Monthly Archives: December 2018

A NOTE TO A DEAR FRIEND

[I’ve just now added a few sentences to the note I originally sent to my friend. D.C.]

Emerson said we don’t make friends–they’re given to us by God. I do believe that with a settled conviction.

I’m aware of the sociological structure of reality and I accept all that it tells us about humans creating the various worlds in which they live and the relationships they create in all the complex ways [known and unknown, obvious and mysterious] that relationships are made. None of this we reject, nor should we reject it for God made humans as humans and to be humans so we’re involved in creating worlds. But beyond our engagement in this truth and in these realities there is an overshadowing grace, always offering, always helping, always shaping [without forcing  or coercion] hearts and minds and taking opportunity in “chance” events to bring lives together. How is that we happened to meet though born and raised half a world apart and what was it that lit a flame that has stayed warm, bright and alive for these 53 years?
We say “Who?” rather than simply “what?” And He does it invisibly, without noise, incognito and with full use of humans as humans. And because He operates this way sociologists like Berger, Luckmann, Durkheim or Gottwald are strongly tempted to reduce the entire process to the horizontal and to human creativeness.
But Jesus won’t have it. The entire Holy Scriptures, read as a single unfolding drama won’t have it. If there is anything good in life, truly good and noble and honorable and warm and lovely and joy-bringing, it is the work of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who works with and in and through humans to whom He gave and gives creative power to enrich and bless and beautify. And though we see ugliness and other things, a single strong, sweet, honorable love multiplied by millions defies a graceless world.
There’s always the mystery as to how God allows humans to be humans, free in their choices to do this rather than that or that rather than this; to do it  here rather than there; at this time rather than some other time—-the mystery of how He can choose to allow all that and still be the author of what is beautiful and lasting, warm and ennobling, pleasure and adventure-bringing.
In the end, looking back at it all we know beyond rational debate that we really did have an actual hand in the making of it and that our background and life experiences and situations had definite input. It wasn’t done without us. We know that! And then if we’re blessed as you and I have been blessed by His shaping, we know beyond “proof” that He behind the scenes was enjoying Himself in bringing the lovely and never-ending thing about.
He’s doing it ceaselessly even in these moments and He will continue to do it.

He did it for me with us.

Herbert Pocket & Billy Moore

I put this piece up on another site some years back.

Philip Pirrip, better known to the world as “Pip” in Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, made an intimate and lifelong friend of Herbert Pocket who, as a fine human, was made of better stuff than the hero of the great novel. Pip said of him, Herbert Pocket had a frank and easy way with him that was very taking. I had never seen anyone then, and I have never seen anyone since, who more strongly expressed to me, in every look and tone, a natural incapacity to do anything secret and mean. There was something wonderfully hopeful about his general air, and something that at the same time whispered to me that he would never be successful or rich. I don’t know how this was.
I feel a warm jealousy in regard to Herbert Pocket because such a thing could never have been said of me for I never have tended to be open and wonderfully hopeful and I hate it that I could never have been described as having a natural incapacity to do anything secret and mean. Still, I know what it is to cherish a hunger to be that kind of person and since God is faithful who has promised I one day will be—but not yet, I’m afraid.
The hunger for such character is the work of God in us, of course, and He works it in us through people like Herbert in literature or in actual people like Billy Moore, who died just two days ago (11/17/18). I don’t remember the precise year but it was half of forever ago that I met Billy and his wife Jeannie who took me in to their lives and I thank God often for his gift to me of these two.
Billy was the first person I had ever met who struck me as not having any hidden agendas. You understand, no one is Jesus but Jesus; but Billy met me the way a breath of fresh air takes you when you come out of a stuffy theatre. It makes me smile even as I write this when I recall how he expressed himself. There was nothing rude about him on the one hand or sickeningly sweet on the other. He was quick to praise as well as to take issue—both, without any tendency to overkill; naturally, as if it was his way of living, which indeed it was. I’d hear him address congregations in the same manner as he would speak to individuals, strangers as well as friends. I’ve seen him take instruction as if he had been given a gift and I’ve heard him giving it with confidence while respecting his hearers. I’d trust him with my life and all that is any part of me.
But it was only when I came to be fairly well acquainted with Herbert Pocket that I realized, too, that Billy Moore would never be wealthy or “successful”. There is a fine “shallowness” in Pocket that wasn’t in Billy but they both seem to me to have things in their inner structure that make things like wealth and “success” matters of little consequence. I don’t suggest that either of them is opposed to such things much less ignorant of them and I don’t think we should despise honorable ambition—not at all! But it lifts my heart to come across people whose deep sense of success and wealth is not the kind that others (even honorably) seek for.

The world I wake to each morning is a better world for all the Herbert Pockets and Billy Moores that are in it.