My aunt, who is in her 90s, just celebrated her birthday. She has had a long life that has been full of joy, laughter, love, and at times pain. She was born in 1928, almost a decade after World War 1 had ended, in a deep hollow of the Appalachian mountains.
She and her family were hard-working, but like most folks, the Great Depression hit them hard and then another World War. Some of her brothers fought in that war and the man she would marry in 1948 lost one of his legs in the Battle of the Bulge. Work was scarce in those hills of Appalachia — mostly only coal mining, which was a very hard life for men. So, they along with other family moved to Richmond for better opportunities. My mother once told me that the only thing you learned in school was reading, writing, and the road to Richmond.
My aunt and her husband, Hallie, made a good life for themselves in Richmond. Many of her siblings, including my mother and her mother, came to Richmond. Her Daddy passed in 1953 and so my grandmother needed to come to a place where she could work and finish raising the children still in the home. My aunt sheltered many relatives and friends who found their way to the big city until they could find their own homes to call their own.
The long years have passed since that time…meandering with turns and dips and climbs like those rugged mountains. Parents and children and spouses have been laid deep in the earth to rest — leaving a dark void in the lives of those left. The memories of leaner and harder times stick to the soul like the sap from a Maple tree and one-by-one the calls come that yet another loved one has crossed over the banks of the Jordan.
I was talking to my aunt last night and she shared with me that her dear friend and husband’s cousin crossed that river just a day or two ago. She shared with me how her friend had stayed with them when she first moved to Richmond. She remembered her kindness when Hallie was dying and birthday cakes she had made to bring joy to them. Her grief looms largely and her soul seems so barren.
It is so very difficult to say goodbye to these souls who have peppered our lives with their presence. More difficult still when we are left, after so many years, waiting to join them again on the other side of the Jordan where there will never again be sickness or pain or heartache or goodbye. We have this hope because Jesus died for our sins and when we repent, ask forgiveness, He will save us. Therefore, we can live knowing that because we are saved, we will see our loved ones again.
Like Abraham who lived a long life, then died and was gathered to his people, so shall we be gathered to Heaven, our home.
These are all the years of Abraham’s life that he lived, one hundred and seventy-five years. Abraham breathed his last and died in a ripe old age, an old man and satisfied with life; and he was gathered to his people. (Genesis 25:7-8)
Then we will be face-to-face with Jesus and He shall wipe the tears from our eyes, as we enter into eternal rest with Him.
“And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:2-4)
Beloved, as you wait for that glorious day that you too will cross to the other side of Jordan, do not lose heart. Use this time you have to tell others of this eternal hope that you have in Christ Jesus so that they too can enter the holy city…the new Jerusalem.
I am looking forward to the blessing of seeing you there!
Soli Deo Gloria
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)