“Where I’m Going”

“It’s okay; I know where I’m going.” I’ve heard my brother speaking this in my heart for the past month. More than any other, that sentence sums up my brother’s life of faith. With all the panic, craziness, misinformation, and mischief going on in this world over the past month, it’s easy to understand how many have a sense of uneasiness about things. Paul’s words have become a clarion call in my journey of faith.

I watched my 6’5” little brother put his faith into action in how he lived. Born with epilepsy, complications from grand mal seizures left my brother Paul legally blind, but not helpless. He learned to rely on his other senses like touch and smell to adapt his life. In our teens when we became family; to him, it was as though we had spent our entire life together. As brothers do, we teased, laughed, fought, learned, and cried together. Without question, my brother Paul was my best friend.

To my knowledge, there were only two people who could help my little brother through an epileptic seizure; my dad and me. I’d watched our dad grab Paul and hold him close several times when Paul would mention “the pretty rainbow” or ask about “the colors.” Those were his triggers that a major seizure was about to overtake him. Holding him and speaking to him in a calm, steady voice prevented him from having convulsions and thrashing around. Somewhere in the process, he almost always lost consciousness.

My brother had surrendered his life to Christ before my adoption into the family. Watching him struggle to work out his faith (as the apostle Paul described it) was a wonderful example for me. I’ll always treasure how my brother never gave up praying for me. Even after turning my back on my faith, every time I talked with him, he would tell me he was praying for me. He would add that he just knew God, and I would get it all worked out one day. I’m so glad he believed in me; as sometimes I didn’t even believe in myself.

I remember two sayings that showed his faith. One showed his security in his salvation. “It’s okay; I know where I’m going” was his reply whenever we spoke about fears and worries. He wasn’t afraid of what tomorrow might bring, as he knew this world had long ago stopped being his home. Philippians 1:21 was one of my brother’s favorite verses. “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (NKJV) I remember driving him home from our service station one night and he asked me to pull over in Nye Jordan Park to ask me something.

I did; and he told me he had heard this verse, but he didn’t understand what it meant. With my minimal understanding of God’s word, I did my best to explain it to him. “As I understand what the apostle Paul was telling the Philippians, it was how they should try to live as Christians. If they followed Christ’s example and lived as He did, then when their human life ended, they’d be found to be in Christ, and would therefore gain entry into heaven.”

Paul asked, “So this means that because I am saved, I will go to heaven?”

I answered, “I think so ‘Stretch’ because if we are saved we won’t want to do the things of this world, but will want to be like Christ.” After a moment, I added, “People who say they’re saved but still enjoy sinning; I don’t think Christ is in them.”

“So then I’m not going to heaven?” I asked why he thought that, and he exclaimed, with a pained look on his face, “But I still sin, so that means I’m not going to heaven.”

Then, I explained how we all sin, and we all fall short of the standard of being sinless that Christ sat when He was human. I asked my brother if he felt bad after he sinned and did he ask God to forgive him for it. “We’re not supposed to sin, even though we do.”

“Exactly buddy!”; I explained that if we feel guilty when we do something wrong, it’s a sign that Christ is in us, and we are in Christ. I added, “It’s when we commit sin and we don’t feel guilty we have to worry.” That satisfied him, and soon afterward he adopted that saying.

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The other saying, one that always made me laugh, was “When we get to heaven, there will be lots of charred folks up there.” He would add, “I sure don’t want to be one of those who smell like they lived in a smokehouse. They’re gonna be all charred and have nothing left to place at Christ’s feet.” He was referring to 1 Corinthians 3:12-15. Before that, I had never considered how it might feel to stand before our King empty handed. “Stretch” understood that it’s not what we do that matters, but why we do it. My brother understood how only what we did for God’s glory, and not our own, would matter to God. All else—vanity, pride, arrogance, selfishness, self-serving—is worthless to God.

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Perhaps that’s why Mom taught us to do everything with a joyful heart and to always ask ourselves why we were doing something. Were we doing it to serve another or ourselves? What a great question to learn to ask.

With all the fear, worry, and strife in this world I pray you too heed my little brother’s words, reminding yourself “It’s okay; I know where I’m going.” I pray you’re certain.

God’s blessings,

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40 thoughts on ““Where I’m Going”

  1. JD- a timely post in this current crisis. While we experience many losses of convenience, face to face contacts, and personal delights, we are finding Christ is our hope and He is the stability for our times. Thanks for a good read and sharing your life.

    1. Thank you so much Ms. Marilyn. There are so many folks worried sick about what’s going on; and sadly many of them are Christians. I hope this post helps to remind us where, and in whomm our faith and hope lays.

    1. Awww… Thank you Ms. Nancy. My brother Paul was a wonderful blessing in my life. Whenever times would get tough and I struggled with things, I would remind myself that whatever I was struggling with was nothing compared to what my little brother faced every day. His faith, perseverance, and gentle guidance sat an example I hope to one day be able to model my life after. God’s blessings ma’am; and thank you so much for joining us in the conversation.

  2. Thanks for Paul’s challenge to us all! Yes, indeed I know where I am going. Here’s the lyrics to a hymn that helps remind me if I ever doubt.

    More Secure Is No One Ever
    by Lina Sandell Berg

    (1) More secure is no one ever
    than the loved ones of the Savior —
    Not yon star on high abiding
    Nor the bird in home-nest hiding.

    (3) Neither life nor death can ever
    From the Lord His children sever,
    For His love and deep compassion
    Comforts them in tribulation.

  3. I LOVE this line: “When we get to heaven, there will be lots of charred folks up there.” He would add, “I sure don’t want to be one of those who smell like they lived in a smokehouse. They’re gonna be all charred and have nothing left to place at Christ’s feet.” He has a lot of wisdom. It must run in the family.

    1. Amen Ms. Stephanie. I’m certain “Stretch” (our nickname for my “little” brother) is smiling down from heaven as he’s looking over my shoulder and reading your comments ma’am. I don’t know that he can actually do that, yet I believe he and our loved ones have some awareness of us, but I like to picture him punching God in the arm and saying “Hey Lord. Did you see what J.D. just did? He’s my brother ya know.” 🙂 I pray we all bring lots of treasures that will withstand the Bema Seat ma’am. God’s blessings.

  4. What a wonderful, peace giving, heart felt experience from your life to bless us with on this first day of April. Thanks JD for the reassurance this will bring to whoever reads it.

    1. Thank you Mr. Monty. I think we each have a lifetime of experiences that God can draw on to help us share the lessons He wants us to give the world in His name. I’m so glad I’m on this journey with you sir. God’s blessings.

  5. You touched a nerve, JD. I read this in my own devotions this morning as well. Especially during this weird time of social distancing and being home bound from all the good things at church, is what I am doing for God’s glory (as Christ always did), or for my self, to get praise and kudos. Wow. Time to go back and examine my motives. Oh, Lord Jesus, make them pure! Make me pure in thought, word, and deed!

    1. Ms. Jackie; I can’t imagine your doing anything out of selfish ambition my friend, but am grateful that you pointed out this is something we must all guard against in our lives. I think that’s why mama always tried to stress that to us children. Thank you so much for commenting and sharing ma’am.

  6. What a wonderful family God gifted to you and in return, you, my friend, were given the opportunity to share much love. Your message, as always, touches both heart and mind. You’ve reminded us that our intentions matter. God looks at the entire aspect of our actions, both the what and the why. He also knows our hearts–things we don’t share with anyone else. You’ve given us much opportunity for self-reflection. May God continue to bless you and your ministry to His service.

    1. OhMyGoodness I love this phrase Ms. Katherine, “… our heart-things.” To know how God knows are most intimate desires, needs, fears, and dreams. To know He holds them carefully with His immeasurable love. It’s as though He treasures them because He treasures His children. What a beautiful mind picture you created with your words ma’am. Thank you for that rich blessing.

  7. Knowing where I’m going definitely gives me calm. While I would hate to die young and miss so much of my children’s lives, this life is nothing in comparison to what’s on the other side. I think many hold on to this life too firmly. They are residents of the earth rather than citizens of heaven. And yes, I am certain and pray and teach so others can be certain too. Great post J.D.

    1. I hear ya Ms. Cathy. I too would miss my loved ones, friends, children, heck even my animals, but I would trade all that God has blessed me with to be with Him for eternity and never look back. Perhaps that’s why it’s so important to me to want to ensure all I love are prepared to come with me.

  8. I am inspired by your brother’s faith. There are six blind people (three couples) at one of our churches, and I admire how much they do! I try very hard to not worry, overthink, and think too much about tomorrow. Sometimes, it’s still a process of trying to do the best I can on a certain day.

    1. Awww… shucks Ms. Robin. Appreciate your comments ma’am. I think that’s why God’s Word tells us in Matthew 6:34 “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” I can only speak for myself, but I make enough problems for myself each day, and I just let tomorrow take care of itself. Like the words of a much beloved song from years ago, “…. One day at a time, Sweet Jesus, that’s all I’m asking from You…” Trust me; it’s much better that I type it than sing it. 😀 God’s blessings young lady.

  9. What a beautiful and precious relationship you had with your brother. The lessons you learned from each other will last for eternity.
    The statement made about the charred folks in heaven hits home with me. I know so many people that will have many things to laid at Jesus’ feet. Makes me feel so guilty, fearing I’ll have very few I can give him, and that I don’t try hard enough for him.
    Guilt of sin and lack works is where Satan wants us to be. Spiritual warfare is a constant for each Christian that follows Jesus.
    Our hope in Christ and his unfailing love strengthens us each day. When we confess, he forgives, giving us renewed peace, hope, and endurance to run the race. PRAISE GOD!
    Thanks for sharing, my friend. I needed this today.

    1. Thank you Ms. Cherie. Stopping to take a look at ourselves and asking God to reveal to us our true motives in things from time to time is something I think we all need to do. Especially me ma’am. Thanks so much for your wonderful comments ma’am.

    1. My buddy Paul was something special indeed Ms. Candyce. I can’t wait to see him again in heaven’s glory my friend. I just know he’s going to give me a big ‘ol bear hug and call me “Bonehead.” I’ll be the one with the big smile. 🙂 God’s blessings ma’am.

  10. J.D. Yes, I know where I’m going!

    Such a sweet and moving story about your brother. Love these thoughts: “it’s not what we do that matters, but why we do it…only what we did for God’s glory, and not our own, would matter to God. All else—vanity, pride, arrogance, selfishness, self-serving—is worthless to God.”

    1. Mama sure taught us some important lessons Ms Karen. Looks like you’ve learned a few too young lady. Thank you so much for your kind comments. Am so pleased you enjoyed and commented.

  11. I enjoyed learning more about your brother, J.D. It sounds as if you learned wisdom from your family which you now share with others. This is such a timely post.

    1. Our Mom taught us many faith lessons through the years Ms. LuAnn. What I remember most was how she always made time to read the Bible and she was a faithful prayer warrior for our family. Much as I suspect you are for your clan ma’am.

  12. ‘“Stretch” understood that it’s not what we do that matters, but why we do it. ‘ I have been wrestling with this idea recently… if someone repeatedly apologizes for the same behavior but doesn’t change the behavior, then does the apology count? It sounds like you and your brother explained it. The apology depends on the stance of your heart. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Great thoughts Ms. Kelly. I think that’s something we all struggle with from time to time. I’m reminded of what the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 7:15 quite often. Especially when I find myself doing the same sinful thing I keep asking God’s forgiveness for. Am learning, that while I might ask (and receive) forgiveness, I must also ask for His help to overcome it in my life, which is why Philippians 4:13 is my primary life verse. God’s blessings sweet friend.

  13. Concerning “good works”, “it’s not what we do that matters, it’s why we do it.” So true! There are many people who believe God to be a god of “keeping score”. Once He has forgiven our sins, past-present-future, the scorecard is torn UP and thrown out! As for heavenly reward, only those things done in love, for His glory, will remain. Wish I could have known your bro; sounds like he was a joy to know and love. Blessings!

    1. You are so right Ms. Gena. It’s not about “Keeping Score” but “Keeping Faith.” The true motivation behind what we do matters ma’am. Like my brother, I know my salvation is secure; and while I don’t try to keep score, I do pray that God helps me to do the things that have eternal value and not worldly value with my life. Otherwise, I’m going to feel I’ve wasted a wonderful gift. God’s blessings sweet lady.

    1. My brother Paul certainly had a way about him that made folks laugh. I think it was all the joy stored up inside him. I still see him in my mind’s eye today. When he would deliver a zinger, he would give us a big toothy grin, wring his hands together quickly, and then throw his head back and fill the room with laughter. You couldn’t help but join in.

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