The End Of The Pilgrim Pathway
“…. And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.”
My last lines of this little book are pared specially for two classes — the seasoned saint who is nearing the end of the earthly trail, and now, with most of the road in the rear, is scanning the hilltops for the first glow of the lights of home; and for the young pilgrim who has likewise heard the Shepherd’s call, counted the cost, and is now on the way.
True, it is best to forget most of the things which are behind and to give our full attention to the climb which lies ahead of us. for we are not yet home. It is, however, sometimes good for us to be reminded of “the pit from which we were digged, and of the dangers of the trail from which we have been delivered.” These remembrances will not weaken the steps of the weary sheep as he nears the “better country,” nor will they frighten the lambs who have learned to love the voice of the Good Shepherd who is leading them out and onward.
You, too, my fellow pilgrim, and the beloved friend of our Shepherd true, remember when you first heard the call of His voice to leave all and to follow Him. It seems but as yesterday when in the yester-years you made your noble choice and took that brave step to follow the Master into the unknown.
The steps of those who love His Name
And feed upon His Word,
Who in the stillness learn to wait,
Until His voice is heard;
Who sit and wait at Jesus’ feet,
Their Master’s will to know,
Their every step shall ordered be,
Wheresoever they may go.
They shall not go in haste or flight,
But only as He leads,
Just for today He bids them pray;
Not for tomorrow’s needs.
With food and raiment be content,
The treasures that He bids thee seek
Are of eternal worth.
Who feeds the birds that fly above,
Without a thought or care?
Who gives the beauty to the rose,
And paints the lily fair?
Who but thy Lord, who longs to make
Thy cleansed heart His throne,
Who calls His chosen one apart
To walk with Him alone?
Their steps are ordered by the Lord,
He leads them where He will,
Gethsemane, the judgment hall,
And dark Golgotha’s hill;
For they are crucified with Christ,
No other lord they own,
For Christ in them is magnified,
Their heart His Royal Throne.
— Alfred Easterbrook —
How precious those days, after having farewelled from family and friends, as you, like Abraham, followed your Lord out into the fields of the unseen future. He led you along devious paths out into His green pastures of pleasantness and plenty. You walked with Him by the side of restful waters where you reveled in the delights of His love. Days came and went when it seemed that you were almost as a bird on wing, without a weight and without a care. Upon hearing the older sheep of God speak of trials and triumphs, you were slow to understand. All you knew may have seemed as triumphs without the trials. Perhaps your strongest temptation was to wonder, if, after all, that tested saint really knew His Lord as you knew Him.
Onward our Saviour-Shepherd gently led you, through sweet experiences of His abundant grace, until you, too, could say with the psalmist shepherd, . “He restoreth my soul. ” You sang H’s praise and rejoiced in the pardoning and cleansing power of the “blood of the Lamb.” Wave upon wave of glory and blessing swept over your enraptured soul. You sang, “Tell me not of heavy crosses, nor of burdens hard to bear.” You were born, as it were, upon eagle’s wings. Up and up you soared, above the mountain tops, and bathed your soul in the brightness of heaven’s sunlight. This was no foolish fancy. It was real — unspeakably real. What He made real to you, He wills to make real to every soul who is willing to heed His voice and abandon his life wholly into the Saviour-Shepherd’s care. “He restoreth my soul.” Glory, and Honor, and Praise be unto His Name for ever.
You, my pilgrim friend, will recall that day when your faithful Shepherd seemed to say: “My beloved, we have hitherto walked together in green pastures, and rested by the side of pleasant waters, and you have soared in the heavens, but henceforth we must walk together farther afield. Life is more than heavenly pleasures, and to follow Me means more than entrancing thrills of the highest order. I haven chosen you that you may know Me and that you may serve Me in the hard places of life, and that you may serve your fellow creatures in your day. You and I must go where they are — out upon the rugged ways of life. Joy you shall have always, and My presence shall be with you; but the path in which I shall lead you is not always a pleasant one, and the fields through which we shall walk shall not always be gloriously green. We will climb together the rugged steeps, shall descend together into the deep shades of the valley, and shall be misunderstood and hated together by the citizens of the country through which we travel. You shall be tempted sorely, and shall be made to tremble on the brink of deep and dark waters, and Satan will sift you, but My all-sufficient grace shall ever be yours. I shall ever go before you, and where I have triumphed you can dare to tread. We shall walk together in the sunshine and in the shadows. We shall suffer together, weep together, work together, rejoice together, and the blow which strikes you shall always be Mine. We shall go through the valley together and shall feast together on the other side. I shall not only be your Shepherd-Companion to guide and protect you, but I shall be your Servant, and will provide richly for you in the very presence of your accusing foes. I shall anoint your weary head with the oil of My grace, strengthen your fainting heart with the balm of My love, and your cup shall overflow with the abundant fullness of My Spirit. I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. Thou shalt have no want. My goodness and My mercy shall follow thee all the days of thy life as I lead thee onward, upward, and homeward — into My Father’s House, that where I am you shall forever be. Arise, let us go hence.”
You remember, I say, that day, and you remember other days along the homeward trail. It would take volumes to record the experiences of the road, and some you wish not to remember.
You doubtless recall that stunning blow which struck your soul like a sudden squall on the ocean dropping from the unknown upon the unwary seamen. “Can it be true?” may have been your thoughts aloud. You remember well that the thing you didn’t feel could come had come; and great though it was, it was only the beginning of the mighty tempests of your pilgrim journey with your Shepherd. Since that first big blow you have experienced heart-bleeding blows without number. Temptations have fiercely assailed you, and some of these may have left you with obvious scars. At times you, like Peter, have called upon your Saviour-Shepherd to save you from sinking beneath dark and angry waves. Violent pain and perplexing problems have sometimes been your lot. The tunes of your songs in the night were begotten by the tears of some great grief. Sorrows strange and strong may have cut deep canyons through your bewildered soul. Fiery trials may have tested you to the very limits of your powers of endurance, and your patience has sometimes been tried by every scheme of earth and hell.
Some of your dearest friends have misunderstood your motives, and have even believed the slanderous lies of others who turned against you. You have been spurned by these onetime friends as though you were some evil thing. Raging lions of furious mien have deafened your senses with their thunderous roar. Bears of wildest fear have stealthily sneaked through the shadows of your most dreadful nights, and have blown their blanching breaths upon your fevered face. Along the homeward trail you may have been attacked by every ferocious fiend of the wilds. Little dogs of envy and jealousy may have hounded you at every step — and may yet be hounding you. Grizzly ghosts of the buried past may flaunt their ghastly figures before your face, accusing you of acts long covered by the blood of the Lamb. In the double darkness of natural night and some giant grief you may have been tempted to believe that your Shepherd-Friend has forgotten to stay near. Your fears are unfounded. A mother may forget her child, but our loving Shepherd can never forget you. He is ever near while leading you onward and homeward.
It is a touching story — that of a father and little daughter who were bereft of a companion and mother. The brokenhearted father held the hand of his wondering child and stood by the grave as kind friends tenderly lowered the remains of that precious wife and loving mother into the cold earth. When the last rites were spoken and flowers were laid on the newly-made mound, sorrowing friends came insisting that the heavy-hearted pair go with them rather than return to the darkness of a home void of companion and mother. The sorrowing man declined the kind invitation saying, “Sooner or later we must return, so it is better that we face our grief now.
Upon their arrival at the home the little four-year-old ran through the house looking for mother. Neither the father nor his child cared for food, so both turned to their beds at an early hour. The flaxen-haired darling was carefully tucked in her bed which was near to that of her father. The man was wide awake — stunned by his grief. With a heaving heart and weeping eyes he petitioned His Heavenly Father for the needed grace for this dark hour. Long after his baby should have been asleep the little one said, “Daddy, are you there?” “Yes, darling,” exclaimed the father, “daddy is right here close to you. It is late now, so you must go to sleep.” Sometime later the little voice spoke out again, “Daddy, it is so dark: I never knew it so dark, but you are there, aren’t you daddy?” Upon this saying the fond father lifted his child into his own bed and caressed her to sleep. He then took up his baby’s cry and lifted his voice to God. “Father, it is so dark: I never knew it so dark, but you are near, aren’t you Father?” (Only those who have gone through a similar experience can know the reality of such darkness) . The comforting grace of the Heavenly Shepherd brought strength and courage to his sorrowing soul, until he could say with David, “He giveth his beloved sleep.” The night is never too dark for the Shepherd to be near.
You have traveled far and long over the Shepherd’s trail. Many have been your victories — sometimes at severe costs. You may have had some slips and falls along the path, but I would admonish you to despair not for these regretful failures. It is enough to know that you are now trailing near in the Shepherd’s steps. Perhaps a few more days — or even years — of trials and triumphs, of toil and tears, of sorrow and song, of sunshine and shadow, and then — Home, Heavenly Home. How soul-inspiring is this old and familiar word “home.” Few words in our language are so meaningful as this one. To some of us it seems strangely sad that so many of the languages of earth have no word which expresses the deep sentiments of our English word home. Home is more than a humble cottage, and more than an imposing palace. It is more than a shelter and a place to eat and sleep. It is more than fine furnishings within and spacious courts without. It is a place of love, law, and liberty; the place of consolation and companionship; the abode of fond parents, brothers, and sisters, and all that is dearest to us on earth. What a vacancy in the life of the poor unfortunate soul who has never known the true meaning of the word home.
With many of us the “old homestead,” or the “old home place,” is something of the past, but not forgotten. So long as our material body and immaterial soul are joined together, and our minds even moderately function, we can never forget our old home place of our younger years. Neither the pen of the writer nor the brush of the painter can match the picture which hangs upon the wall of memory. The very thought of those faded years and their relation to the old home is enough to melt the hardest heart and to stain the face which is long unaccustomed to tears. Such sobering thoughts tempt us to say with the poet, “Turn backward, turn backward, O time, in your flight; and make me a child again just for tonight.” But time will not heed our childish cry. It goes onward and we are carried along at its pace. The old home is behind us, the new home is before us. The home temporal is but a shadow (a sweet and memorable shadow), of the Home eternal.
It is true that some of the things known in and about the old home place will be absent in our New Sweet Home. The old house will not be there with its mossy roof and log walls, or of roughly sawed lumber. The old hearth with its light and warmth will be lacking, for there is no cold in our New Home, and the Lamb is the light thereof. The old family doctor with his pill bag will not be there, for disease shall never enter our door. No crepe shall hang without and the dreaded casket shall never enter our room, for there Is no death there. Mother’s old apron shall never again dry our weeping eyes, for God Himself shall wipe away all tears from our eyes. The bed of the invalid and the bed of pain shall not be there, “for the former things are passed away.”
All the best things of earth and all the good things of that New Best Home shall be there. Every father and mother, son and daughter, sister and brother, husband and wife who were lovers of our Lord and followed His leadings shall be there — not one missing. Love, light, life, joy, peace, health, happiness, holiness, wisdom, beauty, companionship, and fellowship shall be present in our New Home. God’s great people and humble people of all ages shall be among our acquaintances and near neighbors, yea, more, our brothers and sisters, of the Heavenly Home. Those who were the nearest and dearest to us while we traveled the earthly trail shall be nearer and dearer still in the New Home. Best of all we shall behold with our eyes the One whom we have sightlessly followed and lovingly served during our earthly pilgrimage. In the light of that one expression, “And they shall see HIS FACE,” we can joyfully serve, suffer, and by faith follow Him through the shadows until the lights of Heaven and Home shine upon our ending trail.
Some years ago a remarkable incident occurred at a wedding in England.
A young man of large wealth and high social position, who had been blinded by an accident when he was ten years old, and who won University honors in spite of his blindness, had won a beautiful bride, though he had never looked upon her face. A little while before his marriage, he submitted to a course of treatment by experts, and the climax came on the day of his wedding.
The bride, Miss Cave, entered the church on the arm of her white-haired father, the admiral, who was all decked out in the blue and lace of the quarter-deck. So moved was she that she could hardly speak. Was her lover at last to see her face that others admired, but which he knew only through his delicate finger tips?
As she neared the altar, while the soft strains of the wedding march floated through the church, her eyes fell on a strange group.
Sir William Hart Dyke stood there with his son. Before the latter was the great oculist in the act of cutting away the last bandage. William Montague Dyke took a step forward, with the spasmodic uncertainty of one who cannot believe that he is awake. A beam of rose-colored light from a pane in the chancel window fell across his face, but he did not seem to see it.
Did he see anything? Yes! Recovering in an instant his steadiness of mien, and with a dignity and joy never before seen in his face, he went forward to meet his bride. They looked into each other’s eyes, and one would have thought that his eyes would never wander from her face.
“At last!” she said. “At last! ” he echoed solemnly, bowing his head. That was a scene of great dramatic power, and no doubt of great joy, and is but a mere suggestion of what will actually take place in heaven when the Christian who has been walking through this world of trial and sorrow, shall see HIM face to face. — Selected.
“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face ….
Fear not, young pilgrims, to follow your Saviour-Shepherd all the way. He promises you not sunshine without shadows, brilliant skies with no gray days, glory with no grief, pleasure with no pain, songs with no sorrows, nor triumphs without trials. He does promise strength for the day, songs in the night, roses with your thorns, victory over every foe, and His presence all the way. Others have won the race and have found an everlasting abode in the house of the Lord. So can you. Forward, forward until you plant your weary feet in your Father’s House at the end of the trail. Did I say the end? I am wrong. Yes, the end of the trail of time, but eternity’s trail will have just begun. With our Shepherd we shall go onward and upward and outward over celestial fields of endless glory. Home at last! for with Him ’tis Home Sweet Home. Eternal HOME.
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