By: Creighton Lovelace
Pastor, Danieltown Baptist Church of Forest City, NC
Chaplain, Moses Wood Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp #125 of Gaffney, SC
My SCV Camp's Confederate Memorial Day observance was held on May 11, 2013. Now, each year around this time as I head out to check on several resting places of local Carolina Confederate heroes, I cannot help but think about the death of General Stonewall Jackson, which happened on May 10, 1863.
It was this great Christian general who uttered, while on his deathbed, those immortal last words: "Let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of the trees." For many Southerners, the question has been which river? As a Confederate, my heart can only tell me - the Potomac River. Capture the Yankee Capital and force an end to the War! However, as a Christian, my heart can only tell me - the "Spiritual" Jordan River. It is this river that the young brave Southern Patriot - Sam Davis (for whom our SCV Youth Camps are named) - sang about some 6 months after Stonewall's death, on the evening before his own hanging. We Christians sing the song Sam sang: "On Jordan’s stormy banks I stand, And cast a wishful eye, To Canaan’s fair and happy land, Where my possessions lie."
Again, remember, General Stonewall Jackson said in his dying breath: "Let us cross over the river..."
The Jordan River has become a symbolic understanding or a euphemism for death. One day we will die. The Scripture tells us plainly in Hebrews 9:27: "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment." The great General said on another occasion: "My religious belief teaches me to feel as safe in battle as in bed. God has fixed the time for my death. I do not concern myself about that, but to always be ready, no matter when it may overtake me."
We all have an appointment, one day, to cross the river, in light of that fact, knowing that death could come at any moment for any one of us - in our sleep, while driving, the Lord knows when - I ask you: are you ready? The General was correct when he said: "be ready."
For recall again, Stonewall said with the last breaths of air: "...rest under the shade of the trees."
In his book called: All the Last Words of Saints and Sinners, Herbert Lockyear recorded the gut-wrenching last words of a lost man named Adams: "I'm lost! Lost! Lost! I'm Damned! Damned! Damned forever!" His agony was so terrible that he tore his hair from his head as he passed into eternity." Again, in the pages of the Bible, we known there was a "certain rich man" which means he really lived and that the account is no mere tale, but real. In Luke 16:23 the Bible records that this Rich Man was in Hell and he lifted up his eyes and cried to Abraham in verse 24: "And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame."
For 2,000 years, while men and women have walked the face of this earth, the Rich Man has been in Hell screaming for just a drop of water. In Hell, he has had No Rest. No cooling water, air, or shade. Torment for eternity. That is not the eternity God has in mind for you. He wants all people to come to Christ and to know Him as Saviour. Acts 16:31a states: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved..."
Jackson has had rest these past 150 years in Heaven with his Saviour. When you cross the river, will you be able to rest? What will your last words be? I pray, dear reader, that you know Jesus as your Saviour. If you don't I would be happy to introduce you to Him. God Bless.