Heaven In The Now By Ace Collins

Day 1 of 6 • This day’s reading


Day 1

Turning From the Mirror (Wayfaring Stranger)

Luke 10:25-37 

When Jesus exposed the nature of prejudice in the parable of The Good Samaritan, He likely revealed a picture of God that many in His audience had never seen. Those of different races or tribes were usually considered to be lesser beings and not a part of the Lord’s plans. Not only was there no place for them in heaven, but they were not to mix with the chosen ones while on earth. To have Jesus hold up the Samaritan as reflecting God’s love, compassion, and grace must have been very sobering to many in that time and likely still is to this day. 

There is no record of who wrote “Wayfaring Stranger.” History proves it has been around for at least two and one-half centuries. It most assuredly originated in rural America. Some scholars have linked it to black spirituals while others have tied it to Native American stories, but no matter its origins, there can be no doubt of its intent. It was a song revealing a faith deeper than most could imagine, while offering a challenge few were willing to accept.

According to the dictionary, hopelessness means having no expectation of good or success coming your way. Almost every line of “Wayfaring Stranger” screams out that the only thing waiting around the next bend is more sorrow, sadness, loneliness, and rejection. And yet, even though the writer expects nothing but pain on earth, there is a sense of hope found at the end of each verse. The suffering will not last! There is a place of acceptance and healing.

Just as Christ did with the Parable of the Good Samaritan, “Wayfaring Stranger” offers a challenge for the living. For most who wander the earth despondent and alone, as well as for those who have been abused or abandoned, all hope is dashed. These souls don’t know the security of home or the promise found in faith. They have never felt a kind hand and rarely heard loving voices. So, the only way they will ever meet God is to experience the grace of one who has already been blessed. In other words, they need to encounter a modern good Samaritan.

Christ touched the lepers when no one else would. Jesus invited a tax collector to dinner when everyone else avoided him. Story after story proves that much of the Son of God’s ministry dealt with wayfaring strangers. He didn’t just offer them a ticket to heaven, through his acceptance and grace he brought a bit of heaven down to earth and, in the process, revealed how God expected all His children to treat each other. 

The person who penned “Wayfaring Stranger” has been experiencing the joys of heaven for a long time. Yet, whenever this song is sung, the writer revisits earth and offers both a prayer of hope as well as issuing a dynamic challenge. The prayer is that we each have the faith to endure the journey while maintaining our focus on God. The challenge is to love today’s wanderers just as Christ did during His walk on earth. Grace brings us to heaven and grace shared can bring heaven to wayfaring strangers.

Lord, teach us to be more like you, guide us to not spend so much time looking in the mirror that we forget to look out into the world and see those who are suffering. Help us, through your example, touch them and open a window to bring your grace, love and compassion down from heaven to earth.