There’s something about the thought of going home that brings on a rush of emotions. As a kid, the one popular Christmas song that hit me the hardest was “I’ll be Home for Christmas.” It was hard for me to even imagine being away from home at Christmas time and the song always put a lump in my throat. In many black churches, funerals are called “Home-Going” services. Even though we have no idea what heaven will be like,
there is a hunger in our hearts to go there. There are times in our lives when we feel like
we’re going home, even if it’s to a place we’ve never been to. Many years ago, I wrote a song about settlers moving West in Prairie schooners. They were traveling into the
unknown, and yet they felt that they were going home.
Ships on the prairies that never sailed the
Carrying all that they owned
Sailing for mountains that they’d never
Sailing away to home
“ Ships on the Prairies”
Jesus comforted us by saying:
In my Father’s house are many mansions; if
it were not so, I would have told you. I
go to prepare a place for you.
If ” home is where the heart is,” then “I intend to make heaven my home.”
Give Me a Call When You Get Home
“Give me a call when you get home. I just want to know that you got there all right.”
We’ve all said that to someone we love when they were traveling somewhere. It doesn’t matter how far they’re going . It might be a ten minute drive on a snowy winter’s night, or a trip overseas. It’s a relief to hear from them when they get there. It puts our mind at ease.
Of all the journeys that we take in life, the longest one is our last journey home. My wife and I shared that journey with my mother through the summer and fall of 2006, along with the rest of our family. The old hymn says:
You’ve got to walk that lonesome valley
You’ve got to walk it by yourself
Ain’t nobody here can walk it for you
You’ve got to walk that lonesome valley by
There is a lot of truth in that statement, but it isn’t the whole truth. In Psalm 23, David wrote about that lonesome valley, offering comforting words of encouragement that God would be there by our side.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of
the shadow of death, I will fear no evil:
for thou art with me: thy rod and thy staff
they comfort me.
Mom had the company of God on her long journey home.
Sometime back in the 60’s I wrote a song, I’ll Be Home. The lyrics to that song kept
coming back to me in mom’s final weeks, and they seemed to be her words as much as mine:
There’s a dark road ahead that I wearily
And the night is cold
But his face I can see, and it beckons to me
And I believe all I’ve been told
Though temptation is great, I will not turn
I must journey on
For the end is near, and death holds no fear
For I know what lies beyond
I’ll Be Home by Jerry Rasmussen
Mom knew where she was going, and as she got closer to the end of the road, you could hear the excitement building in her voice. She began having visions of being reunited with her mother who died when mom was just 13 years old, and dad was there to greet her, too. Most of all, she was looking forward to sitting down to
“have a little talk with Jesus.”
Just a Little Talk with Jesus by Cleavant
Despite the increasing desire to go home to Jesus, Mom wanted to hold on until she could celebrate her 99th birthday. We hadn’t seen her in almost a year, and I think that she knew in her heart that it would be our last chance to be together.
The week we spent with mom celebrating her 99th birthday was very sweet. She hadn’t been out of Assisted Living where she had her room for almost a year. One of the first things she wanted us to do for her was to take her for a ride in the country. That was always a great love of mom’s and dad’s. They knew every tree, rock, creek, woods and farm within a fifty mile area. They’d go for rides in the summer to favorite places where dad would collect wild plums, blackberries, wild asparagus or mushrooms. In the fall, dad knew where every hickory tree was within driving distance, and he’d collect bushel baskets full of nuts that he’d spend half the winter in the basement patiently cracking open. He’d end up with several quarts of hickory nuts to share with the family by the time spring rolled around. Just driving through the country was pleasure enough, in itself. We took mom down along the River Road and through Afton, where her father and mother had a farm when she was young. Then we drove down narrow country roads, with mom pointing out homes of old friends or places where Dad had gone fishing or hunting. Though we didn’t speak about it, I think that we all realized that the drive through the countryside might be the last one she’d take: and it was.
The night of September 12th was a dark one for mom. Her breathing was becoming more labored and her heartbeat was slowing down dangerously. As she lay there in bed in her room with the end of the road finally in sight, the ceramic angel lamp on the windowsill next to her bed suddenly came on by itself. Mom had an angel to guide her in that final, dark night. And Jesus welcomed her home.
When Reverend John Froiland, chaplain at Cedar Crest where mom lived, came into her room that morning, he noticed that a book I’d sent her
was lying open. It was My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers. It was opened to a scriptural reading from Matthew:
Come unto me all ye that labour and are
heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
And he knew that all was well with mom’s soul. She’d gone home to Jesus.
All my sorrow and pain will not be in vain
When I reach my goal
When he takes my hand, then I’ll understand
And his love will cleanse my soul
I’ll be Home by Jerry Rasmussen
And when Mom got home, she gave me a call, just to let me know that she was all right.
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