Enjoying the Journey
He was only 39 years old when he died, but he looked much older. War will do that to a man. His death by human logic was unnecessary and untimely – he was accidentally shot by his own men. Yet Stonewall Jackson would see the providence of God in the details.
My travels this week have taken me to the area known as the most bloody region of the Civil War. Not far from where I write these words General Stonewall Jackson, and countless others, were shot at the Battle of Chancellorsville. Jackson’s left arm was amputated, but within eight days he had developed pneumonia.
Jackson was carried to a field hospital in Guinea Station, Virginia where he took his final breath in this world. I stood on the site this afternoon and thought of the closing moments of his life. Stonewall Jackson has long been one of my favorite characters to read about from the Civil War era. Maybe it is that he came from my home state. Perhaps it is his strong character or humble leadership that is so inspiring.
While there are things about him with which I would not agree, I do admire his commitment to state’s rights, his disciplined personal life, and most of all his genuine faith in God. Stonewall Jackson was a strong Christian man living in a hard time of our nation’s history.
Jackson always said he wanted to die on a Sunday. He got his wish. His closest advisors were shattered by the loss of their leader. On his deathbed Stonewall said to one of his men, “Captain, my religious belief teaches me to feel as safe in battle as in bed. God has fixed the time for my death. I do not concern myself about that, but to be always ready, no matter when it may overtake me. Captain, that is the way all men should live, and then all would be equally brave.” These were the words of a man prepared both to live and to die.
When his wife arrived he said to her, “I know you would gladly give your life for me, but I am perfectly resigned. Do not be sad. I hope I may yet recover. Pray for me, but always remember in your prayers to use the petition, Thy will be done…It will be infinite gain to be translated to Heaven…You have a kind and good father, but there is no one so kind and good as your Heavenly Father.” To the very end Jackson was a man who was both strong and gentle.
In the last moments of life a smile came across his face and he quietly said, “Let us cross over the river and rest beneath the shade of the trees.” And so he did.
Men live at different times in history but they all march toward eternity. Live every day for the last day – the day you meet God face to face. When you give your whole life to the Lord you do not have to fear the day you go to see Him. Stonewall Jackson’s favorite verse of Scripture is the story of every true child of God. It is a help for life and for death…
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”Romans 8:28