What Is A Home?
“Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead. There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him. Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.” —John 12:1–3
Here is a beautiful home picture. In these verses God has opened the doors and let us look in upon a beautiful home. There is no father or mother here, but it is easy to know what kind of a father and mother had been in this home, since a brother and two sisters, unmarried, in their love were caring for each other, although the father and mother had gone.
I want to talk to you deliberately about a home, for I am sure that in all the problems that are facing us today we little realize they have found their roots in the fact that the devil has attacked the greatest institution in the world—not government, but the home. If I can in any way hold back the terrible fiends of hell that are breaking in upon the homes of our land, I will thank God for the opportunity.
I have been talking about divorce, I have been talking about how to choose a mate, I have been talking about married life, all toward one end centering around a home; for whenever the home is gone every government in the world is gone. The home is the only institution under heaven that is founded upon love. You may write a splendid constitution, you may have never so good laws, you may have wonderful machines and mechanisms which build up a marvelous system of money-getting and prove of great benefit to the human race, business performed under laws and charters; but, my friend, the home is unchartered, the home has no law but the law of love, and yet it is the strongest bond that men know today.
If it were not for the home you would have no patriotism. Men will not fight who are not home men; men who do not love a home are not fighting men. Men who do not love a flag do not love a home; and if they love a home they love their flag and love their country. It is their home, it is their flag, it is their country, and all the love and the exaltation of that which is vital and which men desire comes out of a home.
If the influence upon a man in the home has not been good, the only way he is ever made a good citizen is for him to come under the influence of someone who was raised in a good home. So the foundation of government goes back to the home.
God wrote the contract for a home in heaven, and put it in the heart of a man and a woman, and every house that is called a home was built—not by a contractor, but by [Love]. He is the greatest carpenter on Earth, and built every kind of a home, even the bird’s nest out in the forest, and the sparrow’s nest under the eaves. It is love, that glorious power that God has put into the hearts of men, that has built every home in the world. It is for this that men slave, for this they will go through everything.
I have seen all sorts of homes. It does not take lumber and bricks to build a home, but a home is that institution, no matter how many are in the family, that is built upon love. If there are many in the family and it is not built upon love, you haven’t a home, but a mess. The trouble today is that we have more “messes” than homes. If homes are built on love, eating on oilcloth is about as fine as eating on linen.
A Love Place
I was one of a family of ten, my father a poor Methodist preacher, at first a missionary to the Indians in Wyoming. We had a simple meal in the morning, mush and milk, spread out on an oilcloth. At noon we had bread and sometimes butter, and at night often times a repetition of the same meal we had had in the morning. There was no kick about it, and we thought it was splendid and fine, because Dad sat at one end of the table smiling, and mother at the other. They loved each other so much that they put a glamour over everything and we didn’t know whether we were eating mush and milk or “leming pie.”
Home does not consist of a kitchen, a dining room, a parlor or bedroom, but it is only a home when there is love in it. It has to be built on love. I had the privilege of traveling with my father as a boy. I wasn’t strong, and he took me with him into the desert places in Wyoming. There we came upon the finest home you ever saw,—a sod-house. If I waited a moment after mentioning a sod-house, I could tell how many of you ever lived in one by the way you scratch, for a sod-house is always a home for fleas. There is no getting rid of them, because the sod is a foot thick, and they can get into the earth and breed their kind and come forth at night and roam around, and they are not particular where they roam.
We drove up to a sod-house that was a real home. They had seen us coming because of the dust cloud over the horses. A woman came out to meet us, wearing a clean apron. Her clothes were worn, but they were clean, and there was a queen-like air about her, as if she owned the prairie, as if it were her domain. She came toward us with the air of the Queen of Sheba offering gifts. She extended her hand to father and told him she was glad to see him, that she did not have very much, but we were welcome to any part of what she had. Father thanked her, and asked, “How long have you lived out here?”
“Three years,” she replied.
“How do you like it?”
“Why sir, it is the most marvelous place.” There wasn’t a tree within five or six miles, and they must have had to dig a long way to find water; but it did not make any difference, to her it was a beautiful country. “Did you ever see a place where there was such marvelous sunshine?” she asked.
“Never,” father explained, “unless it is the desert of Sahara. I don’t believe there is a place where there is more golden sunshine than here!”
She told how at night they could see fifty million more stars than people ever saw in “blue-stocking” Philadelphia,—stars that came down right over the house and sang their songs, making you feel that you did not live down on the earth but out in the Milky Way where you could almost talk to the angels. “Why are you out here?” father inquired.
“For his health,” she said quietly.
“How is he getting along?”
“Wonderfully,” she said with a shining face; “we brought him out on a stretcher, and for a year I took care of him on a stretcher, and now, through this lovely sunshine and this dry climate he is regaining his health. He is coming in now from the barn.” Another sod-house farther back was the barn.
“Yes, he is coming through the garden.” (Sage brush and cactus, but to her it was a lovely garden, more beautiful to her than trellises covered with morning glories). He came along all bent over, one hand on his hip to support him, the other on his chest, coughing, coughing,—with pinched lips, and a peculiar look in his eye characteristic of consumptives, a fever flush on his cheek, and extended a slender, blue-veined hand to father. He was gaining, however. The beating sun-rays and the dry air were driving that spectre from their home, and it was a home, even though only a sod-house. To them it was a beautiful place, and although I was only a boy, the memory was so indelibly impressed upon my heart that whenever I would hear a poem about home, or a song about home the picture of the old sod-house would come up before me.
They had no linen nor oilcloth with which to cover the table, but only a pair of boards on wooden horses, and a chair made of picked up pieces of wood, reinforced with some pieces of canvas. “Did you ever eat any vinegar pie?” she asked father.
“I have heard of lemon pie, and orange pie,” father answered, “but never have tasted vinegar pie.” It beat all the orange pie I ever tasted. How she ever made it I do not know, or what she mixed into it, but when love starts to make a pie it can be made out of sagebrush and still taste delightful. When loves comes in things do not have the value they used to have, but when love goes out of the window things have to take its place.
An Old-Fashioned Home
We have come to a commercial age, a material age, and we think that our fathers and mothers did not enjoy the things we have to enjoy. We have turned to the bright lights and the brilliantly illuminated restaurants, demanding new-fashioned clothes of the finest materials, mixing with people; instead of, as is in olden times, going home at night and to bed with the birds and the chickens, up early in the morning together with the little family circle, where the children knew father and mother. When it comes to really living, this side of heaven there is nothing better in the world than a home that is built on love, where a family gathers around a table brooded over by love.
I can remember our big family, and somehow when there is a large family there are always visitors. Into our home came the most delightful visitors, visitors about whom Dickens would have loved to write. We did not have to read about characters in books, they came and sat down at our table, all kinds of preachers,—some in long coats and soiled neckties and collars and stingy dispositions, and some of the holiest and godliest men I have ever met. We had an opportunity of studying a great congress of human beings right in our own home. Everyone of us boys had a yaller dog, and all the dogs had fleas of different varieties. Any boy is lacking in education who does not possess a yellow dog,—not a brown dog, or a nice dog with a pedigree—(deliver me from a boy with a pedigreed dog), but a poor starved thing picked up out of the alley, loved fleas and all. That is how a boy learns what compassion is, the one who has to have his dad pull him away from a dog and into a bathroom because the family cannot stand the odorous evidences of such association.
I never meet people who are strange to me, for in the old home I came in contact with every kind of a human being. There were twelve different varieties of temperament and disposition, personality and make-up in our home, and from that day to this I have never met a human being whose type I could not recognize.
God intended us to get our education about humanity in the home before ever going out into life. Until men have learned to love a home, to love brothers and sisters in the home, they do not know how to love others on the outside, or love the government. God intended men to go through the school of the home in their early days, so that when they were talked about and had their toes tramped on by folks outside they would know how to act.
God intended that before ever a man became a senator he should be born in a home, work through a home, and know how to give the other fellows a chance to talk. That is the reason they are so “windy” down there in Washington—they never were taught how to keep their mouths shut, with a Dad to state the matter and a mother to second every motion and carry it, and someone to carry you out if you did not vote in the affirmative.
Men lack that kind of education in this age of commercialism, they get away from the simple lives of home and of knowing humanity. Every great man we ever had has had—not a fine schooling nor great opportunities, not great books to read, not men of influence to help him along and show him great favors, but a great mother. He has known a great woman somewhere, and love has made him great. Love goes down into a man’s heart and takes out of him those awful roots of selfishness, giving him compassion for his kind.
Abraham Lincoln was prepared for the White House—not when he studied law, not when he argued his cause, but back yonder when he fell in love, back yonder with a father and a mother and a fireplace in a little log cabin home. When a man gets the idea of God’s plan for a family, of the headship of the father, and obedience to father and to mother, he is fitted by God to command other men, and to lead them aright.
The mothers who have had the influence are those who have respected and honored their husbands. I have known great men who had drunkard fathers, but the mother would do all she could to cover the father’s infamy and shame, and in spite of it all make the boy respect the man who was his father. In her life were deeper things than selfishness, deeper things than the injustice that is among us, that knows nothing about sacrifice for others.
Folks are acting these days as if they all came from one-child families, and that one child spoiled, where the relatives all do for it, instead of the child learning to do for others, the older daughter, the older brother helping raise the little ones as they come along.
A Picture Of Heaven
God has made a home the type of heaven. God calls Himself “Father,” and Jesus Christ is called our “Elder Brother,” and the Holy Ghost is called the Comforter,—that marvelous glorious power of God that mixes into the hearts of men and women who are born again in Christ and have within them the very life spirit of God Himself.
When a child is born into a family there is an attachment between himself and his brothers and sisters. He may fuss with them, but an outsider had better not touch them while he is around. He may scold his own sister, but you had better keep your mouth shut about her. Pity the poor boob who ever criticized a girl who had a few brothers. He needed to have a photograph taken of himself before he ran into the boys.
This trait has been played upon by authors, playwrights, the bond between parents and children, brothers and sisters. It is instinctive, there is no contract signed, people are not conscious of it, but it is away down deep in the heart, and while there may be enmity between brother and brother, let there arise a common enemy and Oh how the family will come together with one voice!
Everyone who ever looked at a home should know there is a personal God who has a Father’s heart. No evolution on Earth, no power of selection or survival of the fittest could ever have carved out this great institution called a home, built on the love that unites a man and a woman. See them when they look into each other’s eyes. Some dynamic spark springs up between them, and they stand with tongues palsied, eyes cast down, and a desire never again to be parted. How wonderful that thing called love, which takes two lives, breaking down every wall between them, making them one, and leading to a day when into their arms is placed a little thing called a babe, and it is not the father’s eyes they look into, nor the mother’s, but “theirs”—not the father’s body, nor the mother’s body which they see, but both their bodies revealed in the child.
God made this thing called marriage, God made this thing called childbirth, God in heaven ordained that when that child came into the world its girl-mother, who before had never had a serious thought, when she heard that little cry, ceased to be a girl and became a full grown woman to stand against every tempest for that child, ready to go with it to the gallows, even, and when the Judge has pronounced the sentence, and the lips are purple and cold and dead, she will kiss them and hug the murderer to her heart,—that is still her child.
The Greatest Dynamic
There is nothing stronger, there is nothing greater in all the world that men know of than love. But there is something more marvelous still, and that is the love of God who put love into a mother’s heart, who knew the power, the marvelous drawing power of the love of man for woman, of brother for sister, love that out of all the created world selects this man and this woman to travel together down through life, looking into thousands of other pairs of eyes, still remaining true to each other, still lost in the love of one for the other, separated from the world unto each other, sanctified to each other, given up to their own family, a wall of love built around them, and while they may be related to other families on the same street, yet they are a distinct little brood producing their kind. Love holds, love binds, and love irons out all the problems of life.
A boy sometimes becomes rebellious and says, “I do not want to live like that,” and goes out; but he finds he has lost something. He cannot turn away from home without losing something, he cannot turn away from God without losing something. There are men tonight who would give every cent they are worth if they could go back home for just five minutes to ask the forgiveness of father and mother for ever leaving them. Young fellow, when you get discouraged about the home business, do not ever quit it. There will never be another like it, it will soon be gone. Don’t pull away from it and try to break down the greatest influence for good that ever touched your life, but count it a holy thing and hold on to it. Fight for that home; stand for that home.
The devil is doing everything he can to make inroads into the home and break up families. It is wonderful to see that divine marvelous power grip two lives and make them one; but Oh, it is an awful thing when you see that relation dissolved, when suspicion begins to creep in, coldness and selfishness and strife, and that marvelous bond begins to be broken, misunderstandings begin, and the children look at the parents and feel that the separation has come! They may not say anything, but there is a hush upon their spirits, and tonight there are orphans by the thousands who were born in homes that were started with love but ended in sin.
Oh how the devil is trying to break up the lives of men and women. Listen to me! If you are married and coldness has come in, before God make any sacrifice under heaven if it means the giving of your life blood to do it, to make that match good before God, to keep that home right before God. Many a bond is almost broken tonight, which could be preserved if you will drop your pride, your selfishness, forget yourself, and think of the life that will suffer in the years to come. God would bless your sacrifice and help you to make the match a good one.
There are young men at the natural age to break out into the world. Do not go out in anger. If you have to leave home be sure you do it in love. Sit down and talk it over with father and mother. When you were helpless they helped you; when you could not feed yourself they fed you. In the nights of your baby sickness and your boyhood ailments they watched over you; when you could not buy your own clothes they clothed you; and some day, when you become a father you will know what they suffered for you. In God’s name, if you have a mother and father, and any respect for God and yourself, go home and square up whatever is wrong and tell them you love them.
Young woman, if your mother has warned you about the company you are going with, do not break her heart, but remember that she knows more about a man five minutes after seeing him than you will know in three months by going with him. God has given her an intuitive knowledge, and you had better walk softly if mother and father do not like that fellow, and thank God anyone loves you enough to warn you. They will soon be gone. Last night I passed the couple who live in the flat above mine. They smiled and spoke and passed by. This morning she lay dead.
Do not take into your homes a spirit of quarrelsomeness; leave that outside, and take in cheer and joy. You only have one home, and it does not last long. I am a young man, and have a brother here near me, but could not get the old family together, for they are scattered all over the world, father is gone, mother along in years, some of the children are gone, and if we tried to have a reunion there would be vacant places. How few of us are left!
If you have a home thank God for it if it is only one room half furnished. I am talking to many broken-hearted men and women, who have come from broken homes. The devil is doing everything he can to prevent folks from ever having a home. Young fellow, the devil is trying to get you into sin, to unfit you to be a decent father or a decent husband. Young woman, he is doing everything he can to break down your health and your life and to bring in complications that will keep you from ever having a simple, godly, lovely Christian home.
The devil is wiser than men, and while men are talking about the government the devil is digging into the home, and chuckles, “Now I would love to see you set up a government, except the government I want of pleasure, lust, selfishness, stopping the unselfishness God has put into homes.”
The devil knew very well how to enter the garden of Eden, how to bring death into that home. After Eve had sinned, what an awful hour it must have been when she sat outside the garden with that boy’s dead form, the first that had ever been seen on this Earth, thrown across her lap. With her poor heart broken, it dawned upon her what death was, while over there stood the boy who had murdered his own brother. Sin in all its hellishness had entered that home.
God ordained homes that we might understand Him. If I had not had a father and mother who whipped me and made me mind, when God started to whip me ten years ago and to bring me into line, I would never have known what he was doing. It dawned upon me seven years ago that the hand of God was on my life and that He loved me enough to go after me.
God has put His hand of judgment upon you, and you are sitting here with something aching and breaking in your heart. Let me tell you that God is a loving Father, a tender Father, a glorious Father and He has too much respect for you to let you get away with sin, to let you think sin will do anything but ruin your life and drive you to damnation. Sin stands between God and men, and the devil is behind sin trying to push it into homes and into lives.
A Circle Broken
The young man who has had a godly father or mother has a respect, a love for them through which God can get into his life. A young fellow in a Missouri city had a good father, although some called him peculiar because of his odd way of praying for his boys. They had grown up in the home, courted a long time before they decided to marry, and married to stay married for a long time. They had gone out onto farms around the county, until finally the last boy was left at home. Their father and mother had been converted in their young married lives, and when it came time for camp meeting the father said, “We will all get ready and go.”
“All but me,” the boy muttered.
“What’s the matter, son?” asked the father solicitously, “aren’t you going?”
“No sir,” objected the lad.
“Dad, I’ve had enough of this religion business.”
“Is that so, boy? Do you think it ever did me any harm? Did it ever do your brothers or sisters any harm, or their families? Bud, I never whipped you much, you are the last of the children, and I have been easy on you. I’m afraid you are going to make it hard for us. Because I have not whipped you, I’m afraid you will have to get your training some other way. You are twenty-one years of age. I could not make my boys smart, but I could always make them mind, and if they did not want to mind they had the privilege of going somewhere else. I will have to do the same with you. If I do not make you mind they will have a hard time with their boys. So, as long as you are eating my grub and wearing the clothes I buy you have to go to church with us. If you want to run your own life you cannot do it here. But if you go, you know what we will do, don’t you? Every morning and evening I will be down at the old cane-bottom chair praying for you in family prayers.”
“I wish you wouldn’t do it. There is nothing in prayer, nothing in religion; but I’ll have a hard time having any fun if you keep that kind of machinery going. I’m sick of it.”
“I am not going to force religion upon you,” returned the father, “I’m only asking you to go with us to meeting. You do not have to be religious, but you can go where I want you to.”
The boy decided to leave home, and after mother had washed the dishes they came to the awful part of telling her. She looked at them with white face, and said, “Let us pray.” Oh I don’t see how men and women can raise families, and live without praying. The mother prayed, and the dad prayed, and the boy had a picture of his mother and father praying, while the tears dropped through the old cane-bottom chair like rain through the holes of the shingles, and the Lord rubbed that picture into the boy’s mind.
He kissed them goodbye and went to St. Louis. He had a letter written by his father to a businessman, saying what the boy could do. The old man sitting at the desk looked like the boy’s father, and said, “Yes, I will give you a job.”
He pushed the button and sent for the foreman, and as the door closed behind the boy and the foreman the old man whispered, “O God, I haven’t a job for the boy, but will get him one anyhow, for my boy has left me, and if I help another man’s boy maybe someone will look after mine.”
With his daddy praying for him in the old home, and the employer praying for him in St. Louis, the boy didn’t have much of a chance of getting away from God. The old telephone bell in Glory was ringing morning, noon, and night from that old farm, and it kept the lad jumping sideways to keep away from conviction. He could spit and chew, and smoke and swear and cuss like the rest, trying his best to go to the devil, writing home sassy letters telling how he was prospering in business (didn’t have a “buck” when Saturday night came), telling them they were a bunch of “rubes” down there who didn’t know they were living; that life was a giddy whirl and there were nicer things in St. Louis than they ever dreamed about, and none of that religious stuff.
Go on and crow, old Buck, spit and fume all you like; you can kick on people that walk with God and call them narrow-minded; but, bless your heart, they have juice running out of their jaws with the honey they are eating from the joy-springs of God. They are free and they are clean, and can look the world in the face, and look God in the face, and there is no joy on Earth like having God make a home in your heart.
The boy fooled around until Thanksgiving time came. Two weeks previous to that day he got an awful craving for turkey,—only turkey you know, and if he could only have one more cup of coffee like mother used to make, and some of those baking powder biscuits soaked in butter, to take the wrinkles out of his stomach. Then he got homesick. There is no sickness on Earth like homesickness. No doctor can cure that.
He was “busted,”—had some little debts he had to square up with the next week’s wages, and all he would have left would be one week’s wages, not enough to go home with the roll he had been boasting about, nor the presents he would want to take. He went along day after day and got sicker and sicker. The other fellows were telling how they were going home and going to put their teeth into some of that lovely turkey and cranberry sauce,—and Oh my, how they stuck the dagger into his heart. He knew every train going home from the city and just how far five cents more would take him on the track, so when he made an extra quarter he could get that much closer to home.
Oh, he did not want to go home, of course, he only wanted turkey, didn’t care anything about seeing dad or mother. But there was something behind it, God was pulling, and God kept on pulling. The day before Thanksgiving he walked in and hung up his hat. Three-quarters of the force had gone. The old man looked at his face through the glass door, and said, “The poor boy feels pretty bad. Guess I had better tell him.”
He walked out and said, “Come into the office.” As the door closed he looked up and asked, “Would you care to go home for Thanksgiving?”
“What did you say?” stammered the boy.
“Would you care to go home for Thanksgiving?”
“If I thought I could walk I would start now,” the boy almost sobbed.
“Well, son, I have been thinking that you ought to go home for Thanksgiving, and I have a little money here I could let you have. You have been working pretty hard, and I thought maybe you would like to go home and see the folks and tell them how de do.”
“Where is it?” There’s a train leaving in seven minutes and I can catch it if I run.”
The man handed over some bills, out the door went the boy. He didn’t wait for anything so slow as a street car, raced to the station, rushed past the gateman, powerless to stop him, grabbed the railing of the last car, sang out, “Goodbye St. Louis,” as the train rattled away, “Going home! Going home! Going home!” Oh what a lovely sound, what a delicious melody. “But Bud, you are going back to your queer old praying father.”
“I know, but he is the dandiest old dad that ever lived,” he thought.
He got in at the little station. Had tried to get off for five or six stations, and sat and “pushed” the train all the way. Did you ever sit and push a train? Finally it dragged its poor old trail into the home station. He did not wait for it to stop, but was off and into the livery stable, untying an old nag, jumping on and half way out of the barn before the owner yelled at him, “Where are you going with that horse?”
“Goodbye, I’m going home,” he echoed back, and away went the old nag.
About nightfall they drew up, he threw the rope over the horse’s neck and it walked into the old corral toward the haystack. The boy went around the house, up to the porch, and looked through the window. The old oil lamp on the sitting room table was shedding its rays on a group of young men and women who had come home to sleep at Maw’s house the night before Thanksgiving. There they were on their knees, a big fire blazing on the hearth. There was Dad with his arms pumping the old can-bottom chair up and down as he plead, “Oh God, we have cried to you so many times. We have only one boy out. Oh bring him back.”
The boy rapped at the window and called, “I’m here; here I am!” but Dad was praying so loudly he did not hear it. One person in the house did hear it, of course, and mother rushed out and into his arms. They walked into the little room, he went up to his father and said, “Dad, I know what I have to do before I join this home circle. I ask your forgiveness before the rest. Dad, I would rather have your Jesus than all the world. They can have St. Louis and everything in it; but I want Jesus.”
It didn’t take them long to lead him to Jesus, and he was soon “ordained” into the family all over again. Oh friends, come back to God tonight, by the blood of Jesus. All the way to Calvary He went to pay for your wanderings and your sin. His blood cleanses all the past and puts you in the home circle of heaven. Say “Lord, I’m coming to you, I don’t want the heavenly circle to be broken.” His shed blood will let you into His family circle and give you peace and rest in your soul.
Let’s go home!