TITLE: A Symphony of Miracles Chapter 23 Connections 5/21/14
By Richard McCaw
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In this world some connections become influences that lead us away from full commitment to God.
One day a wealthy young man, probably a member of the Council or Sanhedrin, suddenly ran up and knelt before Jesus, “Good Teacher,” he asked, “what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” Deeply religious, he had come with a troubled heart.
Jesus corrected him. “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God!” Then to reveal how sinful the young man really was, Jesus listed some of the commandments.
He replied, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?” In spite of his connections in the synagogue, he knew there was “something lacking.”
How did that story of the rich young ruler relate to my life? Let me give you some background.
Dr. Merlin Edwards was a tall, brown-skinned gentleman with a warm smile and white hair curled on either side of his bald head. He was the owner of a chiropractic clinic where he lived with his wife, a short, bespectacled white lady, with auburn hair parted down the middle and who walked with a limp. “Doctor,” as we called him, had used chiropractic manipulations to nurse her back to health. He had two daughters from a previous marriage; Lucy, who lived with him and Marla, who lived next door. Lucy’s two children, Alex and Curlena, became our childhood playmates.
Red concrete steps led to the front porch of our small rented cottage, to the left of the Edwards’ large residence. Our grandmother, recently arrived from New York. was then living with us.
Our cottage adjoined the maid’s quarters, where Benjy, the old gardener and handyman, lived. After a day’s work, Benjy could be seen sitting by the back gate strumming an old guitar and singing a popular song through cigar-stained teeth with a smile on his unshaven face.
In those days, I made marshmallows and grew marigolds and peanuts on either side of the red stone steps of our cottage. With a child’s saw, hammer and nails I also built a toy bed for my sister’s doll. Who knows? I might have become a scientist, an agriculturist, or even an inventor. In spite of my connections to nature and creative activities, I knew deep down that there was something lacking, something more for which to live.
At home, after school, I buried myself in Hardy Boys’ mysteries and poetry books. The taste for words and the thrill of adventure transported me to other worlds. Soon, I began writing my own mystery novel. Every day I listened on the radio to a British mystery series “The Avengers,” and during the summer vacation to “Superman,” and “Doctor Paul,” In those activities I found some kind of temporary satisfaction.
I often enjoyed a swing in a branch of a large lignum vitae tree near the doctor’s residence, singing Billy Eckstein’s ‘Your Kiss of Fire,’ a popular love song in those days.
But the moral restraints of many of my classmates were being lured away and destroyed by friends and the rhythm of worthless songs. I could have taken that route. There were unusual students at school, who followed the complicated music of the classical masters. Like them, I could have connected to that route and perhaps found fame and glory. But there was something more for which I longed, but never quite knew what it was.
At twelve-and-a-half, I had been accepted to attend Wolmers’ Boys’ School, and soon joined the Junior Choir.
One day my entire class wrote a drama which we later performed on stage. Costumed for the night in a real police uniform, I had the last, amusing line to say. Next day, as students called jokingly to me, “Corpie Jones!” I felt a sense of importance, and inspired by the adulation of my classmates, I could have been led into a theatrical career.
Was there a hand shaping events in my life? Was I only a robot and life just a gamble?
I was not more righteous than my schoolmates, but my mother’s principles of honesty, and the Word of God from Sunday School became a restraining force that connected me to a better path.
Consider the rich young ruler. Who knows what influences impacted him? Perhaps his mother, as she sang Jewish chants at bedtime, or his father’s constant reading of the Torah. But he came to Jesus aware that his religious efforts had left him empty-hearted.
“Go, sell what you have and give to the poor,” Jesus told him, “and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” What a challenge! It seemed an impossible task!
Unable to surrender everything completely, he turned sadly away, for he had great possessions. It is amazing how connections can destroy or save our lives!
At the end of Jesus’ ministry, two other men, probably influenced by evil companions, were crucified on either side of Jesus’ cross. Both knew they had lived sinful lives.
In the Hebrew Bible, God is described with the awesome name ‘Jehovah Tsidkenu’, the Lord our Righteousness. It confirms what Jesus told the rich young ruler: Only God is good! “We are all like an unclean thing,” declares Isaiah, “and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags.”
With nothing left in this world, in the midst of great agony, one prayed, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” He had chosen the right connection.
Then Jesus promised, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” That is the hope of every soul who turns from sin and trusts Christ completely.
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