On the Corner
Brownie Johnson enters heaven
by Robert Docter, Editor-In-Chief –
True blue soldiers hear a distant bugle call from some far hill—its haunting sound calling through a dying dusk, its beauty floating on a warming wind into the darkening night—all is well—safely rest—God is nigh. They muster on the plain, faces aglow through night’s darkness, sharing joys and triumphs with brothers and sisters assembling for their march to Glory.
Gently, dawn hints of her promised arrival. Then, suddenly, morning defeats the darkness and breaks bright and clear.
The company commander readies a roll call of the righteous. The trumpets sound their unison fanfare as his adjutant steps forward to bring the troops to attention. The commander, his uniform radiant in the sunlight, speaks words of welcome with warm friendly tones that seem to echo from the hills.
“Your advocate, my Son, has spoken to me on your behalf. I have listened to his testimony. He speaks of the love and respect you have for me and of the loving care for others you have demonstrated in lives well lived. He finds you worthy.
“Soon, I will call you by your name, and you may answer as you choose. We will talk together, and then escorts familiar to you will show you the way home, for it is not a lonely trip.
Then, in a clear, firm voice he called: “Nels Johnson.”
“Hallelujah,” shouted a bright, youthful sounding man in the third rank from the front. “Nels Johnson is present,” he stated as he stepped out of line and marched quickly forward to stand before his commander. Saluting, he said: “Nels Johnson reporting for duty, sir.”
“Good to see you, Brownie,” God answered. ”How are things going with my Army on earth? After I heard that ‘Hallelujah’ with which you answered my call I knew immediately where you served, and that your Salvationism is still strong and vital. Tell me about the corps—are we still saving souls— are we still ministering to my people the poor?”
“Well…I’m sure you know my bride, Evy, right?”
“Oh yes. I know Evy. She’s quite a lovely bride and married to you for more than sixty years. I also know she is the love of your life.”
“Oh yes. She’s wonderful—and strong—and I know she loves me. Can you imagine that—someone like Evy loves me.”
“I love you, too, Brownie.”
He was still a moment as intense feeling washed over him and tears pooled in his eyes. “I know,” he said. “You must! Sometimes I feel so undeserving of that love, but I know you are always there—and I know you’ll be there for Evy now that I’m not there to help her with things.”
“Oh yes, Brownie,” God said. “I’m there for both of you even now.”
Brownie was quiet for a moment, staring into the eyes of God and seeing his love. He cleared his throat and wiped the tears and changed the subject. “You were asking about the poor. Evy and I have never been in the ‘big’ money, but everyone sure seems to like us. Also, I know we have a bunch of soldiers who feed the homeless from our traveling kitchen that Harry got organized—and my friends Pat and Dorothy help people every day in our social service office. Both of them are real soldiers, so there’s a lot more said than just handing out vouchers,” Brownie said.
“So how’s the corps going?” God asked.
“Well—we have terrific officers. Everyone seems to love them a lot. I don’t know how they do it. They don’t go around shouting orders, they just start working and before you know it a lot of people start working with them. Both of them are great preachers, and they really care about the people. I think it shows in our attendance and participation. We also have a great program for kids, and the music is first rate.”
God looked him square in the face. “Brownie, your comments reveal you fully, my son. You praise others and speak not at all of yourself. Your love for me and for those you serve is so genuine—so real that the depth of your touch speaks with the sounds of heavenly harps. For years you have shown yourself to be fully honest—to be authentic, one of my Son’s true followers. Love pours from your soul to be revealed in the sunshine of your smile; joy springs unblemished from the excitement in your eyes; cold hearts gain warmth from the warmth of your handshake. You make everyone feel important. Everyone through the door believes that you are happy to see them and greet them. You, Brownie Johnson, are my sergeant at the door, the most important responsibility at the entrance gates wherein I live.”
Brownie was quiet—almost speechless. Then God said: “I hope there are those in the corps who can take your place—as difficult as it may be.”
“Oh,” Brownie answered. “Never fear. We’ve got some younger fellows who seem to be able to make people feel right at home. They’ll be wonderful.”
God said: “See what I mean Brownie? They must have learned from you. Your escorts are here to show you your new assignment as my Sergeant at the Door. You will know them well. They are all exactly the people you and your friends would expect to have that responsibility.”
They walked away together—talking happily toward a large open door—Brownie’s new post.
All is well—safely rest —God is nigh!