An old story tells of a settler who traveled from east to west, from lands that were settled to lands that were still unknown. Having grown weary of city living and having begun to crave wide-open spaces, he spent all he had on a vast but speculative parcel of land in the far-off territories. When springtime arrived, he sold his home, gathered his family, loaded his wagons, and traveled briskly westward, eager to see the property that was now his.
When he arrived, he was struck by the lushness and beauty of the land, but had little time to consider it further, for his first task was to build a small cabin to house his family. Over the course of the following weeks he dug a well and planted a garden and fenced off a pasture for his cattle. And while he saw that the land surrounding his home was fertile and good, he longed to explore further, to see more of his purchase.
Finally, when the family was comfortable, the cattle settled, and the crops planted, he was able to take the time to properly survey his land. Walking miles to his property’s highest point, he scaled the heights, then stood upon them and looked north, east, south, west, squinting and straining to see all the way to the four horizons. He allowed his eyes to linger on gushing springs of cool water, on gentle ponds teeming with fish, on towering forests flush with game, on open fields ripe for cultivation. He saw water and timber, rock and clay—all that a man could desire. As his eyes eagerly took it all in, his heart rejoiced, for he knew now that his purchase had been good.
Returning to his little cabin he joyfully told his family all he had seen, even if it was only from a great height and from a far distance. Then he explained, “It will take a lifetime to fully discover and cultivate this property that is ours. So we will begin right here and each season we will push out the fences a little further and a little further as we make our away across this vast land.”
My friends, when we traded all we owned for the pearl of great price, we made no fool’s bargain. When we sold everything we had and bought the field laden with hidden treasure, we completed the wisest of all transactions. We traded rags for riches, the finite for the infinite, what we cannot keep for what we cannot lose. We traded it all to become settlers in the Promised Land of God’s divine love.
Whether we have been in this territory for days, years, or even decades, the truth is that we have only just begun to settle it, only just begun to discover its wealth, only just begun to know the precious reaches of the love of God. We have seen the first few acres, plowed the first few fields, enjoyed the first small harvest. We have seen and known him as merciful and gracious and abounding in steadfast love. We have experienced his compassion, his patience, his forgiveness. We have begun to learn how he does not break a bruised reed or quench a smoldering wick, how he grants new mercies with each new sunrise. We have already learned that while his anger is but for a moment, his favor lasts for a lifetime, that while we may weep before him for a night, rejoicing will come with the morning.
But even with all of this resounding in our minds, even with all of this rejoicing our hearts, we must acknowledge that we have still explored little more than the first few steps. There are still vast territories of love laid out before us, still great treasures of love to discover and unearth. We know that through the endless ages we will continue to push out the fences of our knowledge, continue to expand the reach of our understanding.
Yet all the while we must acknowledge we never can and never will reach the end of this land, for it is unbounded and unlimited, measureless and vast. We know that in ten thousand times ten thousand years, we will still be discovering, still be marveling, still be rejoicing at the love of our great God—the love that is greater far than tongue or pen can ever tell, the love that goes beyond the highest star and reaches to the lowest hell, the love that is rich and pure, the love that is steady and true, the love that is infinitely beyond the measure of any man or angel, the love that will be our joy, our song, and our delight through all the endless ages to come.