It's All on Before

I was driving lately with a friend on one of the beautiful side roads in the Great Smokies of North Carolina. We came to a gate across the road, put there to prevent cattle from straying away from a piece of pasture land close by. When we were getting near the gate, my friend told me that a young man who was half-witted would be there to open it for us, and added: "Say a word to him about the Lord."
Sure enough there he was; and as we approached he came out of a little hut that he had made to shelter himself from sun and storm while he earned his few cents daily by opening the gate for passersby.
His face was a remarkable one. It bore the unmistakable stamp of one who had but little intellect; and yet it showed a brightness mixed with manifest simplicity that could not fail to strike the most casual observer. After a few words had passed, I asked him if he were happy.
"Oh, yes; quite happy," he replied.
"But you have not much to make you happy here," I said.
No words of mine can express the bright look that lit up that otherwise unintelligent face. Pointing onward and upward, as. if to a land far away, he said, "It's all on before."
No need to ask what he meant. The bright smile and the few words—so simple, and yet conveying so deep a reality—told of a portion that was his, far beyond anything this poor world could give—a prospect which all the wealth of this world could never purchase.
As we drove on down the road, my friend told me something of the gate-keeper's history. A miserable home, dissolute parents, great poverty, told the story of his earthly path. Five years ago, at a mission-service, the old, old story of the grace of God and the love of Christ to poor sinners had reached and touched his heart. In a moment, as it were, all was changed for him. His life, hitherto so dark and hopeless., was lighted up with the brightness of a Savior's love, known and enjoyed as a blessed reality. Earthly circumstances were unchanged; but what did that matter? It was., as he said, "all on before."