As I grow older, learn more from the word of God, and meet more of God’s people, rare though they are, from backgrounds very different to mine, the more I understand of how little I know. It is not that I grow more confused, for on the contrary, the immediate steps that I must take are clear as is the distant goal, toward which I feel compelled to hold fast and persevere. By His grace, God’s people will make it. Already thousands have completed the race and they stand before the Father in heaven. One day, soon, they will return with the Lord, and the church will be consummated.

Here is a hymn my father taught me in the 1970s. The hymn writer imagines the saints returning for this great event. He also speaks about the church of Jesus on earth that perseveres with joy and hope.  As long as I can remember, my father always took the time to explain the meaning of hymns before we sang them. So too with this hymn–his earnest explanations served to make my faith grow and the goal more real.

Do you hear them coming, brother,
Thronging up the steeps of light,
Clad in glorious shining garments,
Blood washed, garments pure and white?

’Tis a glorious church without spot or wrinkle,
Washed in the blood of the Lamb;
’Tis a glorious church without spot or wrinkle,
Washed in the blood of the Lamb.

Do you hear the stirring anthems,
Filling all the earth and sky,
’Tis a grand, victorious army,
Lift its banner up on high!

Never fear the clouds of sorrow,
Never fear the storms of sin.
We shall triumph on the morrow,
Even now our joys begin.

Wave the banner, shout His praises,
For our victory is nigh!
We shall join our conqu’ring Savior,
We shall reign with Him on high!

Ralph E. Hud­son, 1892