Safe on that Far Shore

I recently heard of the passing of a dear friend. In my immediate sadness, I began thinking about the fact that she is now “safe on that far shore.” That euphemism is, of course, one of those comforting phrases we Christians have used since before I can remember. It expresses the belief that, one-day, we will “cross the Jordan” to be present with the Lord (another popular euphemism).

Betty’s death is a little different for me than many others whom I have known and lost. She was not elderly, nor even my age. She was, in fact, a part of a youth group I helped disciple during my early days in ministry. It was a formative season for many of us, and Betty’s distinguishable smile and dedication buoyed us during times that were not always the best and easiest. When her brother, Dave, “passed” at the age of twenty, she was a rock—and I mean that in the best possible sense.

“I was too inexperienced to realize…”

Coming from a stalwart Christian home, the depth of her spiritual maturity was incredibly well beyond her years. She had a steadiness that I will always admire. Looking back, it was a quality that I appreciate even more now than I did then (some forty years ago). At the time, I was too inexperienced to realize that people like her don’t come along all that often.

When we lose people such as her, we don’t like to say they’ve died. We use other terms—she’s asleep in the Lord; they’re in the sweet by-and-by; he’s in a better place. These are all little reminders of what Billy Graham once said about his own eventual demise. “I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address.”

One of my favorite singer/songwriters is a guy by the name of Steve Winwood. He once wrote a song that was, to a large extent, overlooked. It was one of those “deep cuts” on an album that contained other, more popular tunes. The composition was called “Other Shore.” The second verse and chorus said this:

On a new tomorrow cooling breeze shows a star
There can be so much sorrow, when you’ve traveled from afar
But there’s nothing that can harm you when the night’s closing in
In the bright lit heavens above us, you know we’ll meet there again

And sometimes the other shore is so far away
And that darker river’s edge is too far away
And across the waterline is far away

Right now, the distance between me and those who have already gone home seems incredibly remote. It’s a journey that I’m not all that excited to take, but one that is inevitable. I also know, deep in my heart, that it’s one worth taking.

Betty Schogren has joined the rest of her immediate family on that beautiful shore. I can’t even imagine what it must be like. All her trials are over.

You are deeply missed, young lady. Hope to see you soon.

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