I was by myself with the windows down in Big Bend National Park. Mine was the only car on the highway, meandering through painfully beautiful landscapes and listening to a playlist I created for just such quintessential Texas moments. With the red granite cliffs of the Chisos Mountains to the left of me and the desert to the right and in front of me, the imposing landscape begged to be complemented with loud music from the masters of Texas songwriting: Waylon Jennings, Jerry Jeff Walker, George Strait, Robert Earl Keen and Patsy Cline. 20 miles from my destination at Santa Elena Canyon, one of my all time favorite country songs came on by Toby Kieth and Willie Nelson. As Toby, Willie and I crooned together, a familiar joy surfaced as I belted out the chorus, describing how a hard day's work of fighting bad guys deserves a good stiff drink at the end of the day in celebration. I thought "What about this song stirs me? God? Help me out with this one."
"Justice. And then peace." I heard.
I try to get away with God alone at least once a year (wife and time permitting). So here I was on this road trip and my first order of business was to invite him into our time together. "Come Father, however you want to come. I want you. I want truth. However you choose to come doesn't matter to me. Just be here with me. This is our time together... you and me... father and son." Well, He came, like He always does, but only after I wrestled a lot with the fear He wouldn't. (But like I said, He always comes). He was intimate and strong and true. He spoke into some very deep places, faithful in his perfect and lifelong pursuit of my most precious asset, my heart. I could easily go into all that. However, this is about the song.
Now the "Justice, and then peace" that I heard was surprising, but not out of the blue. As I sang I realized the parallels between the lyrics and what my faith in the eternal God had led me to look forward to some day in the future: an end to all evils, the source of evil finally obliterated, and a celebration that involves lively music and adult beverages (consumed responsibly, of course).
Rev. 19:11 I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean.
Rev. 19:19 Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to wage war against the rider on the horse and his army. 20 But the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who had performed the signs on its behalf... The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. 21The rest were killed with the sword coming out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh.
Rev. 19:9 Then the angel said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”
Scripture's purdy dang clear about the Judge, his posse and the fact that we're all going to round up the bad guys on horseback. I have my doubts about whether beer and whiskey will be served at the bar, but I would be willing to bet a large fortune that wine will abound from the generous and extravagant heart of God at that Wedding Supper. He may even make a little too much. (That was over 900 bottles Jesus made at Cana. And it was really good, apparently.)
With the hard work done, with Jesus in the lead, with so many of our questions finally answered, our bellies filled with the greatest of fare, and the wine of Christ having gone to our heads, I do believe we will have good reason to lift out glasses. A few toasts will be in order. A few jokes will be told, and no greater joy will have ever been felt.
I love that song. Willie makes it good, but God makes it true.