PASSPORT AT THE GATE
"Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."
"Whoever shall do the will of My Father who is in heaven, the same is My brother, and sister, and mother." Matthew 12:50
These seem appropriate opening words, addressed to us by the Great Rest-Giver, on entering the Pilgrim-Stronghold. Mother, sister, brother, are names suggestive of the most hallowed Hospices of earthly affection. Earthly love in its depth and constancy is identified with them. When other trusted friendships fail--when other trusted fellowships, like strong mooring cables, suddenly snap asunder, and we are left drifting aimlessly in unsympathetic isolation--the relationships of home and kindred are rendered more sacred and endearing than ever. The world, at times ungenerous, may do its worst; but nothing can diminish or impair the love of father, mother, sister, brother.
The earthly is a parable of the heavenly. Christ offers a divine homestead to all those that do, or--what is all He asks or expects from imperfect natures--who seek to do the will of His Father in heaven. He offers and promises that in Himself the reality of these varied relationships, individually and combined, shall meet. No, more than all--at times through misconception, at times from sadder causes, son may be estranged from parent, brother from brother, sister from sister. But there is a Friend that sticks closer than a brother, or than any human relative. "Come unto Me!"--He offers a sure and abiding Hospice to the orphaned and fatherless, a stormless haven to the tempest-tossed. There is no contingency in His words--"And you shall find rest unto your souls."
If one of the most comforting themes brought into greater prominence in recent times be the Fatherhood of God, so also is this its counterpart and complement--the Brotherhood of Christ. He is linked in communion with universal humanity--"God, yet my Brother; Brother, yet my God." Wondrous thought! that the ties most endearing on earth, the sanctities of the family and home, have their highest and truest expression in the love of the Brother of brothers, the Friend of friends. He knew, surely, the finer impulses of the soul which these varied earthly relationships suggest, who reserved His last benediction for His beloved human mother, and the brother-heart of His dearest apostle.
I may be enabled to appropriate these privileges and enduring fellowships by striving to fulfill the Savior's one stipulated condition--of having my own way and will coincident with the divine, my nature more and more brought into delighted consecration to the service of Him whom it is alike my duty and honor to obey. If there be a fervent desire to do it, that "will" can be done anywhere--everywhere. "In all places I will come unto you and bless you"--in life's public ways, or in life's sequestered by-paths; in its "loud stunning tide" and noisy crowds, or in its enforced silences; in the fever-heats of mart and exchange, or in quiet retirement of the study, or in seclusion of the sick chamber; in the glare of day, or in the hush of night. Nor does the doing of that Father's will involve or exact great efforts or conspicuous deeds. Little services, little self-denials, the conscientious discharge of little responsibilities are acceptable (shall we say, most acceptable?) in the eye of Him who looks not on the outer appearance, but who looks on the heart.
"They also serve who only stand and wait."
"The deeds that He would have me do
Are wrought by love and prayer;
A world of lowly charities
Awaits His servant's care.
I need not seek some high emprise,
Or lofty work for God,
While crowds of simple duties rise
Like daisies from the sod."
Drudging commonplace work, worthily performed, with the right motive and spirit, is transfigured into divine service. Many a common coin may thus be stamped with the image and superscription of heaven. Many a voice feeble with pain and sorrow, may be made to resound with divine music.
One other thought our verse of today suggests. The purest and closest of human relationships--the affection subsisting between mother, sister, brother, taken here by Christ Himself, in the aggregate, as types of "a greater love"--are in themselves, and at the best, precarious, finite, perishable. Death may have defrauded, or at any moment may defraud, the earthly pictures of their charm, leaving only blank memories behind. But the "doers of God's will"--"pilgrims of the night"--in their impregnable, unassailable Hospice, are authorized to make the challenge, embracing this world and the next--"Who shall separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord?" In Him the earthly and heavenly affections, with their golden links welded together, will be strengthened, perpetuated, intensified in the unblighted Home and Hospice above--the life immortal.
Meanwhile let me live under the sovereignty of the lofty motive power, the purest and grandest of all spiritual forces, to walk and act so as to please God; inspired with the ambition, not of "serving Him much," but of "pleasing Him perfectly;" following the example of One whose motto was--and never more so than when the shadows of a deeper than this world's darkness were gathering around Him--"Not My will, but may Yours be done!"
O Christ! help me to some feeble reflection of this Your divine consecration; that, accepting the accompanying promise You do here make, I may serve myself heir to these peerless relationships. Knowing by increasing experience that Your service is self-rewarding and self-satisfying, may I be able to say, in Your own prophetic word– "I delight to do Your will, O my God--yes, Your law is within my heart."
"This is the resting place, let the weary rest. This is the place of repose." Isaiah 28:12