West Point cadets, when they graduate to serve as Army officers, step into what the United States Military Academy calls “The Long Gray Line.”
Christian cadets, as we might call ourselves, step into what the Bible might call The Long White Line. They are those who have not —
… soiled their clothes. They will walk with Jesus, dressed in white, for they are worthy. Those who are victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out their names from the book of life but will acknowledge their names before my Father and his angels (Rev. 3:4-5).
Think of some we know who stand in that Long White Line:
Daniel—thrown into a den of lions, but God spared him.
Jeremiah—spared but attacked by his own brothers, beaten and put into the stocks, imprisoned by the king, threatened with death, thrown into a pit, but eventually freed from prison.
God spared Daniel and Jeremiah. God has done the same for many saints in The Long White-robed line.
This All Saints’ Day we remember them and recall their names and their example to us.
But we also think of the many saints who, for God’s glory, were not spared. Saints like Abel, Isaiah, Samson, John the Baptist, Stephen, Peter, Paul, Mark the Evangelist, Polycarp of Smyrna, Ignatius of Antioch, John Wycliffe, Felix Manz, William Tyndale, Jim Elliot, Chinese Martyrs, Martyrs of Uganda, Cassie Bernall, et al.
They also stand in that Long White Line.
Hebrews 1 gives us a serious summary description of its own:
… some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— the world was not worthy of them (Heb. 11:36-38).
God spares some saints in this life, and some he does not. Regardless, The Long White Line grows.
Soon enough, at some future celebration on All Saints’ Day, a new name will be remembered as standing in that Long White Line — yours.
Now that’s something to Celebrate!