July 18, 2023 – Reflections on “In The Sweet By and By!”

In the Sweet By and By, we shall meet on that beautiful shore!’

    This hymn, began from a chance conversation between Joseph Webster and his friend Samuel Bennett in the last of the 1800’s. My Grandfather, Gerhard Wiens Suderman, was born in 1874, in Southern Russia in to Jacob and Agneta Suderman. When they emigrated to America Gerhard was a boy. In America, Jacob taught scripture and singing lessons to his family and led worship until he died in 1907.
With the Gerhard’s beautiful tenor voice and faithfulness, he was appointed the worship leader for the Ebenfeld Mennonite Brethren Church near Hillsboro KS. On Grandpa Suderman’s tombstone is this inscription, For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will stand upon the earth. Job 19:25.

         My Mother, Anna Daisy Siemens, wrote a book of what she remembers and learned about her Father in a book entitled, The Lines Are Fallen. The scripture in the beginning of her book, quotes: The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. Psalm 16:6.

         One memory Mother enjoyed was her Father’s desire to learn new hymns leaning against the wall in a kitchen chair, with his pitch pipe as he ‘do-re-mi’ ed, through the newest music. One day, to the delight of his large family, the chair slid out from the wall mid singing ‘fa-sol-do’.

         Grandpa Suderman learned to depend on God as a farmer, waiting for the wheat seeds, his farmland tilled, and the rain coming from God at the right time. He had a family to feed with his wife, Anna Loewen, married in 1900.

‘There’s a land that is fairer, than day, And by faith we can see it afar.  Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For, by it, the people of old received their commendation. By faith, we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. Hebrews 11:13

    There is no time to fully rest or not work. Grandpa believed this verse, For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. 2 Thessalonians 3:10.

      Despite illnesses and accidents, he continued to work. I remember Grandpa one morning, he read the Bible before we left for high school. My two brothers and I usually rushed off to school. But this was Grandpa. When he finished reading the scripture, his blue eyes twinkled with enjoyment and he said in wonder, “I never saw that before!” This embodies the joy of reading God’s Word and understanding more and more of His Word, which is alive no matter how old we become!

      I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart. I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation. As for you, O Lord, you will not restrain your mercy from me; your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me! Psalm 40:10-11.

      Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other. Faithfulness springs up from the ground, and righteousness looks down from the sky. Yes, the Lord will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase. Psalm 85:10-12.

  ‘We shall sing on that beautiful shore, the melodious songs of the blessed!’

The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save, He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by His love; He will exult over you with loud singing. Zephaniah 3:17. When I read this verse long after 1950, when Grandpa left this earth. I knew Grandpa was with God in Heaven! I wished I could visit with him as God rejoiced over my Grandpa. For Grandpa was faithful in all things on earth, obeying God’s commands, and continuously sang His praises.

      They lift up their voices; they sing for joy; over the majesty of the Lord, they shout from the west. Therefore, in the east, give glory to the Lord; in the coastlands of the sea, give glory to the name of the Lord, the God of Israel. Isaiah 12:14-16.

  And our spirit shall sorrow no more, Nots a sign for the blessing of rest.’

    When Moses asked God to accompany him and the Children of Israel as they continued their journey in the wilderness, I learned the secret of rest. And He said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Exodus 33:14.

     Where does our rest lay? From Jesus, the Son of God. “Peace, I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” John 14:27. This is the secret of true rest on earth. God gives us families and the church where we can lift our voices and praise Him together. It is impossible to do this alone.

   Thank you, Grandpa Suderman, for your teaching! The chorus of the hymn, In the sweet by and by, We shall meet on that beautiful shore!

     The last lesson came when I finished singing “Green Pastures!’ As I finished, Grandpa softly said, “That is where I want to be!” Within a week, Grandpa left for the ‘Sweet By and By!’