The Forward Gaze

[Heb. 11:10]---'He looked for a city which hath foundations.'

[Heb. 11:16]---'They desire a better country, that is, an heavenly.'

The life which breath's in these two sentences is glowing with the rapture of the forward gaze. It would be easy to multiply such sentences, for they are characteristic of the mental and spiritual pose of the New Testament, and one finds it everywhere. The Apostles are possessed by a spirit of great expectancy. They are continually making discoveries along the road, and every new discovery sends them forward with richer hope. They 'feel the days before them.' Tomorrow has a wondrous lure. The unknown is the hiding-place of precious deposits, and every stage in the journey feeds their strong warm vigor, for the new stage meets them with a favorable and welcoming face. So that in no way can it be said that these apostolic folk are stepping toward sunsets, toward spent and fading days; rather are they stepping with their faces towards new dawns, toward the ever-unfolding glory of ever-brightening day. This is the forward look, this is the splendid pose of hope.

This does not mean that the disciples of Christ find no inspiration in the past, or that they never retread old roads, or revive the experiences of other days. The Christian has wonderful waters of inspiration in country already crossed, and he loves to visit the springs. There is the day when he met the Lord, when all things became new---that miraculous moment when his guilt fell away like a loathsome robe, and he found himself clothed in a garment of salvation. Then there is the Providence which has accompanied him ever since he stood at those wonderful springs, and which shines like an unbroken light across the years. Who is there who does not like to walk quietly along that shining road, and again and again say to himself, "Here the grace of God met and strengthened me"? Yesterday is full of miracle, and there is inspiration in the remembrance of it. Do ye not remember the miracle of the loaves? Do ye not remember His love in times past? You are on the way to Canaan, the land flowing with milk and honey, but do ye not remember the angel's visit at midnight and the shattering of Egypt's bondage? Such recollection almost repeats the miracle, and it brings fresh oil to the lamp of hope. 'Forget not all his benefits.'

But while all this is true, it is equally true to say that the golden age is not behind. It is before us. All the better and best things are waiting for us higher up the road---new findings in revelation and power, new and deeper secrets in Divine fellowship and union. The 'better' thing is the next thing to be grasped---a better friendship with Christ, a better knowledge of the Word, a better interpretation of the mysteries of His grace. The 'better' is just ahead of us , luring us onward, and the lure moves forward as we make every new possession. On this climbing road there is many a 'Rest-and-be-thankful,' but the rest is only the preparation for further advance. We go forward from glory unto glory.

And this pose of expectancy is one of the secrets of the splendid virility which distinguishes the men and women of apostolic days. There is nothing like hope for keeping the heart young and the feet nimble. When we close the windows of hope the flame of life begins to die down from sheer exhaustion. It is hope which provides the mystic oxygen for our exploit vigor, and without it they begin to fade. If hope changes entirely into memory, and our cheery light is all behind us, the heart soon grows old and cold, and the feet very heavy on the road. It is prospect that inspires. We are trudging along the road, and the city is yonder with its gleaming lofty towers. Forward into the light! That was the hopeful venturing spirit of the early apostles. They had the stamina of athletes. Their hope got into their blood like wine.

And so, in trying to discover their secret, we must relate their labor to their hope. It is their expectancy which accounts for their experience. They are children of light, and therefore their labor is never a condition in which one lacked liberty especially to determine one's course of action or way of life. They are as birds of the morning, and they sing in the light of the dawn. The God of hope fills them with all joy and peace in believing.

In Christ, timothy.


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