“He leadeth me beside the waters of quietness. He refresheth my life.”—Psa_23:2-3 (Free translation).
“Thy rod and thy staff (tokens of His presence) they comfort me.”—Psa_23:4.
“Calm in the hour of buoyant health,
Calm in my hour of pain;
Calm in my poverty or wealth,
Calm in my loss or gain.”
Yet . . . there is something more to be said. Sit still, my heart, and let me try to see all there is to be seen.
Let us stir the fire a little, that what blaze there is may flame out. And let us draw our chairs up a little closer, for there is surely some warmth here by this fire, more than we are getting.
He is not here. That is true. Yet he is somewhere. The precious outer casket that his spirit carried about, that is . . . well it is not here. We may not know just where, some of us. But then he is not with it He . . . where is he? the real be that used that precious bit of vitalized clay?
Now let the answer to this come, and linger, until it is seen as big as it really is. He was trusting Christ as His Saviour, was he not? Swift down under all you know ... in his heart this, was his trust, was it not?
And possibly you cannot put your eagerly reaching out, trembling finger, on any particular word or act or even bit in the letters yonder.
Yet one remembers how in the thick of the trenches, and of the awful smoke and fire and din there’s been a most unusual sense of an unseen Presence brooding.
And men’s hearts, once so thoughtless, have been strangely caught and hushed. And your prayers in Jesus’ Name have gone up so many times. And prayer does not fail.
And one remembers that whenever there is the half-turning of an eye upward, homeward, in longing and desire... that’s a little something that our Lord yearns for and reckons with, and quickly sees and eagerly responds to.
Some come in at close of day, as the tired-out child creeps into his mother’s soft lap, wanting only rest, and coming for it to the one place. And we know the mother never fails her child’s acted plea. And would He?
This is the one decisive thing. Our one hope is the blood of our Christ. Precious old family ties, dearly-cherished traditions, personal accomplishments and achievements, treasured possessions all fade away now. And this, this thing that Christ died for us, this is the one thing that stands out.
And if this blessed hope is his, the absent one’s of whom we think this hour, if under all there was a little of the real thing of this, enough for Him, our Lord, to see, whose love makes His eyesight so keen, then, ah! then, there’s another little chapter to add to our story.
This answers our question: Where is he? the real he? We sit very still and let the answer come into our inner spirit-ears, as quiet and clear, as sure and undoubted, as the title-deed to an estate: He is in the presence of our glorified Lord Jesus.
Now as we sit here, as we stir the fire to get more warmth out to help the inner chill, even now he is in that wondrous Presence. He has been blessedly changed. He is in full rhythm of spirit with things up yonder.
He is looking into the face of our Lord Jesus, into those eyes so kindly and gentle; and the Lord is smiling into his eyes. And he answers that wondrous smile with his own smile. The two are in touch of spirit.
Is not this enough, alone, to bring sunshine down through these low-hanging clouds, till it reaches clear in, and warms up where the wintry chill is?
But there’s more to add, much more. He is so happy up there. There’s the music of that upper world. He is listening, caught and held, thrilled and thralled. For it’s a great place of music, of singing, up there.
Was he fond of music? Well, he never heard such soft rich harmonies as reach his ear now. Maybe he didn’t know much about it, though he liked to hear it.
Well, he’s being swept by it now, even as a fragrant breeze from over a field of wild roses in the early summer blows softly into one’s face, at times, and sweeps his spirit away into subtle wordless communion with nature and with God.
And up yonder there is a throne. There is a rainbow of exquisitely soothing quieting green round about the throne. And a wondrous One in a soft blaze of blinding light is sitting on the throne, looking out over all, there and here.
And round about are the hosts of angels with their pure strong faces and winsome presence, coming and going, some hastening up from the old earth to tell of their last errand and get further instructions.
And some are eagerly hastening away down to the old earth with glad faces and outstretched hands, to guard and minister and help down here. And they’re singing, always singing, softly singing praises to the King, as they quickly, eagerly go and come.
And there are the redeemed ones of earth, a wondrous company from all the ages, and all the nations, gathered about the throne, talking, ministering, doing errands, busy with glad tasks, singing, always singing, and with such glad faces.
Over yonder is Enoch still walking with his Friend, and Moses with his face shining more softly than ever, and gentled Elijah, and Isaiah with vision clearer than ever, and Paul down on his face again, but in wonder and worship, all softly singing.
And here are some that he ... our loved one . . . knew. The one he loved so tenderly, and who slipped away that early dawning from your clinging grasp and his . . . they’re together now in gladdest reunion.
And the children are there, hosts and hosts of them, babies of months, and babies of wee years, and growing children each tenderly cared for, and each growing, ever wondrously growing in that wondrous atmosphere, and all singing, always singing, whatever else may be going on.
And he is part of all this. And he is growing too; growing in his mental powers, growing in his understanding of the reason of things, growing in knowledge, and in the fine graces of strength and beauty. And most of all growing in love, which is the perfection of strength and beauty and life.