Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Bethesda Baptist, an Old Bible, and My Hair

Here's another of the pictures I scanned into my computer in recent months. It brings back some interesting memories, one of which was pretty important to me.

We were in London in May of 1991 (as I recall). It was our first business trip, and the boss had sent us over for a week to meet and negotiate with our Lloyd's, London Brokers, and with several of the Underwriters at Lloyds'. It was quite an experience, to put it mildly.

We got there on a Friday morning, so we could spend the weekend adjusting, before our meetings Monday through Friday noon. Being good (?) Baptists, we looked for Baptist churches in the phone book and found one a short Underground ride from the hotel. In fact, it was quite close to Harrod's, and we went for the service Sunday morning.

It happened to be an anniversary celebration .. their 125th. They were hoping for 125 in attendance, and I believe they made it. Curiously, their speaker that morning was from Jacksonville, FL, so we went thousands of miles to hear a guy we could've gone to the Sunshine State to hear....

I don't remember much about the service except two distinct impressions: one was the feeling of expectation that I was about to see a hunchback appear from somewhere and carry someone off; the other was the impression a hard wooden pew makes on one's derriere'.

But the service was life-changing for me, in one way. At the end, they gave everyone there one page from a 125-year-old bible that had come completely apart. I didn't much look at it, olde Englishe writing and all, until I got home. When I did, my eyes fell on...

"Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the LORD.

That's Leviticus 19:32, King James Version (you expected something else?).

It suddenly dawned on me (read: God convicted me) that I was trying to cover up something in myself that God said was worthy of being honored. So I went home and threw a nearly-new bottle of a well-known hair coloring solution, in the trash can.

That thought even spilled over into other areas of my life. When Peg experienced menopause, she and I decided we would embrace it and understand it and not try to offset the effects with this hormone or that drug. When her emotions rose up and caused her to do something that wasn't like her, she had a little hand signal that let me know I hadn't done anything, it was just hormones. That was a good time for us, in fact.

Not that we don't fight back when illness comes. But I'm doggoned if I'm going to go out of my way to avoid the process of growing old, as God has made us the way we are (other than what sin brings me).

And we've applied the same to me as we face the vagaries of age. Men experience, usually in their mid-40's, a thing called andropause (some refer to it as the midlife crisis). It concerns loss of normal drive .. you know, that part of us that makes us more hunter-killers than shoppers, and wanting more to conquer miles than travel them. What I've found is that, after the experience of re-orientation of my emotional makeup, I'm more prone to do the things I ought to do because they're right to do, rather than simply trying to close a sale or teach a class or win an argument because I'm driven to.

Perhaps that's one of the reasons the Bible seems to equate age with wisdom.

It also may well be, that the Leviticus verse sparked the idea in me that God wasn't about the business of filling some "God-shaped hole" in us (which I'd heard all my spiritual life); rather, He was about shaping us to fit into the place in HIS life, to which He wants to conform us.

It's a lot like the old man who used to carve the most beautiful elephants anyone ever saw. Out of wood, stone, soap, most anything. When they asked him how he made them so lifelike, he said:

"Easy. You just chip away everything that doesn't look like elephant".

I think that's the process God uses on us, only with a different image. If we'll hand Him our hammer & chisel, at least......

In my case, it was a bottle of Grecian Formula.

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2 Comments:

At 8:35 PM, August 20, 2008, Blogger Ken Hearn said...

Luke 22:32
"But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren."
What does Jesus mean "when thou art converted"? It's obviously not about salvation. I think Jesus is telling Peter that, when he's converted into what God wants him to be, he must help his brother get to the place where he (Peter) is now.
Our trials and hardships aren't necessarily about us (right now) but what God is converting us into.
And, maybe some day, we'll use this knowledge to help lift someone else up.
Great post Bob

 
At 10:55 PM, August 20, 2008, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

Ken,

I don't know what all Jesus was referring to but the term "converted" means to turn, or revert, or go back. Possibly when Peter went back to his people, and possibly a future reference to the fact that Peter would deny Him, but then turn back to the faith.

 

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