A seemingly insignificant local story made front-page news in my hometown newspaper on August 16, 1961, but it was no small thing for a local 5-year-old. The boy was taking a bath on the afternoon of the 15th when he decided to take a drink of water –– from the bathtub faucet.
That innocent act caused the wide-mouthed faucet to get lodged inside the boy’s mouth, and after his Mother could not free him, police and firemen were called to the home. The faucet was eventually cut off the wall with a hacksaw and the boy was taken to the hospital emergency room –– with the faucet remaining in his mouth for the time.
The boy was surprisingly in good spirits when the faucet was finally removed from his mouth an hour later, while his frantic Mother had to be treated for possible shock. Before leaving the hospital that day, the lad promised the police he would use a glass to drink water thereafter.
Also found on the front page of that day’s newspaper was a photograph taken some 4,600 miles from my hometown, and that photo – taken in Germany – made news around the world. To this day, the picture of Conrad Schumann remains to be among my favorite photographs of historical value, for it shows a longing for freedom.
Schumann, an East German border guard at the time, was just 19-years-old when he was photographed jumping over the barbed wire to flee his homeland in search of freedom on the West German side.
Leading up to that decisive moment of defecting, young Schumann had been quite nervous in guarding his post. This was just days before the Communist regime would begin replacing the barbed wire with the infamous gray concrete “Berlin Wall.”
As Schumann stood guard duty at this East Berlin post that day, a group of young men not far away on the West German side – all unknown to Schumann – came near and began encouraging him to leap his way to freedom. They spoke softly, yet compellingly, “Come over, man, come over.”
Schumann desired to flee, but he hesitated. He was fearful the other two East German guards near him would shoot to kill if he attempted to jump over the barbed wire. Meanwhile, West Berlin Police were tipped off that an East German soldier might possibly defect to their side. In preparation, they drove a panel truck closeby and the back door was nonchalantly opened, just in case.
Schumann then decided to take action. He discreetly nodded to his “new friends” across the wire while casually looking around. When he saw the other two guards had their backs to him, he knew his time to leap over the barbed wire was now or never.
Many years later, Schumann spoke of that fearful time by saying, “My nerves were at breaking point. I was very afraid. Many people were standing around, and that was good, because they distracted my colleagues. I was able to swap my loaded sub-machine gun for an empty one before I jumped. The jump was not so difficult then. After that, the gun fell noisily on the ground. With a full magazine, it probably would have gone off.” He then added, “I took off, jumped, and into the (truck). In three, four seconds it was all over.”
Once inside the truck, Schumann was taken to the West Berlin debriefing center, where all he asked for was a liverwurst sandwich. Because of his daring escape to freedom, over 2,100 East German soldiers and policemen later followed his lead.
As I think on this incident, I consider the many things young Schumann left behind in East Germany, including all of his family. His only contact with family in the East after that was through letters. On the opposite side of the coin, however, was the newfound life of freedom he discovered –– “jusssssssst” inches across the barbed wire inside West Berlin.
There was relative calm and ease of mind in America in the mid-to-late 1950s and early 1960s, that is, if you don’t count the times school children learned to hide underneath school desks or when some families built air raid shelters in their back yards for fear Russia might bomb America.
Yet, compare those apparent innocent times to the horrendous things we see today, 60-some years later. Before 1973, WHO would have ever given thought that our American courts would begin approving women of the murder of innocent babies in the womb through what is labeled as ‘abortion’ – or that states in our nation would approve of the slaughter?
Sunday School children everywhere are even smart enough to know God’s Word commands everyone,“Thou shalt not kill” (Exodus 20:13). These words of God are easy to understand. If a heart is beating and blood flowing through the veins of a little one in the womb, they are a living being, and NOT a “blob,” as many ungodly persons claim.
Fifty-five years before Conrad Schumann made his courageous leap to freedom – Gospel music songwriters James W. Acuff and Emmett S. Dean wrote the song “JUST OVER IN THE GLORY-LAND.”
Acuff and Dean were undoubtedly reminded of John 14 when they penned the four verses telling about our Home awaiting us in Heaven. Portions of the verses read:
“I’ve a Home prepared where the saints abide”
“And I long to be by my Savior’s side”
“I am on my way to those mansions fair”
“There to sing God’s praise and His glory share”
“What a joyful tho’t, that my Lord I’ll see”
“And with kindred saved, there forever be”
“With the Blood-washed throng I will shout and sing” – and
“Glad hosannas to Christ, the Lord and King”
Yet, weaved throughout the verses and chorus of this song are other words that also excite me. As I think on Conrad Schumann and how his life changed abruptly “jusssssssst” across the barbed wire inside West Berlin, I think even more on what it means for the Christian when we reach “jusssssssst over in the Gloryland.”
We often hear examples of things that await the Saints of God in Heaven, but there are MANY other things that will no longer be nipping at our heels when we reach that Land. Once we shake the dirt of this filthy world from our feet and step “jusssssssst over in the Glory-Land,” all the evil and disruptive things we know today – including satan himself – will NEVER bother us again. NEVER AGAIN!
In the first paragraph of his first Inaugural Address, newly-elected President Franklin D. Roosevelt hoped to calm the American people during the times of the Depression by saying: “So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself –– nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” His final words of this 1933 address to the American people were, “…We humbly ask the blessing of God. May He protect each and every one of us. May He guide me in the days to come.”
While all of America is now at odds over the person we want to see in the White House, there is NO doubt in the mind of the Child of God of the One WE truly desire. HIS name is JESUS, and He will forever be The King of Kings.
Christians in this nation are facing evil obstacles and great opposition as never before. We now face things never once thought about when Roosevelt gave his speech eighty-three years ago. While America and other nations have since seen horrendous violence and acts of terrorism, the Saints of God will never again know these things once we step “jusssssssst over in the Glory-Land.”
Just think, Child of God: We’ll never again know fear“jusssssssst over in the Glory-Land.” Everything that causes fear here on Earth will be eliminated in Heaven. While we live here, though, we can rest on God’s Word to know, “Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day” (Psalm 91:5).
“Jusssssssst over in the Glory-Land,” there’ll be no more shedding of tears. “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. ~And He that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And He said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.” (Revelation 21:4,5).
Each day we live, it seems the very breath of satan himself is breathing down our necks. But “jusssssssst over in the Glory-Land” is found NO more sadness, sorrow, or sickness of any kind. In that glorious Land, there’ll be no temptations, no bullying, and no more “green-eyed monster” jealousies, just to name a few.
In addition to annoying political robocalls we now receive at supper time, what other persons or things won’t trouble the Child of God “jusssssssst over in the Glory-Land?” God’s Word makes it clear, for He said, “And there shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (Revelation 21:7).
Know this to be true, Child of God, satan will never bother us again once we step “jusssssssst over in the Glory-Land.” Just as God intervened for His people fleeing the hands of Pharaoh and all his army at the Red Sea, God also has a way out for His own today.
We can take heart when we remember, “And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more FOR EVER” (Exodus 14:13).
One day, Saints of God, all of our earthly struggles will be over. As a Pastor friend of mine says, “…God’s going to grab the devil by the nape of the neck and put him into the lake of fire, and he’s going to burn forever and ever, day and night…”
Then, when we step “jusssssssst over in the Glory-Land” and it comes time for the Marriage Supper, you better believe I’ll be sitting down to more than what Conrad Schumann requested following his leap to freedom. I have no idea what will be on the table that glorious day, but I do know God has more in store for His children than a mere liverwurst sandwich.