“I feel like traveling on, I feel like traveling on,” the group heartily sang several verses of the song at the assisted living home tonight before sitting down rather breathlessly. They had gone through, “My heavenly home is bright and fair, I feel like traveling on, No pain nor death shall enter there, I feel like traveling on,” then, “It’s glittering towers the sun outshine, I feel like traveling on,” and “That heavenly mansion shall be mine, I feel like traveling on.” We were there for our regular monthly ministry service: Howard, my husband, son Greg, myself and another member, Sarah, who played one of the guitars. Howard had been interspersing his remarks by spontaneously breaking into first one song and then another.
His topic had been that God reaches down and rescues people, saves and restores them, no matter how far they may have been from God. He told of a man who owned a bar whom God had saved, and the man had immediately returned to his tavern and put up a sign reading, “Closed Forever. Gone to Serve Jesus.” One story led to another, and after a few more songs, he began to close with a true story he had heard about a man who had decided to give up on God.
It seems the man was a devout Christian and a wealthy farmer whose daughter had fallen in love with a ne’er-do-well and had announced plans to marry him. Her father had tried everything to dissuade her, seeing only a life of disappointment in store for his daughter. Furthermore, he abhorred the thought that this character might someday inherit his farm. The girl married him anyway, despite the father’s fervent prayers and pleadings to God that the marriage wouldn’t take place. In a fit of anger and rage against God for allowing this to happen, the farmer made up his mind to abandon his faith. To add to his resolve, he was making a statement by ending the relationship at the place it had begun, at the altar in church.
When he got to the church and approached the altar for his act of formal apostasy, thoughts of God’s blessings to his family over the years came back to him, and he thought he would give God a final “thank you” in a decent show of respect. As he knelt at the altar, he began to list all the positive things that had happened to them. The children had been healthy, the crops had been good, many breaks had come their way, farm equipment was paid off, they had new vehicles, and on and on. Finally, as tears came down his cheeks, he said, “God, I just can’t quit on you. Forgive me, God, for holding this grudge against my son-in-law. You’ve been so good to me.”
Just then Greg interrupted his father, “Dad, we missed a verse awhile ago. There is one more verse." He and Sarah began to sing, “The Lord has been so good to me, I feel like traveling on, Until that blessed home I see, I feel like traveling on.” It was a fitting end to the service.