FRONT-PORCH GOSPEL: We won’t have to cross the Jordan alone!
Good week to all. Welcome to the “front porch.”
One of the most humbling things I've ever heard was when my first cousin Janice came to me and told me about her mama’s final day. “You know, Steve,” she said, “the last thing Mom asked for was for somebody to bring the paper to her so she could read your column.”
I had to pause and take in a deep breath at that one.
It’s true, you know: You never know who’s watching, listening – or reading.
I hadn’t thought of that story for a long time, until I came to a section in a book we’re writing based on the book of Joshua. Perhaps I should say that we are writing stories based on the old Jordan River, because we’re spending most of our deliberations on one side of the river or the other. You probably remember a hundred songs from ages past about the symbolism of the ol’ Jordan – “On Jordan’s stormy banks I stand and cast a wistful eye …” – and you know well that the old rolling stream running through Palestine is a great symbol for the Christian’s crossing over into heaven’s Canaan-land.
It has been a blessing to pause lately to stand over by that river and draw as much inspiration as we can from its picturesque. Of course, if we plow through life a hundred miles an hour, we likely will never get a sense of how it will be at that crossing. We’ll never be able to imagine what that closing sunlit hour will be like when we stand by the river and listen to the angels singing out a most beautiful welcome to us.
Once when I referred to such a scene, a gentleman who professes to be a Christian said to me, “How do you know the angels come?” That question surprised me, even as I am sure it does you. I am a little shocked to write it, because it is the first time I’ve penned the careless question.
How could anyone – a Christian, nonetheless – take issue with the belief that the angels will gather around us at that hour and, I am sure, make that river crossing as peaceful and gentle as floating into a sweet dream?
But you know, I’ve learned something through the years, most of it from those blessed red-clay guides who knew they had nothing better to hold onto than an unshakeable faith.
One thing I’ve learned, though, is that God’s Word will always step in and settle every matter. When you come to such questions, remember that it is no time for lengthy speeches. The beautiful writer Luke in his gospel settles the issue with just a passing thought, in just two seconds. He notes matter-of-factly that at the death of the beggar Lazarus the angels carried him to Abraham’s bosom. With it said, Luke moves on.
Perhaps skeptics don’t slow down their freeway-speed intellectual thoughts long enough to catch the beautiful scenery just outside the window. Or perhaps they figure that a thing cannot be true if they cannot conceive it in a feeble mind of clay. How could unseen angels, they may think, steal our departing spirits away and transport them to heaven’s grand paradise – and nobody, even once, ever see it happen?
Some people, truly, need to stand down by that old Jordan and look across to the other side a great deal more. If they did, perhaps their faith would grow outside of infancy and mature into something greater, more powerful, and fonder. And perhaps they would have just a little bit more of something of substance to grasp when the time comes that they themselves must brush the dew on old Jordan’s banks.
No, I never know who will be reading what I write on any given Saturday morning, even as I do not this morning. I learned that lesson humbly long ago. But I hope that, wherever you are in life, that you’ll keep these thoughts close to you all along the way.
Oh, no, I cannot deny that the old Jordan is deep, and I know she is awfully wide. Her raging tide is swelling, and the roar of her waves can easily make us shiver in fear.
But as wide as she is – as deep, powerful, and raging – I want you to know that the Christian need not fear. You see, you won’t have to worry, because you won’t have to brave her swelling tide – and you’ll never have to cross her raging billows – alone.
Coach Steven Bowen, a long-time Red Oak teacher and coach, now enjoys his time as a full-time writer and preacher of the gospel. In addition to his evangelistic travels, he works and writes for the Church of Christ of Red Oak at Uhl Road and Ovilla. Their worship times are 10 a.m. Sundays and 7:30 pm. Wednesdays. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call or text 972-824-5197.