The text in his daily calendar that day in 1912 was Exodus 33:14, “My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.” Willie Hamilton, a young believer in his 20’s, undoubtably read this verse before he headed off to work that cold winter morning.
Saved in Belfast, N. Ireland, he had recently immigrated to Cleveland, Oh. Having left most of his family and friends behind, he enjoyed the fellowship of other Christians in the Addison Road assembly. To support himself he worked as a carpenter in that growing city, and on January 23, he and another man were working on a house, repairing the exterior of the second floor.
Suddenly, without a sound, he fell from the ladder to the ground below. Whether the fall was a slip or the result of a heart attack will never be known, but instantly he went into eternity, exchanging his work on an old house for the beauty and rest of the Father’s home. It was noon in Cleveland; in Heaven he entered the sunshine of God’s eternal day.
A dear friend in Ireland, Annie Wiseman, was grief-stricken when the news came. She and Willie may have planned marriage. Her tender sentiments hint that this may have been the case, but that is now unclear. In any event, when she heard the text that he had read on the day of his sudden home-call, she penned the following beautiful poem:
“I Will Give Thee Rest”
Tired, My Child? The question came so sweetly low,
Then fret not, thou hast but a little way to go,
Heaven is in sight, and thou shalt see My glory soon,
For I am coming for thee, just today at noon.
How shall I bring thee Home? My own beloved child,
The passage must be swift, the waves must not be wild,
Still I must have thee here, e’er in the clouds I come,
For all My ransomed ones. How shall I bring thee Home?
Just drop thy busy hands, dear one, and close thine eyes,
In one brief moment thou shall have a glad surprise,
E’er thou dost know thou shalt awake upon My breast,
In the clear sunshine of thy long eternal rest.
And so he passed into the presence of his Lord
In haste; nor waited he for e’en one parting word;
T’was as he longed to go, God satisfied his heart,
And in His love apportioned him the better part.
Far, far above the storm-clouds, into light and song,
Into calm unspeakable, His own child has gone,
Not a shade of sorrow, or slightest trace of care,
Not a sin or trial can ever reach him there.
But face to face, with naught to mar communion sweet,
In bliss untold, he worships at Christ’s wounded feet.
Free now to serve Him through the never-ending years,
Father, our hearts we bow, and praise Thee through our tears.