Posted by: rcottrill | November 28, 2016

We’ll Work Till Jesus Comes

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Words: Elizabeth King Mills (b. _____, 1805; d. Apr. 21, 1829)
Music: William Miller (no data available)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (none)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: Elizabeth King Mills was the wife of a British member of parliament. The fact that she died at the age of twenty-four suggests that she may have been a relatively new bride. She gave us several hymns, including the present one in which she sighs for her heavenly home. A publication of the hymn a few years after Mrs. Mills’s death, includes several darker stanzas that seem to show her extremes of suffering.

No tranquil joys on earth I know,
No peaceful shelt’ring dome;
This world’s a wilderness of woe–
This world is not my home.

When by affliction sharply tried,
I view the gaping tomb;
Although I dread death’s chilling tide,
Yet still I sigh for home.

The dictionary defines work as: “exertion or effort directed to produce or accomplish something.” And work is a fact of life. Whether it’s ploughing a field, baking bread, programing a computer, or performing surgery, we all do work of some kind.

It’s not surprising that we have many sayings that relate to the subject. “Make hay while the sun shines,” we say. And, “All work and no play make Jack a dull boy”–that one comes from more than three centuries ago. “Another day another dollar” seems to have been adapted from a saying by sailors in the nineteenth century: “More days, more dollars.” Then, there are sterner admonitions, such as: “Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.” Or, “no pain, no gain.”

Notice the two components of the definition given earlier There is effort, and there is a goal. And perhaps, in addition, there is an implied point where our labours are expected to end with the achievement of the goal.

As to the effort involved, we try to measure the efficiency of it. Is time and effort well spent with relation to the proposed result? Or are resources being squandered? And when it comes to the goal, we have certain expectations that will measure success and productivity, as we look back on what has been done.

In the Bible, much is said about work, especially in the book of Proverbs. “He who is slothful in his work is a brother to him who is a great destroyer” (18:9). “Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings” (22:29). Or this about priorities: “Prepare your outside work, make it fit for yourself in the field; and afterward build your house” (24:27). And about Solomon’s ideal woman: “Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates” (31:31).

In the New Testament, the focus on works is intensified. Our Christian faith is to be far more than an intellectual exercise. “Faith without works is dead” (Jas. 2:20; cf. Tit. 1:16). If our trust in God is genuine, it will be reflected in our life and service for Him. We will be “zealous for good works” (Tit. 2:14), also encouraging such conduct in others. “Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works” (Heb. 10:24).

One responsibility believers have is the work of edifying, or building up, the church (Eph. 4:11-12). Witnessing for Christ and sharing the gospel (evangelism) is another central task given to us (II Tim. 4:5). “We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain” (II Cor. 6:1). “We therefore ought to receive such [servants of Christ], that we may become fellow workers for the truth” (III Jn. 1:8). This is what is called “fellowship in the gospel” (Phil. 1:5).

We are equipped for this dual ministry (edification and evangelism) by the teaching of the Word (II Tim. 2:15; 3:16-17). And the Lord exhorts us to keep at it, with the assurance that it is not futile. “Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (I Cor. 15:58). In the end, may our testimony be, as it was for the Lord Jesus, “I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do” (Jn. 17:4; cf. 9:4).

Among Mrs. Mills’s hymns is this simply one that challenges us to keep serving the Lord, with heaven in view.

CH-1) O land of rest, for thee I sigh!
When will the moment come
When I shall lay my armour by
And dwell in peace at home?

We’ll work till Jesus comes,
We’ll work till Jesus comes,
We’ll work till Jesus comes,
And we’ll be gathered home.

3) I sought at once my Saviour’s side;
No more my steps shall roam.
With Him I’ll brave death’s chilling tide
And reach my heav’nly home.

Questions:
1) Are you, or is someone you know, suffering in the way Mrs. Mills seems to have done?

2) What has been a comfort and help in this time? (Or what can you share with the other sufferer to be of help?)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (none)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org


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