Beyond The Sunset

April 16, 2006
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Luke 24:1-6 – On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, "Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!" (NIV)

Years ago, I was appointed by the Board of World Mission of The Presbyterian Church in Canada to the Peace River country in northern British Columbia, Canada. I had to learn to preach in a hurry, but my greatest joy was visiting and meeting the pioneers who had settled there. They all had amazing stories to tell of great adventure and faith in a new opportunity, a new life.

One day, I walked in yet another front door to meet an extraordinary lady. During the visit, I was asked to play her piano. The gospel song, "Beyond the Sunset", was open and ready. It was her late husband's favourite song:

    Beyond the sunset, O blissful morning,
    When with our Saviour heaven is begun;
    Earth's toiling ended, O glorious dawning,
    Beyond the sunset, when day is done.

      Virgil P. Brock and Blanche Kerr Brock
      ©1936. Renewed 1964 Word Music

After playing the tune, I turned around and was startled to find my new friend in tears! She had never heard it played that way before, and she told me this amazing story. Years earlier, they had come out west in a covered wagon, crossing mountain range after mountain range, through valley after valley, over corduroy roads (made from logs), bringing all their belongings, including the piano! It was a heavy load for the horses to pull, log after log. The logs would sink into the mud from the weight, making the climb almost unmanageable, so at the base of each mountain, they stopped to unload all the boxes and personal belongings, leaving just the piano to drag to the top. Then, leaving the piano at the top, they went back down again to pick up the rest — many, many times. What a load, and what a treasured piano!

Beyond the sunset of all our struggles is a land of new hope, new opportunity — a peaceful land where the new morning finds the grave empty and new horizons stretching out across the vistas of a new life. The mountains and valleys of doubt and struggle are conquered; that heavy stone shutting away all hopes has been removed. Jesus is risen!

His gravestone would be rolled into place down a sloping track, which made it easy to place the stone across the tomb entrance, but there was no way some women would be able to roll it back up out of the way. Only love took them there early before daybreak. It is the same with us: empowered by trust and love for Jesus, we go up and down the mountains and valleys of life, expecting the heavy stones in our way to be removed, even the stone of death itself! See! It's gone — and a wonderful sunrise, a glorious morning of new life, and new opportunities are ahead. Peace! Jesus is here carrying the heavy load.

Prayer: We are awed, Lord, by the faith of those women on that first Easter morning. Would we have gone and trusted so? We tend to doubt our strength, but with You carrying our burdens, we reach for each glorious new day. Lost opportunities are forgotten. Forgiven and strengthened, nothing is stopping us from achieving Your purpose in our lives. Empowered by the resurrection, we awaken each day to live with You, until our toiling is ended, and we see what lies beyond the sunset of our lives: a glorious dawning — heaven begins. Glory be to You, for You have given us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! Amen.

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Iris Ford

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