Tom Elliff
Oklahoma City, OK

After pastoring for forty-two years, Tom Elliff served the International Mission Board, first as Senior Vice President for Spiritual Nurture and Church Relations from 2005-2009, then as President from 2011-2014. Tom served pastorates in Arkansas, Texas, Colorado and Oklahoma and as an IMB missionary in Zimbabwe. Tom also served as president of the SBC Pastor's Conference and two terms as president of the Southern Baptist Convention.

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By on December 12, 2014

You know, there’s just something really delicious about getting home! No other sentiment quite matches the feeling of finally arriving where you really “belong.” While there are a lot of incredibly nice places to visit all over the world, nothing evokes that deep, satisfied sigh like propping your feet up in front of the fireplace, “at home.”

While home is wonderful, just getting there can sometimes be pretty difficult. I’ve been at enough family reunions to know that, in the years that have separated them, those happy souls around the table have done battle with the exigencies of life. The reunion is just a brief respite along the road of a marathon filled with detours, distractions and, yes, stumbles. But there we are, at home and together…where we belong.

Early this morning, my dad showed up at home. As is the case for many who die at the end of a long life, though surrounded by a loving family members, Dad was in neither his earthly “house” nor his bodily “tent.” The muffled hallway sounds, strange bed, dim lights and staff visits, only amplified the reality that he was not “home.” But now he is!

Paul reminds us that “if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we (believers) have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Cor 5:1). When my dad’s roommate, a WWII Navy veteran, asked what had happened, I leaned over his bed and said “He’s gone home!” “Say a prayer!” he exclaimed, wanting me to pray for dad. “I’ll thank the Lord that my dad is home,” I replied, “but I’ll pray for you as well.” Like many, that fine veteran is not so certain where home is for him.

Just before my father’s bodily tent was unstaked from the bed and transported out of the room, we sang his favorite hymn, My Jesus I Love Thee.* Though struggling to hold back the tears, we made it through that last verse. In mansions of glory, and endless delight, I’ll ever adore Thee in heaven so bright. I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow, If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, tis NOW!

Bye Dad! So happy that at last you are home!

Rejoice evermore!

Tom Elliff

2 Tim 1:12

*Words, William R Featherston, 1862, Tune, Adoniram J. Gordon, 1876 (Convention Press)

  • Shirley Francis

    So beautiful, Tom. Praying for you and your family.
    Shirley Francis

  • jjrownak

    Tom, even though this is a time of rejoicing over a life well lived and his arrival at his permanent address, I also know he will be greatly missed by those left behind. I pray that God will fill that void and be all you and your family need in the days ahead. Give our best to all. John and Judy

  • Karl W Wallace

    Tom,  you were so blessed to have had your father with you for these many years.  I know that his absence will be felt, but I also know that you know where he is and you also know that one day you will likewise be “going home”.  My prayers will be with you in these days leading up to the celebration of Christmas.  It seems that the special days are often the ones that make us dwell the most on those who have gone home.