Monday Minutes With Pastor Chris McCool (August 31, 2020)

Whenever I look around me lately, I see things that make me fear and worry. The pandemic is still raging, violence and unrest in our country is epidemic, and the hate and vitriol I see spewed out on our social media is unnerving. What is this world coming to? Where in the world can I find peace and relief from all the trouble around me?

Actually, there is NOWHERE in the world where I can find peace! Jesus warned us, “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33). A child of God will find no rest in this sin-cursed world: he will find only troubles and tribulations!

But be of good cheer, Beloved! You are not alone in this feeling of unease in the world. Abraham, the Friend of God, never felt at home here in this world: “By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” Heb. 11:9-10. Soon thereafter, it is said of Abraham and his sons that they “all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” Heb. 11:13.

“Strangers and pilgrims” – that’s interesting terminology, isn’t it? We don’t use those terms too often today; what do they mean? A “stranger” is someone who is away from home, a foreigner. He has a home elsewhere, but he is away from it; and he does not belong in the place where he is sojourning. A “pilgrim” is one who is also someone who is away from his home, but he is on a mission: he is temporarily in a foreign land, but he is ultimately heading home!

Doesn’t that describe us perfectly? Weary Christian, do you feel troubled, alone, outcast, and not at peace? IT’S BECAUSE YOU’RE NOT HOME YET! Home is the place I long to be when I’m feeling unsettled; yet even in my earthly house, I can never gain true peace. But like Abraham, I am not home yet – I’m a stranger and a pilgrim in this world. I don’t fit in because I’m a misfit – but praise His name, I am GOD’S misfit!

I have some more good news for you, my friends: one day, God is coming to get us and take us home to be with Him! Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” John 14:1-3. What a glorious thought! He will NOT leave us here forever: one way or another, whether by death or by His return, we will be with Him one day. I hope that day comes soon!

One of my favorite songs by the Gaither Vocal Band is a song entitled “These Are They”. The song points us to the Resurrection that is coming one day, and there is a line I love in this song: “All the strangers and pilgrims are no longer strangers, all the tired weary wanderers, they will wander no more. The table is spread for the great celebration, and the ‘welcome home’ banner flies over the door!” On Resurrection Day, all the strangers and pilgrims will be home at last, never more to wander! Boy, that sounds good to me!

So what do we do in the meantime? Like me, I’m sure you get discouraged on the journey. In 1989, I went to England to study abroad for five weeks. Although the trip was amazing, I got SO homesick! My mother, who loved me dearly (and still does, I might add!) initiated a “letter-writing campaign” among all our friends and neighbors. I got at least one, and often several, letters from home every day. Every. Single. Day! I was the envy of my friends, who were just as homesick as I was! Those letters encouraged me, and helped me endure as the clock counted down for my arrival back home. I couldn’t wait to get to the mail call each day, knowing I had one more message from home to read!

Even more than those letters that sustained me in England, the letters from God that we know as the Bible will sustain us here in this sin-cursed world. God graciously gave us His word to help us endure, and He gave us His church to keep us focused. The Church is a place where we can find a brief respite from the troubles of life. Child of God, we should take advantage of the rest stop we have, temporary though it may be – church attendance, while important to the church, is even MORE important for you! You will not find the peace and encouragement that you need anywhere else in the world.

And you know all that fear and worry I told you about at the beginning of this post? After thinking on the things of God for a little while, it has all gone away! In the time I have taken to write this blog post, all the while thinking about what we have waiting for us in Heaven, I have forgotten all about COVID, politics, and the troubles around me! I pray it has helped you do the same.

May we take the time daily to focus upon the fact that we are strangers and pilgrims, and that there is a country awaiting us that is our true eternal Home. May the Lord bless you with this knowledge today and every day!

Eld. Chris McCool, Pastor