Read His Words Before Ours!
“There’s a land that is fairer than day,
And by faith we can see it afar;
For the Father waits over the way
To prepare us a dwelling place there.
In the sweet by and by,
We shall meet on that beautiful shore;
In the sweet by and by,
We shall meet on that beautiful shore.
We shall sing on that beautiful shore
The melodious songs of the blessed;
And our spirits shall sorrow no more,
Not a sigh for the blessing of rest.
To our bountiful Father above,
We will offer our tribute of praise
For the glorious gift of His love
And the blessings that hallow our days.”
I adore hymns.
They surround my earliest memories of church and worship. The words and melodies introduced a solemnity to the service and carried a sacred whisper when I sang them.
As a child, I didn’t always understand the hymns, but somewhere along the way, a transition happened. The songs I sang by rote for years have now become sources of strength and help, holding me up in various challenging situations. I find myself singing them often, especially now, when face-to-face church fellowship isn’t possible in the way it once was because of Covid-19.
In the Sweet By and By has a special place in my heart because of the longing it creates for heaven. When did you first learn about heaven? I remember hearing about it as a little child. Though I wasn’t able to process the full scope of heaven at a young age, my vivid imagination envisioned it as THE BEST place a child’s mind could create. To be honest, it probably looked more like a gigantic toy store than the Biblical description of heaven. (Revelation 21:9-27) Regardless of age, as we read the Bible, we begin to understand no matter what picture of heaven our earth-bound minds have imagined, it doesn’t compare to the real thing.
“But, as it is written,
‘What no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no human heart has conceived–
God has prepared these things for those who love him.’”
(1 Corinthians 2:9)
What makes heaven so special?
There are an infinite number of reasons for an infinite number of believers, but one of my favorites is God preparing a place in heaven specially for us. (John 14:2-3) God loves us so much He designed and built a place for us beyond comparison! (Hebrews 11:10) Heaven is a city of gold with foundations made from precious jewels. (Revelation 21:18-21) I cannot fathom what such magnificence must look like!
Composer Joseph P. Webster was well-known for his performances and patriotic songs in the antebellum (pre-Civil War) and Civil War period. But by the end of the war, he lost his ability to perform and, instead, turned to compositions, mainly ballads and hymns. It was during this time he met Mr. Sanford Bennett, who wrote the lyrics to what would be Mr. Webster’s most popular and widely known hymn, In the Sweet By and By.
After such a dark period in our nation’s history, I can imagine there was a need for hope, a call to place the longing for home in an enduring location. (Hebrews 13:14) The amount of grief, loss, and separation experienced during that time was unparalleled . . . until now. The news echoes the tragedies faced by millions not just in our nation, but also across the globe because of the rampant coronavirus. The second stanza of this hymn reminds us there is a place where sorrows will be extinct.
Revelation 21:4 gives us this promise:
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes.
Death will be no more;
Grief, crying, and pain will be no more,
Because the previous things have passed away.”
What hope! We won’t even remember our pain. (Isaiah 65:17)
When we get to Heaven, among many other things, there will be the glorious sound of singing. It will be the song of those who know Who their Savior is and how He has redeemed them. (Revelation 5:9-10) The gift of God’s love is the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for our sins so we can return to our heavenly home. (Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 6:23; John 3:16)
This is the sweet by and by.
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!