Bible, Life's Moments

Brewer Road

Brewer Road. Douglas County. Georgia.

My sister married into a large family that came from Brewer Road.

The last name of that family is Camp. The family is even bigger these days. Included in the family is Jeff, my nephew.

Living so far away we do not get the opportunity to know one another very well. My loss.

However, a little less than a month ago, Jeff and his Mom, my sister Barbara, came to the great northwest for a short visit. The visit was prompted by the death of my other sister, Floria. Now, okay, not the best circumstances for a visit, but still the visit was sweet. I learned a few things on account of that visit. Barbara is a great Mom. Jeff is a great son. And I’m positive I can say the same kind of thing about the rest of that Georgia family.

Jeff could not contain himself. While I have met his wife, Amanda, only once (and that on their wedding day), and have never met his beautiful little girl, McKoy, I feel as though I know them well. Jeff simply spilled and gushed tid-bits and news regarding both of them. If Jeff has ever hit a home run, shot game while it was on the move, succeeded at business beyond the expectations of others, or any other way gained some small town fame, I would not know. He didn’t talk about himself. He talked about others.

His wife.
His daughter.
His Mom.
His Dad.
His brother.
His extended family.
His co-workers.
Even the former sheriff of Douglas County (if you ever meet Jeff, you will want to ask about the Sheriff).

And it was all positive. And sometimes what he shared was priceless.

One of those stories took place on old Brewer Road. If you can recall the song by Brooks and Dunn, “Red Dirt Road,” then you’ll have a good picture of Brewer Road back in the day. Now for just a few moments allow yourself to transport back to the early 50’s. That’s right, right back in the middle of the last century. Picture for yourself an old, red dirt road stretching and winding its way through the pine trees, kudzu, scupanon vines, corn fields, and cabins with nothing but dirt for yards.

Now imagine a young man walking that old dirt road with nothing but a duffle bag hung over his shoulder. Mixed in his heart were the expectations of joy for returning home and the exasperation of pain for remembering war. His name is Ernie. He was coming home from Korea. Ernie was one of seven boys born to Fred and Manie Camp.

Imagine also a mom, dad, and six brothers standing, milling around, kicking the dust, chatting, longing, looking for him to round the curve and enter into sight. Early in the morning they gathered. Eagerly they waited. On that day they waited. Think about that…that day, for them, today, their day, his day…an epic day…a day they had contemplated and anticipated…time stood still on that day. It stood still the way you want time to stand still. It stood still with the joy of life not the humdrum of life. Time is like that. When you are focused on the event, the celebration, the glory and the hope, time is inconsequential. Ernie’s soon and coming return produced this kind of hope. It was more like an eternal moment than minutes and hours on a slow southern day.

And then it happened. No confusion. No mistake. Recognition was perfect. The son and brother came into sight. He ran. They ran. The dust of the old dirt road churned. Whoops and hollers from deep southern drawls sang their way through the dark corners of woods and swamps spreading the light of their joy. Young legs carried young men toward one another. Older legs of Mom and Dad trailed behind, not for want of enthusiasm, but simply for age. Six brothers reached their brother. The reunion would be spectacular. One brother plowed right through them. Ernie’s eyes were on Mother and Father. Yes he wanted to rejoin his brothers. He wanted to hug them. Talk with them. Catch up with them. But first…first came Mom and Dad. He ran into their arms. The son was home. The parents were content. The brothers watched. Deep satisfaction paved old Brewer Road. Beautiful. Incredible. Fantastic. I can imagine Mother Camp whispering in the ear of her returned son, “Well done. I’m so glad you are home.” I can also imagine his tears of joy.

As Jeff told me this story, his eyes also filled with joy…not tears of joy. Instead, his eyes were afire with joy. Genuine excitement moved him body and soul. He recalled his Uncle Don telling this story now enshrined in their family hall of fame. His Uncle Don—the preacher—loved this bit of family history. It reminded him of His Story. It reminded him of heaven.

Heaven, where time stands still with the event of God’s glory.

Heaven, where every reunion pales in the light of our union with God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Heaven, where all the out-stretched arms of loved ones who have gone before must yet remain empty of our embrace as we thrill for the promise of the Everlasting Arms.

When one finally reaches the final destination, he or she does not run into the arms of anyone other than the most beloved. So, for a little while, can you allow yourself to be transported to your final destination? Does that destination look like the one described by Jeff and before him his Uncle Don? Does your destination sound and feel like this:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. Revelation 21:1-6

Will your destination find time standing still with joy and expectation? Will the glory of the never-ending event of the presence of God satisfy all your longings? Will you run past all the others into the Everlasting Arms? Will you hear the Savior say, “Well done. I’m so glad you are home?” Will you?

There is a road.
There is an old dirt road.
It is paved with memories.
It’s called Brewer Road.
There is another road.
There is a long narrow road.
It is paved with life.
It’s called Salvation Road.

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Bible, Life's Moments

A Glimpse of Heaven

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A dear friend of mine sent me a slide show of the magnificent statue “Christ the Redeemer” that stands atop Mt.Corcovado overlooking Rio de Janeiro. The statue—standing 38 meters from foot to head—was designed by Brazilian Heitor da Silva Costa and created by Frenchman Paul Landowski. Their work not only stands as a testament to their genius, but to our Savior. In my friend’s email, I read, “I will hold this dream close to my heart to one day make this climb and see this in person. I can only imagine !!!!!”

I can not agree with her more. I believe I would stand in absolute awe if I ever had the privilege of visiting this monument to Jesus. The pictures she sent stirred my heart…but not simply for a visit to Rio de Janeiro. It was something else. The pictures made me wonder, so I answered my friend’s email. The words I wrote then are for everyone who calls upon the name of Jesus.

“I hope you will one day fulfill your dream. I can only imagine what standing at the base of that giant statue must be like…but how much more so walking into the out-stretched arms of our Savior Jesus in heaven. Can you imagine? He embraces you. You melt into his hug. Your eyes peer over his shoulder…and you behold the vista of heaven. Rolling on and on before you is the splendor of eternity. Inhabiting the landscape is Moses…Solomon…Deborah… Rahab… Peter…Gideon…angels, my oh my, angels… seraphim and cherubim…and look, there’s Michael.

Dotting the hills and valleys and plains and mountains are mansions prepared for each of the Savior’s followers. Almost overlooked, because you gaze upon this magnificence, are the loved ones who inhabit some of those houses of holiness. On earth, you missed them ever so greatly. Now they surround the throne of God with their hands reaching toward you. No, not you. They reach toward Jesus. And then, then—only after they have filled their eyes with the Lamb of God—they turn their eyes upon you and you glory in their welcome.

Nearly undone with the millions of sensory inputs cascading through your very soul, you glance down ever so briefly only to behold that upon which you stand. Could it be? A sea of crystal? You see into it. Down into it. Deep, deep, deep down…as if it might descend to infinity. It undulates with the rhythm of heaven. Yet it is more solid than any place you have ever before placed your feet.

Having witnessed infinity at the feet of Jesus, you think to look up. The glow of the light of Christ illuminates an expanse so vast no eye can penetrate its reach. At one and the same time you see worlds flickering in the distance as you once did on earth, but you also see them up close and personal as if you were walking upon them…and at once you realize you are no longer exercising earthly eyesight, but heavenly eyesight. Never again will you see as through a mirror darkly. All of this. All of this is yours, but not yours. It is the Lord’s—and he gives it to you without reservation. You see it. You experience it. You revel in it. You long to explore it…and then that wonder fades. You look no longer upon the vistas of heaven. You no longer peer over the shoulder of Jesus. You lift your head. You turn it ever so slightly. You lift your eyes…and they meet his…can you imagine…you look into the very eyes of love and compassion and sacrifice and wisdom and grace and peace and righteousness and mercy. Yet none of these compares to something else you see.

You see God. The eternal. The infinite. The Spirit. And you finally understand. The limits of time and space and matter have been stripped away. You observe the very mystery of creation and all that was eternal before creation. Your heart accelerates. The love you feel is overwhelming. If it were not for his hug, you would fall upon your face before him. Yet still you look into his eyes…deep into an endless gaze…and you see one more thing. You see something no other will ever see. You see into the heart of the everlasting second member of the Trinity. You see him spreading his arms out wide upon that old rugged cross. You see into his soul and mind…and you see you. There in that most important moment of history…in all of his agony…as he became a sin sacrifice for the world…you were front and center in his thoughts. As blood spilled upon his now unrecognizable face, the corners of his lips lifted, because…because he smiled.

Oh my God, my marvelous God, he smiled. He smiled for you. He did. He does. He always will.

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