John Todd was born in the year 1800 in Rutland, Vermont. Sometime shortly thereafter, his family moved to Killingsworth. By the time he was 6 years old, both his parents had passed away. The family parceled out the children to care for them as best they could. John was to go to his aunt in North Killingsworth.
Thirty-five years later, while out on his own, he received a letter from the aunt who raised him. She let him know how sad she was to tell him she was near death and would leave this earth soon. She apologized that yet another parental figure would leave him prematurely. She regretted it had to be this way.
John wrote a letter in response to her — a letter she was able to read prior to her death. The letter was personal. It was also emotional, as he affirmed his deep affection for his mother figure.
I will paraphrase his letter below as best I can.
“I remember the day I waited for you to come all those years ago, alone, anxious and scared. You never came. Instead, you sent a man named Caesar to come for me. He brought a horse and put me on it. After all, it was 10 miles away.”
“It was dark, cold and very scary as the day turned to night. We had to cross through a lot of woods. Caesar tried to keep me calm and comforted. It worked.”
“I asked him if he thought you would go to bed before we arrived. I wanted to meet you as I got there. He assured me you would wait up for me. He said as we broke through the final forest area, we would see a candle in the window, alerting us you were up, still waiting.”
“Sure enough, as we came to the final clearing, we saw the candle in the window in the distance. Upon arriving, you greeted us outside and urged us inside. It was warm, and the fire in the fireplace was going strong. You had a hot meal for me, and then took me to a room. Yes, you not only had a comfortable home for me, you had prepared a room for me — my very own room.”
“In your home, you loved me and kept it a place where I felt safe, secure and peaceful. There was so much joy and love in the home you had for me.”
“By now you know why I’m sharing these things with you, reminding you of how you waited for me and cared for me when I arrived — how you loved me long before my arrival. Now, our Lord has me, comforting you with this letter.”
“None of us will endure this earth forever. Your time has come. That saddens me, as well. However, I find much comfort in knowing our Lord has prepared a place for you. Jesus said He has gone on ahead and prepared a place for you — an eternal home. I imagine it to be a home like the temporal one you had for me. I believe you’ll find comfort, peace and joy there — like I found in your home. Jesus loved you long before now, and He is ready for you to arrive.”
“Sure, the days might seem dark and scary for now. Don’t worry. He’s waiting for you, and eagerly anticipates your arrival.”
(Story is originally from Dr. Charles Allen’s book, “You Are Never Alone,” published in 1978; the scripture reference of Jesus, saying He has gone on and prepared a place for His people, is in the Bible, John 14:1-6).
Jeff Adams is pastor for Paramount Christian Church. His column appears weekly in the Nisqually Valley News. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.