Farther Along

When I was little – back in the days before “arthritis” became a swear word in our house – my Mama played guitar. I have to tell you that some of the best memories I have are times that I sat and listened to my Mama play. Sometimes, it would be on the front porch during rainstorms. Sometimes, it would be in the den on lazy Saturday afternoons. Sometimes, it would be at the church, practicing a special piece to be played during a church service. But always, always, always, Mama would start by tuning her guitar. (She tuned by ear. Never learned how to use a fancy electronic tuner.) And as soon as she had her old Martin twelve-string in tune, she would always, always, always begin to play the same song.

Farther Along.

Now, for y’all who didn’t grow up hearin’ Southern Gospel music, “Farther Along” is an old Stamps-Baxter Music tune that was sung by folks like Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley. Though, more recently, I’ve heard a real decent remake by Brad Paisley. And the chorus – which I don’t believe I’ll ever forget – goes like this: Farther along we’ll know all about it/Farther along we’ll understand why/Cheer up my brother, live in the sunshine/We’ll understand it all by and by.

I wish I’d really understood the words to that when I was coming along. I must’ve sung it a couple hundred times when I was younger… between being molested by the babysitter… between abusive relationships… between suffering panic attacks and clinical depression… before and after I wanted to choke down handfuls of pills to end my life. I didn’t understand any of those things. I only understood that I was in pain, in the dark, and I didn’t know why.

It’s been almost thirty years since I walked into the darkness for the first time. We can call it “the wilderness.” And I’m finally starting to understand. I’m getting glimpses of the sunshine.

Bob Sorge says, “God is presently taking many of his servants through great personal distress, referred to in scripture (among many other metaphors) as the spiritual ‘wilderness.’ God has a very clear purpose in mind. When the wilderness has completed its work in us, we will be broken, humble, weepy, and soft—with a new fire kindled in our eyes! It will be a fiery love for the One who led us through the wilderness, our beloved Lord and Bridegroom, Jesus Christ.”

I remember one night when I was eight years old, lying in bed after an episode of abuse at the hands of a neighbor. I didn’t understand what was being done to me—only that it was very wrong and that I didn’t know how to stop it. But that night, lying awake, alone, struggling to understand, I had a brief realization that one day, I would understand why. That there would be a reason and a purpose.

Funny, isn’t it? That decades later, I remember that thought? Even as I’m finally beginning to understand why and see the purpose.

My favorite line of the song?

Cheer up, my brother! Live in the sunshine! We’ll understand it all by and by.

**This post is part of a weekly book discussion that we are having on the book “The Fire of Delayed Answers” by Bob Sorge. You don’t have to take read the book to stay and chat. But if you have written a response to this week’s chapter, hop on over to my friend and co-facilitator, Jason Stasyszen’s place and link it up at the friendly link widget.**

About Sarah Salter

Comments

  1. I loved that song to Sarah.. My mama would sing it while cleaning the house.. Along with a bunch of other ones.. I’m not familiar with Bob Sorge, but I too believe God is taking us through something.. Thanks again for sharing..Luv ya Sista.

  2. Sarah Salter says:

    Love you, too, Barbara!

  3. Have to admit I don’t know the song, but it sounds good to me. I definitely find myself resisting the idea of everything making sense in the “by and by” but it is at least partially true. Some things God gives us insight into now and other things we just endure and trust Him and we’ll understand it later. My brain wants it all sorted out now, but the more I fixate on trying to understand, the more I wander from God’s heart and comfort. It’s not worth it. Good stuff, my friend! Thanks Sarah.

  4. Sometimes I wonder why I must suffer,
    Go in the rain, the cold, and the snow,
    When there are many living in comfort,

    Tempted and tried, how often we question
    Why we must suffer year after year,
    Being accused by those of our loved ones,
    E’en though we’ve walked in God’s holy fear.

    Farther along we’ll know more about it,
    Farther along we’ll understand why;
    Cheer up, my brother, live in the sunshine,
    We’ll understand it all by and by.

    // ———————————————————–//
    We may not know or understand the exact purpose of the wilderness we find ourselves traversing, but we can find rest and strength in knowing the one who holds that purpose. And knowing Him, we realize He did not just send us into that wilderness, He walks beside us each step of the way. We can trust and depend upon Him. We can live in His sunshine.

  5. Sarah, I did not know that song till I was 35 when I got saved. As I begin to grow I had to deal with the abuse from my growing up years through God’s word and not my own mind. I remember going to a church when I was little with my friends and asking prayer for my Dad that all the hell would stop. It didn’t stop so it was an eye opener to realize God knew what kind of home I was born into and it was not His fault all the hurt I suffered. Just learning about Him, man and sin and the results of the sin in the garden was the reason for the abuse helped me. Learning the deep meaning of, For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God…that I was included in the “all” along with my Dad and all those who hurt others was an eye opener. Next came the lesson for forgiveness…it was a huge one, yet God’s word taught me as long as I was not forgiving I was in slaved to my dad or anyone I would not forgive. So because God who loved me unconditionally said it then He must have something big in store for me if I obey. It was then I begin to taste a freedom that I can only call a little touch of heaven. It was when I begin to live in the sunshine and with freedom racing in my life I would gain more understanding. God did not cause my abuse, sin did, God did not cause my un-forgiveness, my own sinful nature did. My goodness what renewing our minds will do is beyond any drug created my man can do. I felt you pain my sister. Little did I know that forgiveness would be put to the test years later when we chose to take care of my dad whose mind was destroyed from alcohol and a stroke in to take care of him. Then the real truth of the deeper things God wanted to teach me begin to be set in my heart. God so loved the world (Betty , my Dad and all the world) and God wanted my Dad to know Him too. And He chose that I and my husband would be the ones to show Him Jesus. Did my Dad deserve it, not in my mind but God loved him too. Long story made a little shorter. My husband led my Dad to the LOrd the night before He died. God who loved Him did a super natural act of mercy and cleared my Dad mind up for a few minutes so Ace could lead him to tell again about Jesus, my Dad not know he would die the next day put his trust for salvation in Christ. Life the thief on the cross Dad when to be with God. He did not have time here on earth to show what Christ could do in his life. But what it did for me is give me a deep understanding of what forgiveness can do when we practice it. Now I know I will see my dad in heaven and the memories I shared with you will not be there. Here on earth they are only a scar that God desires to use to help others. Your post has stirred my heart once again to reach other to others and tell the sweet sweet story of forgiveness. The words of the song are true, there is understanding later on, we can live in the SONSHINE. I am about four chapters into Sorge book along with a couple of others that I am reading for bible studies. I love reading what his book is bringing out of all of you who are farther along. I mean that literally…Thanks

  6. Sarah Salter says:

    Jason, you have a good point there – “The more I fixate on trying to understand, the more I wander from God’s heart and comfort.” But only by God’s grace can I NOT fixate.

  7. Sarah Salter says:

    Yep. That end part there, Dusty, that’s exactly why I tweeted you earlier that *you* could’ve written this post. Probably more capably than I did. I’d forgotten that I don’t walk alone…

  8. Sarah Salter says:

    Betty, what a powerful testimony! Thank you for sharing! I’d always thought I’d forgiven my abusers, and then last year, I had this realization that maybe they would have met Jesus and would be in Heaven with me. And what I saw in myself was that I hadn’t forgiven quite as much as I’d thought. Thank God that HE forgives and that HE is strong enough to also enable us to forgive.

  9. Thanks for being so open about the wilderness God is bringing you through (and has already brought you through).
    We each have challenges. None of us are immune. Yet so often we are blinded by our pain and can’t see the work God is doing in us and through us.
    Yesterday I did a great Bible Study from a friend of mine, http://barbraveling.com/2013/01/08/bible-study-when-god-doesnt-change-you-instantly-2/
    It really helped me with my current delayed answers. I’m trying to rush God and avoid some of the work/pain.
    You might check this out. It’s a great blog.

    I remember singing that song. I miss some of those old hymns. When my dad was sick, I found myself being comforted by them. I would sing them as I paced the hospital floors and I found comfort in their wisdom and familiarity.

  10. Sarah Salter says:

    Thanks for sharing, TC! I always appreciate good resources – including other blogs! :-)

  11. Sarah, you just bless me with your honest and sincere writing…..you shine through. You have been through many things, but God has done a work in you, a work of beauty that others can readily see. Sorry for jumping in because I have not read this book but I just felt I had to comment. I hope your week is going well….

  12. Sarah Salter says:

    Now, Lori, the rules are that you DON’T have to read the book to jump into the chat. Your comments are welcome ANYTIME!

    Thank you for your kind words, Lori. I have to be honest enough to say that I *don’t* show the whole picture here. Many times, I’m going through dark times, and never say a word about it here. But once I get enough of a handle on it that I think that it might help someone else, then I don’t really mind telling it. Someone else may as well learn from my mistakes or trials, right? But thank you for the encouragement. It’s nice to have my words and effort appreciated. :-)

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