PERSONS FROM THE PAST
It seems to me that persons often exemplify truths, whether for the better or worse. For instance, my mother was the prime care giver for my siblings and myself. I was conceived when she was beyond the time women usually birth children, and not in good health. Even so, I doubt that she ever seriously considered abortion. Years later, she would confide: "I don’t recall that you every did anything wrong." I concluded from this that love must have a short memory.
Mother had been a rural school teacher prior to marriage. Something of this seemed to carry over into her parental role. For instance, she would on occasion take time to explain why I was to do something or refrain. I was appreciative of this consideration.
Not all examples are favorable. As a case in point, I was asked to assist the two pastors in our larger parish, having completed my military service during World War II, and in anticipation of further education. One of the persons in a small village I served was referred to as Old Red, because his once reddish hair had turned gray. So it was that I decided to visit him.
He soon informed me that he knew more about Scripture than I, since he had been raised in a devout context. I did not doubt this, because I had only recently decided to follow Jesus. However, he had no intention of following suit. "It is not that God would not accept me," he added, "but I no longer feel disposed." When urged to reconsider, he resolutely refused.
Was he accurate in his assessment? I cannot be certain, since only God knows when more time will serve no constructive purpose. In any case, I was warned of the danger in procrastination. Instead, appreciatively embrace the good news concerning amazing grace.
Of course, I would prefer to focus my attention on more constructive examples. One concerned a highly esteemed deacon in our church. The depth and consistency of his devotion never ceased to amaze me. At one point, he purchased a new vehicle. Which, in turn, he dedicated to the Lord’s service.
For instance, he made a practice of driving several elderly people through the countryside on a Sunday afternoon. After which, would attend the evening service. For persons restricted to a small walk-up apartment in a crowded urban area, this was perceived as a God-send. For him, it seemed consistent with his commitment to Christ.
Then there was a very out-going women in our congregation, who was pleasant to be around. She was joyful, encouraging, and sensitive to the needs of others. It was only later that I discovered that she had been through some very difficult times. Such as would have discouraged others, but led her to rely on divine enablement.
The time came when she was critically ill. Her extended family gathered to lend their support in the closing moments of her life. Nevertheless, she had slipped into a coma. Then unexpectedly she regained consciousness. She quickly appraised the situation, and asked that the family members gather around her. Once they had done so, she observed: "You need not be concerned for me, since I am looking forward to being in the presence of the Lord. However, I am concerned for some of you, who have not made proper preparation. Please follow me into the Lord’s presence." Her husband would subsequently remark, "It qualified as the most impressive sermon I have ever heard."
All things considered, I am reminded of Peter’s exhortation: "But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you are called, because Christ for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps" (1 Peter 20-21). Do not think it strange, since Jesus has set the prime example of suffering for doing good.
Thus are we reminded in a culture that has become increasingly critical of those of a Christian faith. Unless they are willing to compromise their faith so as to embrace current standards. Then in terms of the sage observation, "The more some things change, the more other matters remain constant."