Our gardens are not paradise; our homes are not the Father’s house on high; our comforts are not our heaven; our resting places are not the everlasting rest! We must not rest contented here below.
We have not come to that promised land of which God has spoken to us in his covenant. If we were mindful of the place from which we came out, truly we have had many opportunities to return. But we are not mindful of it — our whole desire lies in the opposite direction.
Our citizenship rights and civic privileges connect us with a city whose jewelled walls and shining streets are waiting for our coming. Our Captain cries to us, ‘Forward!’ Beyond the river our possessions lie. In another land is our everlasting abode.
We are, then, pilgrims, born in another country, passing through this world to an inheritance beyond.
A pilgrim’s main business is to get on and pass through the land as quickly as he can. You will remember how Israel desired to pass through the land of Sihon, king of Heshbon, and Moses offered these terms: ‘Let me pass through your land. I will go along by the highway. I will neither turn unto the right hand nor to the left: only I will pass through on my feet’.
Sihon would not allow them to pass on these conditions — neither will the world grant us a similar privilege. The tribes had to fight their way, and so must we. All we ask is a road. We may also beg the loan of six feet of earth for a sepulchre, but all else we will forego if we may the better proceed towards our inheritance.
Not how to stay here in comfort, but how to pass through the land in holiness is our great question.
Sometimes a homesickness is upon us and then we are weary of this wilderness and pine for the land which flows with milk and honey. We hear the inviting heralds and the songs of those who hold high festival in the palaces above and we groan, being burdened, and long to end the days of this, our banishment…
Let us, therefore, go on with great speed! Let us not think to tarry here, for our best friends and kindred have entered into their rest, and it becomes us to follow after them. And, you know, a man who is a pilgrim reckons that land to be his country in which he expects to remain the longest.
Through the country which he traverses, he makes his way with all speed. But when he gets home he abides at his leisure, for it is the end of his toil and travail. What a little part of life shall we spend on earth!
When you and I have been in heaven 10,000 years, we shall look back upon those 60 years we spent here as nothing at all. We will think of their pain as a pin’s prick, their gain a speck, their duration the twinkling of an eye.
Even if you have to tarry 80 or 90 years in this exile, when you have been in heaven a million years, the longest life will seem no greater than a thought and you will wonder that you said the days were so weary and the nights so dreary, and that the years of sickness drag such a weary length along!
Ah me, eternal bliss, what a drop you make of our sea of sorrow! Heaven covers up this present grief and so much overlaps it that we could fold up myriads of such mourning and still have garments of joy enough to clothe an army of the afflicted. We make too much of this poor life — and this fondness costs us dearly.
Oh for a higher estimate of the home country, with its delights for evermore! Then would the trials of a day exhale like the dew of the morning and scarcely secure an hour of sorrow.