One of my daughters gave me a copy of the new biography of Theodore Roosevelt entitled Colonel Roosevelt by Edmund Morris. Actually this is the third volume in a three-part biography of one of the most colorful characters in US and world history.
Colonel Roosevelt picks up with Roosevelt on the African safari he commenced shortly after he completed his second term in the White House. He was met with great throngs of admirers along every stop in Africa. At the conclusion of the safari Roosevelt and his family spent three months travelling throughout Europe, again, greeted with tremendous fanfare everywhere they stopped.
Then came his long-anticated return to the United States. Hopes were high that Roosevelt would run for a third term as president; many Americans clamored for more of this larger-than-life individual. When his ship sailed into the harbor in New York City tens of thousands of people awaited him. As he disembarked from his ship Roosevelt was greeted by dignitaries from every branch of government, as well as people from every walk of life.
As I came to this part of Roosevelt’s story I was reminded of a story I heard years ago of something that happened to some other passengers on Roosevelt’s ship. This unnamed husband and wife were retiring missionaries, returning home after years of selfless service in Africa, where Roosevelt had been hunting for the better part of a year. As they disembarked they saw the spectacle of the crowds awaiting the president. They heard a band playing in the background.
But for the returning missionary couple there was no receiving party; in fact, not one person was there to meet them. Discouraged, the husband sadly groaned, “I didn’t want a parade, but at least someone could have come to welcome us home!” With that his wise wife turned to him and replied, “Honey, we are not home yet.”
It’s important to keep our lives in perspective. This world is not our home; and neither will we receive our applause from this world. The Apostle Paul understood this: “On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts” (1 Thessalonians 2:4).
Live this week with eternity in mind. Live for the applause of heaven, not for the applause of this world. One day all God’s faithful servants will be welcomed home; their reward will be the long-awaited words of the Savior: “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:21).