June 30, 2010

At the River Grace

Isaiah 43:1-7

“When you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.”
Isaiah 43:2


I once dreamed that my grandson interrupted our play to ask, hesitantly, “Grandpa, what if the Holy Spirit takes you from us?” I awoke weeping and thought long about the last scenes of John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress.

In one scene, Christiana, her children, and friends gather at the river separating them from the Celestial City. When Christiana is summoned, she says, “Come wet, come dry, I long to be gone; for however the weather is in my journey, I shall have time enough when I come there to sit down and rest me, dry me.” At her crossing she cries, “I come, Lord, to be with Thee and bless Thee.”

In other scenes the last words of each character are recorded. Mr. Ready-to-halt says, “Welcome, life.” Mr. Feeble-mind declares, “Hold out, faith and patience.” Mr. Despondency calls, “Farewell, night! Welcome, day!” Mr. Steadfast, reminiscent of Good Friday, observes, “I am going now to see that head that was crowned with thorns and that face that was spit upon for me.” Mr. Valiant-for-truth, in the joy of Easter, sings, “Grave, where is thy victory?”

I was encouraged that the ones I most identify with, Mr. Ready-to-Halt, Mr. Feeble-mind, and Mr. Despondency, were as welcome as the others. For to all who believe, even haltingly, feebly, or with despondency, grace reigns.

God of abounding grace, we pray today that when we “tread the verge of Jordan,” you will “bid our anxious fears subside.” Through Jesus Christ, Amen.

About the author — Dale Vander Veen

Dale Vander Veen is a retired Christian Reformed pastor who with his wife, Edith, has ministered in California, Washington, and Michigan. They have three married children and six grandchildren. He currently writes a daily e-mail series of devotions.

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