On a cool fall day right around Thanksgiving, I was sitting on the front porch of my son’s and daughter-in-law’s home enjoying a cup of coffee, taking in the beautiful bright red and orange colors of the foliage on the hillside that is part of Petit Jean Mountain. Listening to the birds and all the other sounds not heard in a city, and surrounded by this peaceful beauty, I wanted to know: How did Petit Jean Mountain get its name?
The legend is a romantic Arkansas tale, set in the 1700s. A young French girl named Adrienne Dumont disguised herself as a cabin boy named Jean to follow her beloved, Chavet, to the New World. Because of her small size, the French sailors nicknamed her “Petit Jean,” meaning “Little John.” After arriving in Arkansas, she became seriously ill. One source surmises that she contracted “Swamp Fever” while nursing Chavet back to health from the same disease. During her illness, her identity was revealed. Sadly, she succumbed to the illness and was buried atop the mountain that she had grown to love, which now bears her name. Many years later, a mound of earth thought to be the grave of Petit Jean was discovered.
Due to the efforts of Dr. T. W. Hardison and other supporters, Petit Jean State Park was established in 1923 to protect and preserve natural beauty and historical resources for future generations. Petit Jean State Park, which covers 2,800 acres, was Arkansas’ first state park and is located near the small city of Morrilton.
This story of Petit Jean is a story of true love. She did all she could to be with Chavet, and it cost her life. Her grave sits on the side of this beautiful mountain overlooking the Arkansas River. Revelation 20 reveals that one day, that grave will be opened, and young Petit Jean will live again: “And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death” (vv. 12–14).
The resurrection of the dead is our hope of seeing our loved ones again. When Jesus Christ came to this earth, He gave up everything. He was crucified on a stake to shed His blood and die for the remission of our sins. He “made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:7–8).
He did it because of the undying love that He and His Father have for all mankind. When He returns to this earth, that love will flow to all the nations, and there will finally be peace. “Many nations shall come and say, ‘Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.’ For out of Zion the law shall go forth, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between many peoples, and rebuke strong nations afar off; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore” (Micah 4:2–3).
What a wonderful day that will be! People will desire to learn more of God’s ways, and all the nations will flow to the true “Mountain of God” to learn truth instead of war.
Having enjoyed the view of a mountain that God created in the middle of Arkansas, I can only imagine the beauty of the “Mountain of the Lord,” realizing that, one day, Petit Jean and the crew with whom she sailed will have their chance to go there and learn God’s ways.
What a wonderful future we have to look forward to, and what a wonderful hope we have in the resurrection of the dead at Christ’s return.
There is beauty and hope in the Gospel for all who have ever lived—and died. The booklets What Happens When You Die? and Is This the Only Day of Salvation? can help you understand more about the real “Good News” that Jesus Christ preached to the world. You can order them free of charge here at Tomorrow’s World. Be sure also to watch the telecast “When a Loved One Dies” for the encouragement to face grief and loss with faith.