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Words: Mary Bridges Canedy Slade (b. Jan. 18, 1826; d. Apr. 15, 1882)
Music: Alberta, by Asa Brooks Everett (b. _____, 1828; d. _____, 1875)
Note: The Slades lived in Fall River, Massachusetts, a small town made famous a decade after Mary’s time by the lurid details of the Lizzie Borden murder case. The Slades undoubtedly knew the Borden family. Mrs. Slade was a pastor’s wife, teacher and hymn writer. She also gave us Tell It Again, and Footprints of Jesus. The present song was published in 1876 (though the Cyber Hymnal places the date ten years later.)
It’s a device often used in thrillers and murder mysteries. There’s a knock at the door, and tension builds as the occupant inside calls out, “Who’s there?” Perhaps we, as the readers, know the menace and mayhem that threatens, and we’d like to call out, “Call the police! Don’t open that door!” But sometimes they do, and wish they hadn’t!
My wife and I had an experience like that, years ago. In the middle of the night, some men began pounding on our door, demanding that I come out–or else! When I wouldn’t oblige them, they began fighting among themselves. When the police arrived, they found a trail of blood leading away from the house, and they tracked down the culprits. It turned out they were drunk, and actually had the wrong house!
Many of us have welcome mats on the doorstep, and we want to be friendly and hospitable. But we realize that not all who come to call will do so for a benevolent reason. Secure locks, and door viewers, are installed to provide protection from unwanted intruders.
But what if it were to be the Lord Jesus Himself who wanted to come in? In Revelation 3:20 we read of Him saying,
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine [have fellowship] with him, and he with Me.”
In the context, the invitation is given to a local church that had a high opinion of itself, but not in the eyes of the Lord. “You say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,’ and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked” (vs. 17). It was a church whose religion was lukewarm (vs. 16). Even though they may have sung hymns and had polished rituals, they’d actually shut the Saviour out.
The passage is about a church, but it seems to me verse 20 may appropriately be applied to the individual sinner too. He or she may be successful, and doing fine in many ways, even be religious–to a point–but have no personal relationship with the Lord.
In 1853 artist William Holman Hunt finished his most famous painting. It portrays the Saviour as He appears in Revelation 3:20. Hunt called his work “The Light of the World,” a description Christ used of Himself (Jn. 8:12). We see him standing before a door, about to knock and ask to be admitted. The artist pointed out that the door has no external handle, and therefore could only be opened from the inside, representing, he said, “the obstinately shut mind.”
How sad that some would exclude the Son of God from their lives! They have room for many things, things that may bring worldly pleasure and profit, but no room for the One who, in infinite love, desires only the best for them for all eternity.
About that, Mary Slade wrote a gospel song called Who at My Door Is Standing? Whether or not she knew of Hunt’s painting, she certainly knew the Bible text depicted. The song says, in part:
CH-1) Who at my door is standing,
Patiently drawing near,
Entrance within demanding?
Whose is the voice I hear?
Sweetly the tones are falling;
“Open the door for Me!
If thou wilt heed My calling,
I will abide with thee.”
CH-2) Lonely without He’s staying;
Lonely within am I;
While I am still delaying,
Will He not pass me by?
It is a solemn picture. But the author concludes with the right decision:
CH-4) Door of my heart, I hasten!
Thee will I open wide.
Though He rebuke and chasten,
He shall with me abide.
There was originally a fifth stanza to the song, which apparently is not used any more. It simply emphasizes the decision of CH-4.
5) Guest of our love He sees us,
Opening now our door;
“Joyfully enter, Jesus,
Dwell with us evermore!”
1) How does opening a door illustrate the decisions we make in life, and their outcome?
2) Have you personally opened the door of your heart to the Lord Jesus? (If so, what differences has He made in your life?)