When an old soldier stands again
Her voice filled the air with a lovely strength. It was a song I had not heard for a while, an old song, and one full of memories:
“In the dark of the midnight have I oft hid my face while the storms howl above me and there’s no hiding place...”
It was last week during the morning worship service. As the soloist sang, my mind wandered back more than 20 years to a tiny, cinder block house. My wife and I went there each month to have a service with two shut-ins, a man and his wife. I would bring my guitar, we would sing for a while, and then I would preach. Just four people and the God of heaven meeting together.
“’Mid the crash of the thunder precious Lord hear my cry, keep me safe ’til the storm passes by...”
The old couple were both bornagain Christians. He was also a military veteran. Somewhere along the way diabetes had claimed his legs just below the torso, and he had been bedridden for some years. Even without his legs, though, he was huge. I would help his wife pull him up in the bed for service, and he weighed well over 200 pounds. I imagine no one ever wanted to tangle with him when he was whole; the man must have been at least 350 pounds of solid muscle.
“Till the storm passes over and the thunder sounds no more, till the clouds roll forever from the sky...”
Each week we would ask him what he wanted us to sing. He asked for many old favorites through the years, but each and every time he would also ask for this song, ’Til the Storm Passes By. It is a lovely, encouraging song, but it was not till years later that it finally clicked with me.
The answer was in the chorus, but especially in the third verse:
“When the long night has ended and the storms come no more, let me stand in thy presence on that bright peaceful shore...”
He was looking forward to standing again. He knew that, since he was saved, there was coming a day for him when he would receive a glorified, never dying body, complete with two perfect legs.
In fact, he understood that there was coming a day of finality for everything hurtful to children of God. Revelation 21:4 says, “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”
The former things are passed away. No more wheelchairs, no more hospital beds, no more medicine, no more alzheimers, no more heart disease, no more anything that hurts, wounds, kills, or even causes heartache.
His long night has ended; it did so many years ago. I can only imagine what it must have been like for him to stand in amazement and sheer joy, and then just as quickly to bow before the one who made it all possible by his death on Calvary.
Multiple times each week we go sit with a sweet deacon’s wife who is fighting hard against cancer. Her husband went to heaven just weeks ago. I selfishly hope she makes it for a good while longer, she is one of the most encouraging people I have ever met. But for her sake, I am also thrilled to think of the day, whenever it is, that she wakes up in heaven cancer free and pain free.
Every one of us have a responsibility to live as long as we can so that we can serve the Lord as long as we can. But every born again child of God also has the precious promise that one he will “change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body,” Philippians 3:21.
“In that land where the tempest never comes Lord may I, dwell with thee, till the storm passes by.”
Bo Wagner is pastor of the Cornerstone Baptist Church in Mooresboro, N.C., a widely traveled evangelist, and author of several books, including a kid’s fiction book about the Battle of Chickamauga, “Broken Brotherhood.” He can be emailed at [email protected]