Note: Stuart Hamblen was a well-known country-western singer and Hollywood actor in the 1930′s and 40′s. His popular radio program on the west coast of the United States made him radio’s first singing cowboy. He also played characters in ten western movies. At one point, he even ran for president of the United States–and did quite well on the west coast!
Hamblen was the son of a Methodist preacher, but seemed to turn his back on the values he’d been taught. He became known as a liar and a cheat, and his days were filled with drunken carousing. But then, during Billy Graham’s evangelistic meetings in Los Angeles, in 1949, Stuart Hamblen gave his heart to Christ. From then on, his life took a radical new direction.
Mr. Hamblen gave up his acting career and began an itinerant ministry for the Lord, bearing an effective testimony to the saving grace of God. He used his musical talent in a significant way in the Lord’s service, writing quite a number of gospel songs. It Is No Secret is the best known of these
About the prospect of his death, Stuart Hamblen said, “When you see me fall asleep, say amen. But don’t you weep.” For the Christian, our coming departure from this world into the presence of Christ, will be cause for rejoicing.
Certain conditions pertain, until that day. Then, for the saints, will come joy and blessing. “He [God the Father will] send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things” (Acts 3:20-21).
Concerning our limitations in assessing the true value of our work–or that of another person–Paul says, “Judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God” (I Cor. 4:5). “For now we see in a mirror, dimly; but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as also I am known” (I Cor. 13:12). What changes the return of Christ will bring!
Those thoughts came to the mind of Stuart Hamblen one day in 1958, and it led to the writing of popular gospel song, Until Then, that speaks of the dramatic change we will experience when we go to be with Christ. It also reminds us of the proper attitude we should have to the things of this present world, and how we should live in the meantime, as we await the Lord’s return.
“This troubled world is not my final home” (Stanza 1). We’d better keep a loose grip on the things of this life, because they’ll all be left behind one day. “They’re borrowed for awhile” (Stanza 2). “This weary world with all its toil and struggle” (Stanza 3), and the heartaches of today are not the end. In heaven they’ll be gone forever (Rev. 21:4). In light of these things, as Stuart Hamblen’s refrain tells us, we can “going on singing,” and “carry on” the work that God has given us to do.
As the Lord Jesus expressed it in one of His parables:
“A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return. So he called ten of his servants, delivered to them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Do business till I come [carry on, in other words].’” (Lk. 19:12-13).
And the business of believers today is to be “ambassadors for Christ” (II Cor. 5:20), and fulfil the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20). Further, the Scriptures add an important note that is not specifically mentioned in Hamblen’s song. That the contemplation of the return of Christ should motivate each of us to a life of holiness.
“Denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Tit. 2:12-13).
“We, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless” (II Pet. 3:13-14).
“We know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (I Jn. 3:2-3).
1) My heart can sing when I pause to remember
A heartache here is but a stepping stone
Along a trail that’s winding always upwards.
This troubled world is not my final home.
But until then my heart will go on singing,
Until then with joy I’ll carry on;
Until the day my eyes behold the city,
Until the day God calls me home.
1) What all should Christians be doing to be ready for Christ’s return?
2) How can we balance practical living in this world, with emphasizing the values of the next?