An Empty Ballpoint Pen

Poor little humans! They only have one tiny life and for so many it’s one long crucifixion until they die of exhaustion, unmissed and unmourned. Dear God they haven’t time to become great sinners because they’re too busy covering their heads while someone is beating them senseless and to death; they’re too busy trying to figure out how they’re going to feed their children and they’re so exhausted that their hearts can’t carry the crushing emotional burden! There’s so much pain, disappointment and unanswered prayers; so much undeserved suffering.

All right, so they’re all sinners but what chance was there that they could be otherwise? Here’s an actual case. His name’s John, he’s eighteen, eighteen! And he’s no vicious hoodlum and his mother is no “Beast of Buchenwald”. Yes, yes, they’ve done wrong things in their lives—did God expect them to be sinless? Born into a world like this and He fully expects them to get out of it without sinning? He knows better though there are many who are friends of His who don’t seem to know what He knows perfectly well!

Here’s one of them: John Risso’s mother. Multiply her by a billion!

“On January 25th, 1973 in Memorial Hospital, John Risso, red-haired, laughing, tall, eighteen, tractor-driving, cow-scratching, flirtatious, shy, died after two and a half years of leukemia. After six weeks of a raging temperature, experimental drugs, bleeding, and an abscess in his rectum that became gangrenous, he died soft and gentle, finally, after six hours of violent death throes. His face was so thin, his hair only a memory, a soft red fuzz, arms blue and green from shots and intravenous feeding, he looked like an old picture of a saint after his tortures were over…
Why would a kind God do what was done to John, or do such a thing to me? I’m poor, have only secondhand furniture and clothing. The things of value were my husband and sons…How can I live with the agony he suffered?
Part of the time he was in a comma, and  when conscious he kept saying, ‘Mama, help me, Mama, help me.’ I couldn’t and it’s killing me. I whispered in his ear, ‘John, I love you so much.’ All of a sudden his arm came up stiffly and fell across my back, and very quietly he said, from some vast depth, ‘Me too.’ “

There are no currently fully satisfying answers to the agony of the world because it isn’t “answers” or “explanations” these people want—they want it to stop! And yet, despite the silly advice from silly OT professors who tell us to keep our mouths shut on the subject, the sufferers keep on asking “why?”
I don’t know very much but I but I know I’m tired of scholarship with all its wisdom—a wisdom that can show a mass of opposing ways to understand the same texts and prove to me that I haven’t got a clue about what the Bible is really saying. I know Jesus knew the Holy Scriptures back to front and inside out. Scriptures that those who take the high moral ground these days sneer at, texts that the wise ones in their wisdom can prove shouldn’t be there—Jesus knew them all. He read the same OT we have (the one with all those ‘offensive’ texts) but the Holy Scriptures never offended Him. He said, “Look closely at them with a trusting and obedient heart and you’ll see Me in them! They’re all about Me!” There must be a “Jesus way” of reading the Holy Bible that’s holier than the way the morally upright ones read it; a way wiser than how the wise ones read it. (John 5:38-39; Luke 11:52)–“Woe to you scholars for you take away the key of knowledge…” I’ll rest on that!
I’m tired too of the banal moralizing that I listen to week after week after week from various sources. Preachers armed with a database of a hundred favorite verses and their favorite topics that they present in something of different suit and yet, more often than not, with the same tired illustrations, platitudes, words of correction, suggestions and clips from the Andy Griffith show. I’d rather have the scandal that I don’t know how to respond to.
Colin Morris, a prominent British churchman some years back told us that during the night a couple of hundred yards from his door people found a little man lying on the pavement–-dead. An Asian. His sole possessions were the pair of shorts he wore, a pair of worn sandals and his shirt with an empty ballpoint pen in the pocket. The autopsy found a ball of grass in his otherwise empty stomach.
Dear Mrs. ‘Rissos’, poor little Asian men we’ve nothing to tell you other than that there is a God and that He is like Jesus Christ and that He WILL do what is right and He WILL right all the wrongs. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is His assurance that that’s true (Acts 17:31).

(Holy Father, you remain to me in so many ways the “unknown God” Paul spoke about. But I can’t deny that Jesus has persuaded me that what I think I know or what I know I don’t know changes nothing about who you are essentially. I and multiplied millions like me are trusting Him and so we are trusting you. If you can actually experience pain that rises out of your sadness at the agony of the world’s great wrong and the consequences of it, you are a strange God indeed. Many truths help me live at peace with my ignorance but that you showed us yourself in Jesus of Nazareth, the resurrected One and that He is image of where you purpose to take us is a life-sustainer. By Him I’m greatly helped to believe that there is a glorious, happy and righteous ending to all this. Thank you in the name of the Living Lord Jesus.)

This entry was posted in REFLECTIONS ON THIS AND THAT on by .

About Jim McGuiggan

Jim McGuiggan was Ethel's husband for fifty-three years. They have three children and eight grandchildren. Ethel went to be with Christ on Easter Sunday, 2009 at the close of a gallant life. He has written some books including: Celebrating the Wrath of God; Heading Home with God; Life on the Ash Heap; Jesus: Hero of Thy Soul; The God of the Towel, The Scarlet Letter; and The Dragon Slayer.

4 thoughts on “An Empty Ballpoint Pen

  1. hiscovenantchild

    Your thoughts have struck a chord in my heart, if only because, like you, I’ve come to that stage of life where all my “theological” explanations seem to have evaporated into thin air. All that remains is a simple acceptance of the words on the page, those words He knew and breathed, and a desperate desire to “try” and live by them — that, and whatever love my heart can muster, us all I have left to offer!


    1. Jim McGuiggan Post author

      That is a lot to offer! And since millions have “offering” hearts like yours the light never goes completely out and the world is not plunged into the pitch darkness of hopelessness and despair. I’m glad He lived in a world as wild as our own and that in His rising for us He gospels to us saying “Yes, trust Me. Your faith is well placed.” God bless you HCC


  2. JimBetterton

    Jim: The more I “know”, the more I “don’t know.” Thanks for these reminders of what we should be about… our Father’s business. Keep up the thought provoking ways that we should look at life.


    1. Jim McGuiggan Post author

      I don’t know that I ever responded to your fine note, Jim. I certainly would have meant to. Yes, we need to be about our business and think noble things of God. Whoever we are or wherever we are we’re in good hands if God is God. Thanks for writing. In His love. jim



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