You will remember that it was written of old, "The eye is not satisfied with seeing" (Eccl. 1 8); but then the "preacher" was writing only of what is "under the sun." We as disciples of Christ are waiting to see what is above the sun; and when we see Him "as He is" shall we not then be fully satisfied?
And it is well for us to foster within us the growth of these heaven-born longings to be in the presence of the Christ of God. As we concentrate the vision of our souls upon the glorified Man on high, so our aspirations to be with Him where He is will be intensified, and so every lesser aim and object will dwindle into comparative insignificance.
If we probe our hearts we find truly enough that the desire to behold the face of our Beloved Lord is there. But often is not that desire almost buried beneath the mass of our daily engagements and occupations? We deplore this dull condition, for it is a sober fact, warranted by divine revelation, that in a moment of, perhaps, this very hour on which we have entered, that all-glorious sight may be ours. A twinkling of an eye — and we shall be "for ever with the Lord." (1 Cor. 15:52; 1 Thess. 4:16-17.)
Think what an experience it will be, when in a moment, we are taken from the Babel of the crowded street to the hush of His presence, from the pain and the shadow of the sick chamber to the sunlit peace of the Father's house, from the sight of this world's sin and shame to behold Him as He is.
"Oh, bright and blessed hope
When shall it be,
That we His face, long loved,
Revealed shall see.
Oh, when, without a clouds
His features trace,
Whose faithful love so long
We've known in grace;
That love itself enjoy,
Which, ever true,
Did, in our feeble path,
Its work pursue?
O Jesus, not unknown,
Thy love shall fill
The heart in which Thou dwell'st,
And shalt dwell still;
Still, Lord, to see Thy face,
Thy voice to hear,
To know Thy present love
For ever near.
To gaze upon Thyself
(So faithful known,)
Long proved in secret help
With Thee alone."
We can all say that we have known and believed in the love of Christ even here. "'Tis the treasure I've found in His love that has made me a pilgrim below." But what will it be when that love streams upon us there in a flood of heavenly radiance from His own blessed person? And, let us remember, dear friends, that we shall not then be overpowered by the display of that living fulness. For it will be displayed in Jesus — Him in whom we have learned all we know of the Father's love, and who has never yet overwhelmed us by anything He has shown us.
Faith and hope serve us well in the wilderness journey; but the love of the Father is our eternal home. And that love will be known to us then, even as it is known to us now, in Christ. Only then we shall "see Him as He is," — Him whom having not seen we love. Does not the very contemplation of such a prospect set our souls leaping for joy? Can we not sing, "How great our joy to see Thee shine?"
But some of my readers may be inclined to condemn the preceding remarks as extravagant sentiment. Yet I know not why they should do so. We are permitted to read the palpitating desires of the Psalmist: — "As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after Thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God; when shall I come and appear before God?" Ps. 42:1-2.) And Paul was not behindhand in intensity of longing when he wrote of himself as "having a (consuming) desire to depart, and to be with Christ" (Phil. 1:23.) Is it extravagant sentiment to wish to follow them, even as they followed high ideals?
Let us then cultivate spiritual ardour of this sort. Remember that Laodicean assembly which was neither cold nor hot, and fear lest any of us should degenerate into its hateful spirit. Let us rather seek to be able to appropriate to ourselves the sentiments expressed with such beautiful yet forceful simplicity in the following lines:
"The traits of that face, Lord,
Once marred, through Thy grace, Lord,
Our joy'll be to trace — At Thy coming again;
With Thee evermore, Lord,
Our hearts will adore, Lord;
Our sorrow 'll be o'er — At Thy coming again.
But better than all, Lord,
To rise at Thy call, Lord,
Adoring to fall — At Thy coming again;
With Thee, clothed in white, Lord,
To walk in the light, Lord,
Where all will be bright — At Thy coming again.
For ever with Thee, Lord,
And like Thee to be, Lord,
For ever with Thee — At Thy coming again;
I'll live in Thy grace, Lord,
I'll gaze on Thy face, Lord,
When finished my race — At Thy coming again."
* * * *
A well-known writer has remarked that "obedience and dependence are the two living principles of the new man," and we learn from 1 Peter 1:2 that the believer is elected, not only to the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ, but unto the obedience of Jesus Christ. He is our Example, and we know that all things He did were pleasing to the Father. He rendered, may we not reverently say it? the obedience of love, and we may surely regard every legitimate demand made by those set in authority over us as the will of God for us for the moment. The word is ever true that God will make "all things work together for good to them that love Him," so that if a person truly loves the Lord experience will show him in due time that in serving (or obeying) men he is at the same time doing the will of God. May we seek therefore to be found doing the will of God from the heart," so that when our Saviour calls us to the "prepared places" above, He may be able to say to us as to some spoken of long ago, "Well done, good and faithful servant" — good in behaviour and faithful in service. G.H.