Tag Archives: wayfaring stranger

Wayfaring Stranger

This month, as we have in previous years, my wife, Jeanine, and I are attempting to see all the movies that have been nominated for the best picture Oscar©.  Due to this challenge, we watched Sam Mendes’ World War I drama 1917, which depicts a harrowing day experienced by two British soldiers.   I cannot say, at this point, if I would vote for it as the best picture (we still have a few more films to see), but I will say that it has one of the most moving scenes I have watched on film in quite a while.  After facing the vast variety of experiences that comes with each life – from the beauty of cherry blossoms in bloom to the gruesome ravages of war – one of the film’s protagonists hears the haunting words of a Civil War folk song called “The Wayfaring Stranger”.

I am a poor wayfaring stranger

Travelling through this world of woe.

And there’s no sickness, no toil or danger

In that fair land to which I go.

I’m going there to meet my father,

I’m going there no more to roam;

I’m only going over Jordan,

I’m only going over home.

I know dark clouds will gather round me,

I know my way will be rough and steep;

But golden fields lie out before me

Where all the saints their vigils keep.

I’m going there to meet my mother,

I’m going there no more to roam;

I’m only going over Jordan,

I’m only going over home.

I thought about that song this week, as the news cycles repeatedly reminded us of the brokenness inherent within each life – young people whose lives were taken much too soon, others who were struck by a viral epidemic, and governmental leaders accused of high crimes and misdemeanors.  We are all traveling through this world of woe.  I wonder how many are facing the realities of sickness, toil and danger with the perspective referenced in this song from a previous generation.  Despite fifteen decades of advances in medicine, technology, education and civility, we are still “wayfaring strangers”.

Instead, they were longing for a better country – a heavenly one.  Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.  Hebrews 11:16 (NIV)

In those seasons of sorrow, be assured that there is a land – prepared for all who trust in the benevolence of God – that is devoid of sadness, filled with golden fields and occupied by those we love.  The physical world we see every day is not all that there is or all that God has provided for us; there is a home that is awaiting all those who are aware that it is just beyond our gaze.  There is a war still being waged all around us, despite the occasional glimpses of beauty.  There is also a place of peace with boundless splendor awaiting those who faithfully traverse the rugged terrain of earth.

As depicted in 1917, there are circumstances in life when we are faced with exhaustion and entertain thoughts of surrender.  In those moments, remember that Christ has prepared for us a home.