomerangs,” someone beside me said. It was the first time I had heard the word, and I tucked it away in my young mind.
As we stand before the New Year, we don’t know what’s in store for us. But there’s one thing we do know, and that is that we can leave the past, with all of its cares, pains, heartaches, and mistakes, behind. We can’t undo one single act or unsay one single word, but if we will give our grief and regrets to God, He can make this New Year a fresh start.
Every day of the past year is beyond our reach, and we should leave it there. God has the past in His keeping, and we should not go back and be tormented with regrets. It’s sad how some people say they’re trusting God, yet they worry about the blots and stains on the pages of their past.
“Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). The Lord once used that Bible verse to drive home a vital lesson, as well as to demonstrate His ability to give specific, immediate guidance as we listen to Him in prayer.
I needed to get in touch with a woman whose address I did not have, and it was an emergency. Every part of my being seemed to throb with anxiety. I felt as though I would fly to pieces if I didn’t get some word to her. As I prayed about what to do next, suddenly a paraphrase of Scripture came to me. Just be still. Get quiet and know that I am God.
The Word of the Almighty God cannot fail; you can depend upon it. When I first learned that, I realized that through the years the Bible had never been a living, vital thing to me, but rather a sort of combination of creeds, doctrines, wise sayings, and printer’s ink. I hadn’t known the power in the Word of God, that it could bring miracles to pass. I don’t know why someone hadn’t told me the truth of these things before, but suddenly a deep conviction dawned on my soul that God could not fail to keep His promises!
I had considered myself a Christian all my life, but I had never really believed God’s Word, nor had I met Christ personally. It was through a little gospel tract that I had that glorious experience. Christ came into my life to fully satisfy. Gone was my unbelief and the accompanying sense of futility and disappointment in life, and there arose in my heart an unfamiliar hunger.