McDowell Technical Community College

Tim’s Treasures

An Unforgettable Sunrise

By Timothy W. Tron

Burke County

“…whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. – James 4:14

We can no more know what will be in 20 years than we can know what tomorrow will bring; it is like being able to see what is not visible. We ourselves are like the mist, as scriptures tell us, “Whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” Will my body be capable of traversing what my mind’s eye can see? Will there be the breath of life left within my soul? All of these things and more cannot be answered, nor should they. Our faith should sustain us through all that is, and all that will be to come.

One may project themselves mentally into that point beyond their horizon, that which tells of a distant time and place which none can know. From that place, they may reflect back upon all that might have transpired. From such an appointed place we may see with more clarity what we should find of value; of meaning; of purpose. We can take away from our reflection in that distant horizon such  that, when our life’s journey has come to fruition, we all would like to say with assurance, “We have run the race well.”

To run that race well, there are a few moments which I hope to find, which many may find as their own: to see my children grow into adulthood, to see them become parents with successful careers; to hold that first grandchild in my arms; to see the end of a successful career of teaching; to see my wife and I gracefully grow old together; to see with mine own eyes, the bridge at Salbertrand; to see the sunrise from the top of the Chisone Valley as did those brave men on their march through the Glorious Return; and lastly, but not least of all, to lead others to Christ through the blessings God has bestowed upon me. These are but a few of all that I hope to find on that day, so far from now.

Yet, in the blink of an eye, it will be here.

Time is a precious commodity none of us can take for granted.

The bridge between now and the end of our time here on earth grows shorter with each passing day. We are aliens upon this earth, put here by our creator, and when we pass, we move on to the place He hath created for us; a home eternal. What we do with the time we have left is as much our choosing as is our choice of deciding if we want to live beyond this life, through the salvation Christ has given to all, should they choose.

When we stand on that future mountain top and look back, one should hope to see how they have lifted up others in their wake, being as Christ-like as possible. To become the light is all we should seek.

To get there from here, we must take one step at a time. Each new footprint, insignificant as each one may seem, leads us to the eventual destination if we can remain focused. In our hearts, we know the words, “Yeah though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me, thy rod and thy staff comfort me…” All around us, the dark peaks of struggle are pitched against us. The fog of doubt and uncertainty shroud our way. Yet, we push onward, one step at a time. We must not look back when the sorrows pull us down. We cannot relive what has gone on before us. We cannot return the dead to the living; we must push onward.

Closing my eyes, I drift off to that future time and place.

From that distant vantage point, my breath is labored. The height at which we have achieved to gain this point is substantial in altitude. The air is thin up here. In my mind, I’m standing upon the highland overlooking the Chisone Valley; the year is 1689. Darkness is before me, it is night. Behind me, I can hear men struggling up the side trying to reach the summit. We are nearest to Him on this imagined peak. What we left behind to obtain our position is a haunting reminder of how our lives have been shaped by perseverance. Like Arnaud, his men having fought past the bridge at Salbertrand, seeing the miracle of 600 men routing over 2,500, they are now the survivors of the ten days of forced march. They have avoided the main roads, taking the goat paths and cliff faces in their march. They have fought through one village after another. After this late day battle, they are now struggling through the night to reach the summit. Exhausted, they will fall asleep almost before their heads hit the ground. Arnaud stays awake well past what his body will allow making sure the few sentries he has posted remain awake. He doesn’t know I’m here, but together we watch as the coming dawn begins to lighten the eastern sky.

With trepidation, we await, as the sound of men scattered about us sleep in fitful slumber. The wounded moan as they turn to find comfort upon the hard ground; there is little to relieve their pain. The campfire is nearly gone, its embers glowing red, like the horizon that begins to hint of the coming day.

As the dawn broke before them on that glorious morning, the sunlight filtered into their homeland, those ancient valleys of granite and raging torrents. Their faith was at a zenith, they knew this was not the end. Before them lay the unknown. God had surely delivered them to this point for a reason. Yes, they had made it. Yet, the battle to reclaim their valleys had only begun. The dead that they had left behind, now almost half their number, cannot be forgotten; yet, they must not allow the darkness to consume their fate. Before them, the mountain falls away, revealing the Chisone. Some are eager to get down below; family homesteads occupied by the enemy burn in their minds. Liberation of their own farms begins to overwhelm them, but their leader, Pastor Arnaud, recognizes this inner strife and calms them once more with prayer.

Men, let us bow our heads, ..God, your hand has been upon us each and every step of the way. We thank you for all that you have given us to this day, but Lord, you know better than we, that if it is your will, this place which you hath prepared for us in the beginning, will once more be returned to us again. We ask for the forgiveness of our sins, for taking another man’s life is something we do not dismiss easily from our hearts, but at the same time, we ask that you forgive those that seek to destroy us. For all we do, we do in servitude in your Holy name. For we thank you, God the Father, and ask that you continue to watch over us as we go forth, so that we may be allowed to restore the faith, truth, and the light back to the valleys from whence we hath come. Thank you for your son Jesus Christ, who died, was buried, and rose on the third day. His blood was shed for our sins, so that we may have life eternal. In all these things, we thank you, in God’s Holy Name,…Amen.”

Painfully, Arnaud and his men arose and began the ascent into the dark valley of the Chisone below to reclaim their homeland. There, hiding in their own homes, churches, and villages, the enemy awaited.

Painfully, in that distant time, we will continue on in our ascent into that dark valley below where the enemy awaits; Satan. There, hiding in our own homes, churches, and villages, he awaits our every move.

We must do all that we can to bring them back to the faith of our ancestors, to bring them the salvation for which they were once freely given.

Each faces an uncertain future.

Each knows from whence they came.

Each knows that the going forward will not be easy. Time is against us all, no matter when we face it, but with our faith, we can find our way. We are not alone. “We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us,” and in that, we can face tomorrow.

We know not what tomorrow may bring, but with faith, we can face tomorrow.

In all that we do, let us serve Him, and to never forget,

Thanks be to God.