Friday, March 24, 2017

The Unexpected Welcome

Glen and I enjoy walking and we walk a lot.  It is primarily to keep us in shape for hiking, but it is something we have enjoyed doing together for the last three years.  Gradually, over time, we have increased our distance, again to aid us in the hiking we do on the Appalachian Trail.

Last year, as we were hiking in Virginia, we hiked -- not by plan but out of necessity -- 23 miles in one day.  That began a joke between us about walking the distance of a marathon, or 26.2 miles.  We would mention it as we walked and even talked about the places in town we would walk.  We devised a route that would take us by all our favorite coffee shops, because we knew a walk of that distance would take many hours and we would need some coffee along the way!
After about 11 miles

Joking led to planning and planning led to doing.  On February 4th this year, the weather was absolutely perfect and we set out to walk our "Orange Moon Marathon," with only the two of us being participants.  There was no police escort or fans along the way to cheer us on.  Only our family and a few friends knew what we were doing, and we kept them posted on our progress by texts as we passed each milestone.  In fact, one of the highlights of the walk for Glen was the texting he and our  ten-year-old grandson Jackson were sharing during that time.

It was a long day, seven hours of walking, and the moment we set foot again on our own property we hit 26.2 miles.  We looked at our door and a "Finish" sign had been placed above it.  As we walked up our driveway we could hear the song, "Chariots of Fire" (the theme from a movie about a Scottish Olympic runner and missionary) blaring from the kitchen window.

What an unexpected welcome!  To top it off, as we walked in the house, our youngest daughter had designed "Orange Moon Marathon" tee-shirts for us both.  None of this was expected, but it was greatly appreciated as was all the support and encouragement we received along the way.

It reminded me of a song I heard 40 years ago.  A young woman I went to college with stepped up to the microphone and belted out the moving song, "Welcome Home, Children."

A great day is coming
Heaven's gates will open wide,
And all who love the Lord will enter in;
To join with their loves ones
Who in Jesus Christ have died;
Our eternal life in Heaven to begin.
And the Lord Himself will greet us
On what joy will fill that day!
When with the smile of the proudest Father
He'll look at us and say,

Welcome home, children!
This is the place I've prepared for you.
Welcome home, children,
Now that your work on earth is through.
Welcome home, children
You who have followed so faithfully.

Welcome home, children!  Welcome home, children!
Here where I am you shall always be,
Forever rejoicing with me.

The Scriptures tell us "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints." We cannot begin to imagine the joy, wonder and glory we will know in that first moment when we slip from this existence of mortality to that eternity of immortality and incorruption.

"So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.  O death, where is thy sting?  O grave, where is thy victory?"

No matter how wonderful our lives here may be, our best days -- our very best days -- are yet to be!

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