I’ll never forget the year that Christ looked down through the corridors of my life and showed me the path I was to follow. It would be a path of deep submission to the will of God, for all the crossroads intertwined at this point waiting for my obedience to follow the will of God. The year was 1966 and at 17 years of age I would soon be finishing my Grade 11 year in school.
Being the oldest boy in a family of nine children, I was splitting wood in my back yard helping to prepare the day for my family. We lived in a very isolated area of the country and my mother, a single parent, worked as a domestic. Yet on Sundays in those deep woods where we lived, the neighboring children would gather at our home and I would conduct a Sunday school class for them. The Lord had my attention on that particular day in the backwoods of Sylvester, N.S.
As I split the wood, my thoughts pondered about the future path for me to follow. Life was very difficult for all of us. I asked the Lord what He had planned for me. Would I finish school or quit in order to help my mother keep us all together? Would I become a Salvation Army officer as people in my Corps expected me to be? Did the Lord have a beautiful spiritual soulmate waiting for me? What would my occupation be if not an officer? Was there a way out from the weight of problems our family suffered during those earlier years of my life? How would I know what the Lord had planned for me?
Then these words suddenly came to mind: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him and, he shall direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6). I fully surrendered my life to Him that day and I felt a sense of peace that God was in charge. My Calvary Road was made clear and I started to sing as I chopped my wood: “Take thou my life, Lord. In deep submission I pray. My all to thee dedicating, accept my offering today.”
However easy it may sound to you from what I have written so far, there are many unknown circumstances that the enemy of our souls throws our way to change our course. Like the railway track that went past our home, there were many bridges to cross and sharp bends along the way; and, until you walked those tracks you just had to have faith that the track laid out for us by Jesus Christ would lead us homeward.
The Sylvester Bridge over the Middle River connected us to the Granton side and then the path curved slightly onwards to Alma following the course of the Middle River. God poured out His blessings even through the challenges that followed. Your career was established, your family grew, and life seemed to flow naturally like the river beside the tracks.
Then suddenly just after the Alma CNR station, there was a sharp curve and now you were in front of the Horne’s Bridge and there was a very deep gully to cross over. You never knew if you would have time to cross over the high bridge before the train would be approaching. Like the bridge over troubled waters, you had to have courage to cross over if you were to succeed to your destination.
For me this past week, the path God chose for me to follow lead me to Vancouver to bring comfort and encouragement to my brother George. Cancer was racing through his body at the age of 62 years. He had just recently been diagnosed and I wanted to be there for him. There was nothing more the doctors could do for him.
The waters of my soul were troubled. We spent five days together. I knew he did not have much time left so I prayed fervently for strength to hold on to faith. This holding on in the midst of great pain and suffering is something George tried to explain to me. It was like a 10kg bag of flour always a weight upon his chest. Pain medication helped some but the weight bore constantly down upon him. He knew the end was near.
The path of prayer opened and we saw the bridge ahead through many tears. Would he get across safely to eternity awaiting him? Only God would know the final answer. The gully was very deep and my heart was so sad. I heard the train whistle in the distance and in faith believing, prayed that George would safely cross over to the Other Side.
Fred Jeffery is a retired school principal and member of the Salvation Army.