Monday, October 18, 2010

Joy at the End of the Road - Part 3

On the third day out, at the little camp of Tempele, I had one of the sweetest experiences I have ever had in my life. It was an awful day, for, counting evacues and coolies, there were about two hundred people in our group, but there was only enough water for eighty. As we came down the side of the hill toward the little leaf and bamboo sheds, the captain shouted: “No washing even your face or your teeth here! Drink as little as you possibly can, for there is only water enough for eighty, and we have more than two hundred here!” When the good ones got into camp they formed lines by the five gallon cans of chlorinated water, each waiting patiently for his turn to get a drink, but the selfish ones did not wait inline. They pushed and pulled and fought and quarreled and soon the water was all drunk up.

Then we went to the spring, where a little trickle of water as big as your little finger was coming out of the rock. A line of forty people was waiting, but the bad ones couldn't wait. They pushed and pulled and yelled and shouted to get a drink of water. I saw strong men snatch water from women and children, and I just couldn't watch it. For aught we knew we were all standing on the brink of eternity, and nobody knew what might happen before tomorrow. I said in my heart, “If I die of thirst, I'm not going to look upon such selfishness as that. I will get my drink tonight.” So I went back to camp. “Someone will have to make fires,” I thought, and began gathering an armload of sticks. But when I got back the camp fires were already lighted. I looked to see who was preparing to do the cooking. Can you guess who they were? Yes, it was the people who sang every night, “Lead, Kindly Light,” “Under His wings.” That's where I belong! They are the people I love to associate with, and I gladly took my turn stirring the soup and poking the fire.

I wish you could have been there when the dinner bell rang. The selfish ones who had not gathered a stick could not wait to eat. It is hard work to cook over a wood fire in a kerosene can, and I will admit that the soup was burned on the bottom and smoked on the top, but when the selfish ones tasted it they spat it out and began grumbling and growling, “Rotten old camp! Rotten old soup! Rotten old government.” But you should have seen the good ones eating that same soup. To be sure, they had to swallow twice on the same mouthful to get it down, but they smiled and said, “Well, it is not very wonderful, is it? But it will keep the sides of our stomach from rubbing together during the night, and maybe in the morning it won't be quite so bad.” They are the people I like! That is the kind of people I want to be with. They are the ones I am going to be with all along life's highway, and by the grace of God I am going to be there with the same kind of people at the right hand of God when I come to the end of the road.

After we lay down to sleep that night, H. Baird and I said to Brother Meleen, Brother Wyman, and Brother Christensen, who were quite exhausted after the day's march, “WE are going for water now. Don't you bother to come, we can carry three waterpots as easily as one.” So off we went. Brother Baird had heard that there was another spring, and went off to explore with his flashlight, while I took my place at the camp spring, waiting behind six Indians. After a while the man at the spring, having filled his can, moved away and walked back to camp. As he passed me he saw that I was a white man, and said, “Don't wait here, sahib. You are a white man, move up to the head of the line. They will let you; they are only coolies.” I couldn't speak very much Hindustani, but I could speak enough to say, “Not tonight! Tonight there are no sahibs and coolies! Tonight we are just men. We are all tired and thirsty, and I can wait my turn like a man.” He walked on muttering to himself about the queer white man who refused to push himself ahead of the coolies.

After he left, the next five men began to chatter. Oh how they chattered! But I could not understand what they were saying. I listened, but it was not Burmese or Hindustani or English or American, and I couldn't understand a thing till the man just in front of me lifted his hand, and wriggled his fingers up and down said, “Da Da Da Da Da Da.” Then I knew they had recognized me as the man who played the trumpet around the campfire, and they were talking about me! Oh, how good it felt to be recognized as one of the good people! In the darkness by strangers!

My heart leaped within me, and just then the next man at the spring moved away, and we all moved up one place. He put his can down near me, and I thought he was about to make a head pad. You know in India where they carry so much on their heads, they take a cloth and twist it up into a circular pad and put that on their heads, and I thought he was doing that. Then I heard the sound of flowing water, and I looked, and what do you think I saw? He was filling my waterpots from his can of water! As soon as he had filled them he pointed with a trembling finger right to my heart and lisped in broken English, “You Clistian.” “Then he pointed to his heart and said, “Me Clistian.” I was overwhelmed with delight! I tried to talk with him in English, but he shook his head. He did not know any more English. I tried Hindustani, Burmese, Karen, but he shook his head. The only words we had in common were those simple words, “You Clistian, me Clistian.” And there in the darkness of no man's land I put my arm around his shoulders and patted his back as I said, “You Clistian, me Clistian,” and he returned the embrace and said again, “You Clistian, me Clistian.”

I never expect to hear sweeter words than those as long as I live. You can have your power, position, and fame. I want only to be known as a Christian. It is the sweetest joy I have ever heard. As I went back to camp with my three waterpots filled with “Clistian” water, I rededicated my life to God. “O Lord,” I said, “Help me to live every night and every day so that everybody will always know that Eric B. Hare is a Christian,” and I intend by the grace of God to be that very thing until Jesus comes.

I saw something else in my preview of the end of the world. I saw the punishment of the wicked. No, I didn't see them burning in fire, but I saw the smoke of their torment ascending up and up. It was after we reached the beginning of the Indian road, and were taken to the beautiful evacuation camp of Imphal. We had beautiful bamboo barracks, and hot water to bathe with! Think of it! But again I noticed the good ones went to one end, and the bad went to the other. The good ones at once began to clean up and shave, and what fun it was introducing ourselves to one another while waiting for dinner. But at the other end of the barracks the bad ones were not cleaning up! The only thing they thought about was liquor. They inquired where the liquor shops were, and men and women went off together. When you come to the end of the way it doesn't matter any more whether you are a man or a woman. If you are a good woman, you go among the good people; and if you are a bad woman, you go among the bad people. And there is nothing worse than a bad woman.

These men and women drank all the liquor they could hold; then they carried back all the liquor they could carry. And that night while we were having our usual singing service, they had a drunken brawl at their end of the barracks. This is not what I mean by the punishment of the wicked. I'll be explainign that farther on.

The next morning while we were having breakfast the captain came in, and clapping his hands to call us to attention he called, “Everybody be ready at eight-thirty! Busses and trucks will be here to take you 104 miles to Dimapur Railway station. There you wil be given free tickets to any part of India you want to go to. Everybody be ready at eight-thirty!” It didn't take us long to close our one suitcase and tie a string around our one blanket, and long before eight-thirty we were ready, standing on the side of the road that went through our camp. But again I noticed that the good ones were at this end, and the bad ones at that end. While waiting I couldn't help hearing what the people round me were saying. At this end they were counting their blessings. They were telling of the wonderful dinner they had had last night, and the wonderful breakfast and the clean bamboo platform we could sleep on, and the train we were going to ride on! Suddenly something seemed to tell me to go to the other end of the line and see what they were talking about. I sauntered along casually, but saw not a smile in the whole group there; they had the worst hang-over you could ever imagine. They were grumbling and growling, with the corners of their mouths drawn down: “Rotten old government. Rotten old camp. Couldn't sleep for mosquitoes. Why couldn't the trucks come earlier?” And I went back to my end of the line as fast as I could. You couldn't pay me enough money to spend one unnecessary minute in the company of such people. Back I came to the people who were counting their blessings. That's where I like to be, and I prayed that god would search my heart for the roots of bitterness and criticism, and that He would deliver me from these fearful habits, for I know where grumbling and murmuring and criticizing is going to place you at the end of the road, and I don't want to be there!

It seemed a very little while until we heard a rattle and a clatter, and two tea wagons-something like military trucks-came to the camp. They had canvas roofs and half walls, but no seats inside of them at all. As these tea wagons came in, those at the other end of the line yelled, “These are ours; we were waiting first. There are others coming; you wait for them.”

We just said, “That's all right, you go ahead,” but to ourselves we said, “You couldn't pay us enough money to ride in the same trucks with you.” We watched them loading up. They threw in their boxes and bundles, and as they did so they were fighting, quarreling, cursing, pushing, poking, and knocking people off. At last, squeezed in like sardines, swearing at their drivers, they started off. As they disappeared around the corner one of our group said, “Good riddance. If we never see you again any more, it will be too soon.” And I know five good preachers who said “Amen.” It was not very long before we heard the clattering of more vehicles, and there came into our camp compound three elegant passenger busses with padded seats and padded back rests, and there were no more selfish people to quarrel and fight. We put the weaker ones on a whole seat with a pillow under their heads, we put the womenfolk near the windows, we stacked the luggage carefully, and we checked each buss to make sure that everyone was comfortable. Then with a smile on our faces, we said to the drivers, “All right, let's be going,” and away we went.

Five miles down the road, we passed the first two tea wagons, and that's where I saw the punishment of the wicked. For just a moment we saw them screw their noses into the air as they decided not to notice us while we went by, but they couldn't help it. There they were jammed in like sardines in a can, and there we were driving along in elegance and comfort, with padded seats and back rests, and they couldn't keep quiet. They poked their heads out and began to wave their hands up and down and rave and curse. They yelled to our drivers that it was time to change, or put all the baggage in the tea wagons and let all the people ride in the busses, but our drivers gave them no heed. They drove on, and as we passed them I saw something I will never forget if I live to be a hundred. I saw their arms waving. I could see their lips forming curses and blasphemies, and I will always declare I had that day a little preview of the smoke of their torment ascending up forever and ever. The Good Book truly says, “So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.” Matt 20:16.

We learned afterward that the government arranged that transportation that way on purpose. They found out from experience that human nature generally reacts the same way, and they deliberately segregated the evacues that way, but those selfish people got into the trucks themselves. The first came last, and those who were last came first. We got our tickets and had found our seats on the train two hours before the others came, and in a few more days we were reunited with our loved ones.

I know now that I don't mind being last for a few days in this world. I don't mind letting others go first, as long as I can be among those who go through the pearly gates.

Dear young people, this is what I saw when I came to the end of the road, and again I say, God gave me a preview of the end of the world and the day of judgment. Ever since that experience, as I have driven from one town to another, even the highway signs preach to me and remind me of the reconsecration that I made to god at that time. Everywhere little signs say, “Keep to the right.” When I go to altimore I see them: “Keep to the right.” In Los Angeles I see them: “Keep to the right.” Everywhere I see them, and every time I see one of those signs I rededicate my life to the Lord, and I say, “That is just exactly what I am going to do-keep to the right-for that is where I want to be when the Lord Jesus comes.”

Sometimes the boys and girls embarrass me with their questions about the places of amusement that are to near the middle of the road, if not on the wrong side. They ask, “Isn't it all right to go to a newsreel theater?” “When we hire a skating rink only for Adventists, isn't that all right?”

I do not want to condemn any who do not realize yet that some things that are lawful may not be expedient (1 Cor 10:23), but all I can answer is that I don't go because I want to be away over on the right side of the road, and I'm afraid of some of those places that are to near the middle of the road.

Sometimes I am called an old fogy, but I don't mind. If I am an old fogy, I am a very, very happy one. I just want to make sure that I am away over on the right side of the road, because I want to be at God's right hand when He comes.

I like the way the editor of the Free Methodist expressed it a few years ago in an editorial. He said: “At the Iroquois Theatre fire in Chicago some years ago several hundred persons lost their lives. But I was not there.

“At the Cocoanut Grove fire in Boston a few years ago (1942), 488 persons were burned or trampled to death. But I was not there.

“A the barn dance fire in Newfoundland, December 13, 104 were killed and 130 injured. But I was not there!”

I was not at any of those places either, and I don't ever expect any boys and girls to pick up any newspaper anywhere, and read that some roadhouse or some theater has burned down, and that Eric B. Hare's charred carcass was found among the dead. No! Because I'm going to keep far, far away from those places, so far that it will always be safe for boys and girls to be where I am.

Soon Jesus is coming. Soon the voice from the heavens will say, “It is done.” And what then? Where will you be then, on the right hand or on the left? I can hear your hearts answering. I know the only place where you and I can be happy. You can be there; I can be there. The way is plain. It is marked, “Keep to the right.”

“Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.” (Jude 1:24-25)

The End of the Road

When I come to the end of the long, long road,
The shadows will flee away,
And I'll stand in the glorious light of God,
Where dwelleth eternal day.

Looking back o'er the years that were hard and drear,
The hand of the Christ I'll see;
While my heart will go forth with a song of praise,
because of His love for me.

When I come to the end of the long, long road,
And trials will all be past,
I shall look in the face of my dearest Friend,
Safe home in His heav'n at last.

When I come to the end, the end of the road,
To the land of eternity,
When I come to the end of life's long road,
The face of my Lord I'll see.
-Lizzie De Armond

A Chapter from the book "Fullness of Joy" by Eric B. Hare

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...