Until I Return

    I read a lot. I especially love mystery stories set in Great Britain. Recently I was reading one that took place in modern Edinburgh, Scotland, a city I visited a few years ago on a trip to Great Britain. I loved the city with its fortress on the hill and medieval Old Town. It deepened my appreciation of the mystery story when the heroine passed the statue of Greyfriars Bobby in Old Town. Not only had I seen the statue myself, I also love the story of Greyfriars Bobby.

    Bobby was a dog, a Skye terrier, who refused to leave the cemetery, Greyfriars Kirkyard, where his master was buried in 1858. He spent his life living in and around the cemetery until his own death fourteen years after his master's. The story has captured the imagination of people around the world, and a number of books and films have been based on the real-life characters. 

    What is it about such faithfulness and loyalty that appeals to us?

Faithfulness is a quality that inspires us and stirs our hearts, an attribute of God himself. "Your faithfulness endures to all generations," the Psalmist declares in Psalm 119:90 (NKJV). However, the story of Bobby speaks of the faithfulness of servant to master, of subject to king, of our faithfulness to God, rather than of His to us. In Bible classes and testimony services over the years many have confessed that the words they most long to hear the Lord speak are "Well done, thou good and faithful servant." How does one qualify for that honorable reward? 

    "Well done, thou good and faithful servant," is taken from the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-30. Also in that chapter (vv. 1-13) is the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins. In both parables the main characters are waiting for someone important, someone who is long absent. In the first, the wedding attendants are waiting for the bridegroom; in the second, the servants are waiting for their wealthy lord to return. In both cases, faithfulness includes more than patiently waiting, or "cooling their heels."

    By testimony of those who knew Bobby, the terrier caught rats in the kirkyard. He didn't just sit mournfully on his master's grave; he made himself useful. The wise virgins are commended for their conscientiousness in bringing extra oil for their lamps as they waited faithfully for the bridegroom. The foolish virgins waited just as patiently, but lacked foresight. The faithful servants were commended for their wise and resourceful stewardship of the talents left them by their master. They didn't waste the time or the resources left them while their lord tarried. Being conscientious and resourceful stewards of our time and talents is embedded in the concept of faithfulness. To hope to hear those coveted words from our absent Bridegroom, we must be diligent in those areas as well as waiting patiently for His return. When Jesus left the earth, the Book of Acts records that two men in white apparel stood by who said, "'Why do you stand gazing up into heaven?'" (Acts 1:11, NKJV). Assured that Jesus would indeed return, the disciples got busy, and the following chapters of Acts are filled with the accounts of their faithfulness.

    "Faithful" has many synonyms, including "loyal," "trustworthy," "devoted," "steadfast," "staunch," "firm," "unchanging," "fixed." As Bobby waited steadfastly at the grave of a master who would never return, surely we can set ourselves to be faithful in the shadow of an empty tomb in the service of One who will.

By Margaret Mills