THE AGED CHRISTIAN IN THE HOUSE OF GOD
An eighth letter to an elderly person
The House of God has special charms for the Christian in his old age. There is a calm, quiet, refreshing atmosphere there, which is peculiarly suitable to one who longs for rest. You can leave the noise and turmoil of the world, with all its vanities and sins; and there meet your God, and hold sweet intercourse with Him.
The Lord is everywhere. He is ‘about our path, and about our bed.’ But he is specially with us in His own house. There we feel His nearness, and we are sometime ready to exclaim as Jacob did at Bethel, ‘Surely the Lord is in this place; this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.’
Good old EH loved the Lord’s house. Many a happy and blessed hour he spent in those sacred courts. David too rejoiced to be there:
‘A day in thy courts is better than a thousand (spent elsewhere). I had rather be a door keeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.’ Simeon enjoyed his visits to the temple. There it was that he saw the Saviour, whom he so greatly longed to behold. And this made him quite willing to die: ‘Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word; for mine eyes have seen thy salvation.’ We read also of Anna, who was of a ‘great age’, ‘a widow of about fourscore years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.’ The house of God was her delight. It seemed like a little heaven below. The voice of prayer and praise was music in her ears.
Well, dear friend, I hope you can say of the courts of the Lord, ‘I love to be there. There I have spent my happiest hours. There I have found a peace which the world can never rob me of. There I have often gone with a heavy burden; but I have left it behind me, and come away lightened.’
But it is not every kind of church or chapel-going that does us good. Many a young person, and many an old one too, goes there without getting much profit. Let me offer you then a few friendly directions.
1. Always go to God’s house expecting a blessing. Look out for it, and specially ask for it. Go in devout spirit. Before you leave your home, pause for a moment or two, and beg of the Lord to prepare your heart by His Holy Spirit, and enable you to worship Him as you
2. When there, enter with all your heart into the service. In prayer let your heart join with your fellow-worshippers as well as your minister. It is not enough to sit quietly while your minister sends up His petitions to heaven; but pray the prayers yourself. Yes, pray them with all your heart.
3. When God’s Word is read, listen with your whole attention. It may be you have often heard those chapters before, or read them yourself; but they contain precious truths, which are always new to the hearing ear and the understanding heart.
4. During the sermon, be a humble listener. You should be as a little child, feeling that your knowledge is but small, and that you have much to learn. You should be like a hungry man who comes to be fed, seeking to get your soul nourished by the bread of life. You should be like the thirsty soil, which waits to drink in the falling shower. If we all heard in this way, who can tell what blessings would flow from every service, and how many would come away from this ordinance of God filled and refreshed?
Perhaps you are growing deaf, and can only pick up a part of what is said by the preacher. Perhaps too your memory fails you, when you gather up what you have heard. Still, you can carry away something; and you will be thankful for that something, if you feel that it is a part of God’s own message.
5. Another direction I will give you. When you come home from the house of God, do not forget the service in which you have been engaging. Converse about it, if you have an opportunity. Get out your Bible, and find the text; and then talk over any part of the sermon which you can remember. This is the way to refresh your memory, and to lay up a store of spiritual knowledge.
I have said that David, and Simeon, and Eli, and Anna loved God’s house. But you have reason to love it even more than they did. For they lived only in days when the gospel light was but very dim. But now it shines brightly and clearly upon us. Christ is come;
and He is plainly set before us as ‘the way, the truth, and the life.’
Then love the house of God. Go there as often as you can. And remember your Saviour’s gracious promise: ‘Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.’
May your sabbaths be more and more happy, as you draw nearer to that endless Sabbath which you hope to spend above! May your love for God’s day, for God’s house, for God’s word, and for God’s people ever be increasing, till you are called away to join the ‘one family in heaven,’ and sit down with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of God!
Thine earthly Sabbaths, Lord, I love,
But there’s a nobler rest above.
Oh that I might that rest obtain,
From sin, from sorrow, and from pain.