Step into the Garden
I am a stranger on earth; I belong in your house.
I was 10 months old, when my father, preaching from the pulpit of Journeycake Memorial Church in Ponca City, Oklahoma, collapsed, and a few days later, died of pancreatic cancer.
He left behind five children and his wife, our mother. The eldest child was my sister at eighteen, and I, the youngest, a babe in arms.
According to my brother, our dad was delivering his sermon as he had done a thousand times before, when he clutched his side, crumbled in a heap on the dais, and was gone.
My sister recounts the train ride from Oklahoma to Atlanta, where my mother’s family awaited our arrival. Several trains actually. From Ponca City to Kansas City; from Kansas City to Birmingham, and from Birmingham to Atlanta. It was 1937, and August hot, she said; and with no air-conditioning, the train windows were down. Cinders from the smoke, burned her eyes. She remembers the cinders.
Can you count the times when you have felt like an alien on earth? Times when you seem disconnected to the human experience? Times when you so long to be in heaven where you belong instead of where you are now? You remember that you are a citizen of eternity, and a “foreigner” to planet earth, to the society in which you live.
It would not be a stretch to say that all who take their Christian faith seriously, those who desire intimacy with God, would, at times, acknowledge such feelings. It is sometimes surprising to find yourself thinking like this – earnestly looking forward, anticipating the denouement of your redemption.
But, when you think about it, it is as natural as the nose on your face. It is as natural as childbirth; as natural as a waterfall. It is deliciously concomitant to the person in whose body, soul and spirit, resides the presence of the Holy Spirit.
This beautiful, sweet Spirit, you see, is not encased in a casket in the baggage car of the train. It is as if he were sitting next to you, looking up from his newspaper, and peering over his spectacles, he says to you, “We’ll be there soon.”
It is a happy thought. A wondrous, happy thought. Especially as we continue to brush the cinders from our eyes.
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