If we could see beyond today
By the time we get to John chapter 11, Jesus had already turned water into wine, healed sick people, made the lame walk, miraculously fed thousands of hungry people, walked on water, and claimed to have existed before Abraham was born (2000 years earlier). But His disciples still did not realize who He really was, or the extent of His power, and His purpose for being with them. He had not come into the world to eliminate poverty, disease, hunger, etc.
When Jesus got to Bethany, Martha came out to meet Him. Lots of people had already come from nearby Jerusalem to comfort Mary and Martha in the loss of their brother. The funeral had already happened, and Lazarus had been in the tomb four days. I sense a big, “Why?” in Mary’s words. She said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
As Jesus stood at Lazarus’ grave, He wept. Why? He knew He was about to raise Lazarus from the dead. Maybe it was because of the overwhelming grief He felt for those who loved this man.
Yes, Jesus could have prevented this tragedy, but He chose not to. Instead, He took the opportunity to show all those people, and His own disciples that He had the power to overcome death. He called, “Lazarus, Come forth!” And he came out, bound hand and foot with grave clothes. Jesus said, “Loose him and let him go.”
Even this was not Jesus’ purpose in coming into this world. As you can imagine, this news spread like wildfire, and many people put their faith in Jesus. But this was just a prelude. Less than two weeks later He would hang on a cross, crying out, “It is finished!” In three days, He Himself would rise from the dead, accomplishing finally the goal of His life – to save His people from the consequences of their sin, and defeat death for them, and for all who believe in Him, forever.
Last Sunday at church, Jeff Jordan, who had worked on one of the vehicles involved in the tragedy on Cowee Mountain last week, said if he had known what was going to happen, he would have cut up the vehicle. That reminded me of a beautiful song recorded by Christine Wyrtzen entitled, “If We Could See Beyond Today.” Please listen to it on youtube, and cry as I did. Let this terrible event drive you closer to the One who also cried in grief before he raised Lazarus from the dead. Lazarus had to die again, but one day he will rise again and never, ever die.
“If we could see beyond today as God can see,
If all the clouds should roll away, the shadows flee;
O’re present griefs we would not fret,
Each sorrow we would soon forget,
For many joys are waiting yet
For you and me.
If we could know beyond today as God doth know,
Why dearest treasures pass away, and tears must flow.
We’d know that darkness leads to light,
And dreary days will soon grow bright;
Someday life’s wrongs will be made right,
Faith tells us so.
If we could see, if we could know, we often say,
But God in love a veil doth throw across our way;
We cannot see what lies before,
And so we cling to Him the more,
He leads us ‘til this life is o’re;
Trust and obey.”
Poem by Norm Clayton
Ed Hill — Franklin, N.C.
Old timers passed winter days with story-telling
Like most old timers, my grandfather, A. Wootson Cruse, was gifted with story-telling.
The stories of his wanderings through these mountains on trails and wagon roads were exciting. They could hold your attention for hours. But the ones of his encounters with panthers, bears and wolves were enough to make the hair stand up on your head.
Many were the cold winter night at Rainbow Springs that Grandpa’s “painter” tales sent us children to bed shaking with fright and jumping at our shadows. For a likeness as to how the old timers pulled through hardships long ago in these parts, here is a true story – as told to me by my grandfather.
It was midwinter here in the mountains. A heavy snow gripped the countryside, and freezing weather set life at a standstill. There wasn’t much for folks to do, but to cut firewood, to go hunting, or to sit by the fire.
As the story goes, a man, his wife, and baby (whose names have been forgotten) lived in a mountain cove in their one-room log house.
One evening, the man and some other fellow were “a-fixin’” to go ’coon hunting. Said they wouldn’t be gone long.
Since it was a “fur piece” to the next house and most folks were “a-skeered” after dark, the man brought in nightly supplies. He “toted” water from the spring, big armloads of wood from the chopping block, and “taters” from the root cellar.
After telling his wife to bar the door behind him and not to leave the house for anything, the man and the others left, taking with them the dogs and the rifles.
That night, while the woman was sitting by the fire with her baby, suddenly she heard a terrifying scream coming from the mountainside.
Being a mountain woman, she recognized at once that the scream was that of a panther. (Grandpa described the scream of a panther as being very much like the scream of a woman in extreme fright.)
Like Grandpa said, in those days, expecially if the winters were unusually cold, wild animals would move about in search of food. Many times hunger drove them into settlements where they attacked horses, cattle, sheep and hogs – and oftentimes, people. Some even said that a panter didn’t necessarily have to be hungry to kill people.
Again and again, the panther screamed. Since the screams were about five to 10 minutes apart and were louder each time, the woman knew that the panther was coming closer and closer to the house.
Terrified as she was, the woman made ready for the oncoming beast. The door, already barred, and the two windows (which were no more than tiny doors) were also barred.
Having heard that panthers would sometimes climb down a chimney to gain entrance, the woman heaped more wood on the fire, hoping that the heat and leaping flames would turn the animal. She also began to burn gunpowder, which was known to frighten and scare away vicious animals.
After doing what she could, there was nothing to do then but wait.
As she sat, alert to every sound, there was a long period of quietness. The only sound was the crackling and sputtering of the fire. Was the panther gone, or was he concealing his whereabouts, and softly creeping closer?
And then, just like at the first, there was a loud scream just outside the door. The woman knew that the attack was for certain. Claws and sharp teeth were coming after her.
First, the panther charged the door, growling and clawing, trying to get in but the barred door turned its force.
Next, it roared around the house, still trying to break in, and then violently, it leaped upon the roof with more howling and scratching. But the thick board shingles withstood its fury.
Still in a rage, it jumped off the roof and crawled under the floor.
With its paws, head and shoulders, it began to press upward against the flooring of the house, which had only one layer of wide boards with cracks between.
At last, it found a weakened board near the fireplace and it began to pry at the crack, trying to wedge it open. Through the crack the woman could see its yellow-green eyes in the darkness, glowing from the light of the fire. They looked like two huge fire coals. They were frightful.
Having nothing to defend herself with, the woman huddled by the roaring fire. The boiling pot on the fire suddenly gave her a notion.
Quickly, and just in the nick of time, while the panther was squeezing its head through the loosened board, the woman grabbed the pot of scalding water and poured it into the panther’s face.
Then, screaming with pain and defeat, it scrambled backward from under the floor. Moaning and groaning, it went out of hearing.
Soon thereafter, the men returned and that night faded into time. The story has since been told near and far.
Sad to say, some of the greatest stories that have ever been told around the fireside have been lost with the passing of the old timers.
Floyd Cruse — Franklin, N.C.
Somebody should have known what was going on
Recently I wrote an article, sent it to Letters to the Editor, you didn’t publish it and you were right not to. It was wrong, I was blowing off steam, and it was wrong on my part.
But what just happened to all of us in Macon County is a disgrace. Mission pulled off a slick deal on all of us.
I ask, where was all our politicians during this actions? You can’t tell this guy somebody didn’t know what was going on. The hardship Mission has placed on the young residents of our community is the lousy deal, all their promises were hot air.
You leaders of our community failed us, the residents of this community. Maybe it’s time to wake up and do your jobs.
William Trapani — Franklin, N.C.