The Parting Promise
James Smith, 1859
The first-born was about to leave home. The morning fixed upon had arrived. The family one after another had said, "Farewell." The father accompanied his son a short distance, and then with a full heart said, "John, farewell, cleave to Christ, walk with God, adorn the gospel; and while I have a house—you shall never lack a home."
The boy looked on his father through his tears, was unable to speak, and so went on his way. Deeply was he affected by his mother's words, by the kindness of the whole family—but nothing touched him so much, or impressed him so powerfully as his father's last promise, "While I have a house—you shall never lack a home."
Believer, God is your Father, and when going forth into the world or to daily duties, you may hear him give you just the same advice. He says:
"Cleave to Christ." Let nothing divert your attention, or draw away your affections from him. Live in the closest fellowship with Jesus, carry all your cares to him, and draw all your supplies from him. "Walk with God." As a child with a parent, holding earnest, constant, and confidential fellowship with him. Listen to his voice. Watch his hand. Catch his Spirit. Consult his will. Aim in everything to please him.
"Adorn the gospel." By a meek and quiet spirit. By a loving and forgiving temper. By honest and upright conduct. By a wise and intelligible testimony for God, By submission to superiors, by affection to equals, and by humble and courteous conduct toward all who are beneath you in station, or talents, or education. Live as Jesus lived. Imitate God—as his beloved children. Adorn the doctrines of the gospel, by carefully observing its precepts. So shall you make your Father's heart glad. As Solomon said, "My son, if your heart is wise, my heart shall rejoice, even mine."
As our heavenly Father gives us the same advice, so he makes the same promise, "While I have a house—you shall never lack a home." Home is where our father dwells, and where the family resides: and this is the scriptural representation of heaven. Jesus calls it "My Father's house;" and he informed his disciples that he was going to prepare a place for them.
The real Christian can never be homeless—for God will be his refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Yes, as the Psalmist prayed, he will be for him a strong habitation whereunto he may continually resort. And often will he find occasion to exclaim, "How excellent is your loving-kindness, O Lord, therefore the sons of men put their trust under the shadow of your wings." Therefore every believer may say, "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life—and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever!"
No, the Christian shall never lack a home—for it is his Father's good pleasure to give him the kingdom. He shall never lack a home, for Jesus has prayed, "Father, I will that they also whom you have given me—be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory which you have given me: for you loved me before the foundation of the world." To dwell in God's house forever, to be where Jesus is, to inhabit the kingdom—will be to be at home in the highest and best sense of the word.
While our heavenly Father has a house, we shall never lack a home—for he will have all his family around him at length. From all places and all times he will collect them, that they may inherit glory, and share in the honors and happiness of his only begotten Son forever. We must not look for a home on earth; if we have comfortable lodgings—we should be grateful; and if our accommodations are few, and our privations many—it is not worth our while to fret, for we are only like the traveler who has turned aside to tarry for the night. Our journey will soon be ended, and we shall have done with inns and hotels forever! Our goal will soon be reached, and we shall be at home, and at home forever!
Our Father's house is magnificent. Our family gathering will be large and glorious. Our joys will then be perfect, and our happiness perpetual. Not one of all the millions who will be there will drop a tear, or heave a sigh, or utter a groan! Not one will be disfigured by a wrinkle of care, a spot of pollution, or the least stain of sin. Perfection, absolute perfection will be stamped on each; and all will be satisfied, as they appear in the Savior's likeness!
Let us then attend to our heavenly Father's admonition. Let us daily hear him say to us, "John, James, Mary, Sarah—cleave to Christ, walk with God, adorn the gospel, and While I have a house—you shall never lack a home."