Holy Homesickness—a Heart for God
by Paul Settle
O LORD of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in You!
Each of us who confess Christ as Lord and Savior should be characterized by what we might call a holy homesickness—a heart for God and His house.
Each of us, if our hearts are right with God, cry out for intimate fellowship with Him and all those whom He has lovingly gathered to Himself. Our souls long—even faint—for that fellowship found in the LORD’s courts. There we will raise our voices in songs of joy and praise to the LORD of hosts, the living God who dwells in our midst. That place of worship is precious to us because of the Person who dwells there: the holy God Himself, our King and our God. He is discovered there in His Word preached, the prayers offered before His throne, the sacramental signs of cleansing, sacrifice, and continuing nurture.
The Christian life could be characterized as a holy pilgrimage to that distant home where God is. Each pilgrim has discovered that those who yearn for Him with holy homesickness as they make their way to God, will certainly find holy happiness.
For holy happiness is found near the altar of God Almighty; the altar where the blood of the Lamb their Lord was spilled as a propitiatory sacrifice for the sins of those who, by grace, walk the way to God. Yes, even for our Lord—no, as for our Lord above all others—the way of the will of God was and is the way of sacrifice—the way of self-sacrifice. And those who would follow Him learn, like the pilgrims of old, that for them, as for their Lord, it is the way of the cross that leads home. This is the way to happiness, for this is the way to God.
And this marvelous discovery—this holy happiness—is possessed only in and by the strength God gives to those who set their hearts on Him. The highway to God is not an easy way—it is narrow, and curves sharply through many switchbacks as it leads steeply upward through a high valley of weeping. The trail crosses waterless, gloomy wastelands, crisscrossed with gullies that hide bandits and wild beasts. But each pilgrim perseveres, making his or her way upward by faith, discovering rich blessings of grace in the hardships experienced on the way to Zion. The high valley of Baca (“weeping”) is transformed by faith into a place of springs, and early rains cover it with pools. Weeping is turned into wondrous praise, and weakness into wonderful power. The traveler goes from strength to strength, faith and deep yearning for God growing with every exhausting step along every rocky path. Though the plaudits, pleasures and promises of the world, the flesh, and the devil would tempt the faithful to turn aside, those in whose hearts are the highways to Zion lay hold ever more firmly on Him who is a sun (light, joy, heat, energy) and a shield (protection, courage, victory). The LORD God has promised to bestow favor and honor upon His own, and to withhold no good thing from them.
With self-denying trust in God each pilgrim embraces the ultimate holy happiness—the ultimate blessing of all those who live to glorify and enjoy God, who have not seen but believed—the inexpressible joy that is the destination for every Christian pilgrim: the Beatific Vision: Jesus, face to face.
Beloved, we are going home to our Father God. We are on the way. We walk together to Zion. By the good pleasure of God, who enables all true pilgrims to walk the walk so beautifully portrayed in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, we shall gaze, one glorious Day, upon His face, the face of Jesus, who has gone to prepare a place for us, the dwelling place of the LORD of hosts, the house of our King and our God. The pilgrimage will be over. We will be home.
And we will never be homesick again.
“O LORD of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you!”
“God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” —I Corinthians 1:9
“Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus.” —Revelation 22:20c
About the Author
Rev. Paul G. Settle
Paul, a native of St. Albans, WV, attended WV University, and graduated from Bob Jones University and Columbia Theological Seminary. Ordained to the gospel ministry in 1959, he has served churches in West Virginia, Alabama, Florida, North Carolina, Texas, and South Carolina. He served also as the first Coordinator of the Committee for Christian Education and Publications of the PCA, and as the Director of Ministries at the Ridge Haven Conference Center, near Brevard, NC.
He was the only full-time executive employed by the Steering Committee for a Continuing Presbyterian Church, whose efforts culminated in the establishment of the Presbyterian Church in America. He has served on many denominational committees, contributed articles to a number of periodicals and authored several books, including The Memory Work Notebook, Changeless Truth in a Changing World — Meditations on the Westminster Confession of Faith, and To God Be the Glory, a popular history of the PCA, celebrating the denomination’s 25th. Anniversary. Paul served as Moderator of the PCA General Assembly in 1980. North Texas Presbytery granted him honorable retirement in February, 2007.
Board memberships have included Westminster Theological Seminary, Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, The Presbyterian Journal, The Presbyterian Guardian, WORLD Magazine, and Women To the World.
He was married to Georgia for 54 years. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2002 and was taken home by the Lord in September, 2010. Georgia was the first Consultant for the Women In the Church of the PCA, wrote two WIC study guides, Seasons of Change, Seasons of Grace, and Women of the Bible, and was a founding member of the Board of Directors of Women To the World, a mission organization that ministers to women the world over.
He has two children and three grandchildren.