Out Of The Darkness

by Dody Gibson

On August 17, 02 my husband Tom and our daughter Becky went to Washington, D.C. to participate in a twenty-six mile walk. It was sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, a group that wished to raise funds and bring more attention to suicide awareness. We feel very close to this cause for we lost our son-in-law Jim Beasley, Becky's husband, in a heart breaking tragedy of this nature a year before.

The walk began at 7 PM Saturday evening and lasted all night. Of the nearly 3,000 that assembled at the starting line all had a story to tell. They brought pictures to share and were dedicated to finishing the walk.

I was home with the grandchildren Sunday morning when the call came in. As I listened to all the experiences of the walk I was reminded of the many similarities it shared with a Christian's journey toward heaven.

Make The Decision To Go

You must have a strong desire, a cause and a goal. Other things will take second place and you will begin preparation immediately. When a Christian comes to understand the truth and is concerned about the path they now follow in error, it will affect the whole way they live. They will make the necessary changes and this abrupt and new direction will be the priority in their life.

Have A Destination In Mind

The participants knew it was 26 miles to the end. The territory was new to them as they had not been this way before. There were a variety of surfaces from sidewalks, streets and wooded paths, which were uneven and could cause you to lose your balance and fall. They used flashlights as it was dark. It is the same on our journey to heaven. Some days are smooth and some are pretty rough but we have an end in sight, one step at a time.

We Must Be Prepared

For the walkers it was months on foot sometimes walking hours each day to condition their bodies for the challenge ahead. They sought and received advice from the counselors on diet, clothing and equipment. A Christian must also prepare. No one will reach heaven without a through knowledge of why we are here and God's purpose for us. No one can do this for us. The walkers had to do their own walking and we must do our own study of His Word. I am continually amazed at those who sit through a 35 minute sermon once a week and think that is it. They have little or no Bible knowledge and think that if they occupy a pew that they will be going to heaven with the others sitting on it.

The Rules Must Be Obeyed

The ones in the walk had to do just that. There was to be no running, no bicycles and no short cuts. For those seeking a heavenly home the standard is the New Testament. "Searching it daily to see if those things were so" is the principal we live by. God is very particular with minute detail. One has only to read the Old Testament to see those that died instantly for what we might determine a minor offence. It is imperative that we know the rules. We will never get there by making up our own.

We Must Set A Good Example

As the walk continued through the night it became increasingly uncomfortable and yes, many did drop out. But the ones who made it to the end kept their smiling faces forward, a steady pace and always a positive response to the question, "How are you doing?" As a Christian we never know who is watching us. If we fall behind, complain, look for the easy way or not follow the Bible standard, then others will become discouraged.

Be An Encouragement To Others

This one, similar to number 5, deals with not only how we conduct ourselves but also how we relate to others. No one walked alone and no one would have wanted to. "Bump ahead, steep slope and low branch," was called out often by others just ahead. There were some areas that would not be recommended for a solo walker. There are many varieties of Christians from the very weak to the very strong. The world is not a safe place and "The Devil walks about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour." To be strong and to lend a helping hand or a word of encouragement to another person means more than we will ever know. No one will reach heaven alone.

Sustain With Regular Nourishment

One of the points made over and over at Washington, D. C. was what you should eat and what you should drink. They were very blunt in saying that if this advice was not heeded you could die! Dehydration can over take you before you know it. There were stations along the way to provide all these things. Those who by-passed to get ahead were foolish. There was no goal to finish first, just to finish. A brother or sister, in the Lord, must supply his or her own self with the water of life and feed from the word of God. Without that in an abundant supply we will suffer spiritual dehydration and often there are few symptoms until it is too late.

Expect Difficulties

There were many mishaps through the long hours of the night. There were sprains, muscle cramps, bruises from falls and lots of blisters. Many were bussed back to hospitals and facilities to care for their needs. Ambulances awaited emergences at each station and were used. If you think that becoming a Christian will solve all your problems you have been misled. Satan works harder to plague the Lord's people for he knows the others are his already. God allows this. In our trials that are overcome and never having lost faith, we give Him the glory. It is our privilege to serve Him this way. If it were easy to reach heaven all would go there. We are filled with joy and like Paul and Silas can sing hymns at midnight though in pain and in prison.

Don't Give Up

The walk was for 26 miles. Those who stopped at the end of 25 put forth a great deal of effort but it was short of the goal. Those determined to make it across the finish line were on their feet moving ahead. Many had tears in their eyes but smiles on their faces. Christians understand that this earth is not Paradise but a proving ground to test those who want to go there. But crossing that line at the end will make it all worthwhile. It will be costly. There are no short cuts, no coupons or free passes. But we have the peace that passes all understanding. Something the world does not know.

Follow The Right Guide

There was an incident right at the end of the walk. The leaders had taken a wrong turn by mistake. Then when it was discovered all had to retrace their steps and get back on the approved path. It was discouraging to see the wasted effort and the extra mile or so added to their journey at a time when they just did not know how they could take another step. Religious leaders misguide the world every day. No one will get to heaven in ignorance. Every Christian should study the roadmap for himself and then double check. Listen to what others are saying, read articles, then check the map again. We have all had the experience being in a car and unsure of the route, the driver will refuse to stop and ask directions. Many souls will be lost for all eternity traveling the broad road and thought they were going toward heaven because they did not consult the guide book. There will be no surprised people that make it to that home with the Lord. It will be the ones who planned, prepared and worked accordingly as God ordained.

It was a long night. Twelve and one-half hours after the start of the walk Tom and Becky crossed the finish line. They are our heroes. They saw the sun go down and the sun come up. "Out of the Darkness" was the motto for the group and on every tee shirt. They want to share their experience to help prevent others from becoming victims of this silent, untalked about tragedy. And isn't that what Christianity is all about? Out of the darkness of sin to walk in the light until we reach the end of that narrow way and go home to our final reward. Blessed are those who persevere to the end.

Millstadt, IL 62260
August 2002

Dody Gibson See other articles by Dody Gibson