Posted by: rcottrill | July 10, 2017

God’s Tomorrow

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Words: Alfred Henry Ackley (b. Jan. 21, 1887; d. July 3, 1960)
Music: Alfred Henry Ackley

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Alfred Ackley)
The Cyber Hymnal (Alfred Ackley)
Hymnary.org

Note: Ackley was a fine musician, and wrote hundreds of selections, including the familiar gospel song He Lives! His brother, Bentley DeForest Ackley (1872-1958), was also a gospel musician, who wrote many tunes for the texts of others (e.g. for James Rowe’s I Would Be Like Jesus).

It’s a saying whose source is unknown: “Plan your work and work your plan.” In other words, establish your priorities, and organize a schedule to reach your goal. Then, tackle the work according to your plan. Politicians and coaches have been heard saying it. And the book of Proverbs from about three thousand years ago gives us something similar:

“Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty” (Prov. 21:5, NLT).

Planning a course of action has value. The Lord Jesus said: “Which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it–lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him” (Lk. 14:28-29).

Living life in a totally random, disorganized way isn’t usually a recipe for success. Further, not being organized can add to our stress. As positive thinking guru, Norman Vincent Peale, observed, “Lack of system produces that ‘I’m swamped’ feeling.” Even in office work, a cluttered desk and a cluttered, disorganized mind will often go together, making it harder to get things done.

It’s good to prepare and get things organized. But that is only half of the story. Having a rigid plan that’s followed obsessively can be counter-productive too. We need to, as another saying puts it, take time to smell the roses. And sometimes the unexpected interruptions of our plans give us unique opportunities to help others. That’s why it’s useful to have a flexible plan that can be adjusted as needed.

We see that illustrated in Christ’s parable of the Good Samaritan (Lk. 10:30-35). No doubt the traveler had a plan for the day. Possibly he was a merchant, on his way somewhere to sell his wares, or conduct business of some kind. But along the road he came upon a severely wounded man who’d been robbed and left “half dead.”

The Samaritan could have said, “I’m too busy for this. And it’s not my affair.” But he didn’t. He saw the stranger as his “neighbour”–the point of Jesus’ story (Lk. 10:29, 36-37). He not only cleansed and bandaged the beaten man’s wounds. He took him on his donkey to an inn, asking the innkeeper to let him stay there as long as necessary, promising to pay whatever was owed the next time he passed that way. That is neighbourliness–and flexibility.

An unusual example of flexibility in the moment was experienced by pastor and hymn writer Alfred Henry Ackley. On one occasion in the late 1920’s, he was seated on the platform during the Rally Day program of his Sunday School, the kind of event often held in the fall to recognize teachers and other workers before the whole congregation, and get the program off to a good start.

Alfred Ackley knew what he was going to speak about later in the service–or, at least, he thought he did. But a phrase unconnected with that kept flashing into his mind, “God’s tomorrow…God’s tomorrow.” In short order he thought of line upon line of a new song. Feeling a sense of urgency about it, he left his seat, and went next door to the manse, where he quickly wrote out the words and music.

Then back to the church he went, and back to his seat on the platform. But when he rose to speak, he had a new theme. He spoke to those assembled about heaven, likely describing some of the changes we look forward to (cf. Rev. 21:4). As the song puts it, God’s tomorrow in heaven will be a day of gladness, of greeting, and of glory. The pastor ended by teaching them all the chorus of his song. And the pastor says, “How they did sing it!”

1) God’s tomorrow is a day of gladness,
And its joys shall never fade;
No more weeping, no more sense of sadness,
No more foes to make afraid.

God’s tomorrow, God’s tomorrow!
Every cloud will pass away,
At the dawning of that day.
God’s tomorrow, no more sorrow!
For I know that God’s tomorrow
Will be better than today.

Questions:
1) Other than meeting the Lord Jesus, and reunions with family and friends who are there, what are you looking forward to most about heaven?

2) What is your favourite hymn about heaven?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Alfred Ackley)
The Cyber Hymnal (Alfred Ackley)
Hymnary.org


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