Thursday, October 3, 2013
Only three years
Thinking back to my own youth, I remember how I spent four years of my life in training to become a traditional furniture maker under an old Norse-American cabinetmaker. This man was 32 years my senior, and I was his last apprentice. He grew up on a farm in the borders of Minnesota and North Dakota, one of twelve brothers (there was also one sister). His family was swept up in the pentecostal revivals of the 1920’s and 30’s, and he told me many stories of tent meetings and other experiences in his early life.
I was a new Christian, just having accepted the Lord at the age of 24 just six months before hiring on at the Sterling Furniture Company in Portland. I had prayed, while still living in Corvallis, to be led to a workplace where there would be at least one other Christian.
In short order, the prayer was answered.
The four years I spent with this elder were hard but happy years. Along with his teaching and example in the crafting of wood, without intending it, he passed on to me the legacy of his life in Christ, and little did he know (or perhaps he was aware) that I followed his every move so as to make it my own, my soul being stamped, like communion bread, with the cross of Christ. I was not a Pentecostal, yet there was never a difference between us. Knowing about the ancient faith, he would sometimes say to me, when I had done something that especially pleased him, ‘May the saints bless you!’ For my part, it never occurred to me to think of him and his faith as different from my own. Certainly not. How could I judge him? In my eyes he was perfect, what a Christian man should be. I wanted to emulate him in every way.
Only four years with this man shaped the rest of my life to this very day. And we wonder sometimes, what effect our own lives have on the people around us. To be a Christ-bearer in the world, what possibilities, if only we live in the light of the risen Christ! In only a moment, Christ in us can change the world, forever.
Then, there is the reason behind this all. The reason being the divine Word, through whom the world was made, and in whom we live and move and have our being. Though He is God, He entered into our time and assumed our flesh, living secretly, that is, unknown to the world, just as we live. No one will remember us after we’ve left this world, at least not for long, but the world remembers Him.
The world doesn’t remember Him for anything He did in the first thirty years of His earthly life, or at least not much, but for what He did in the last three.
Only three years was all it took for the world to remember Him, and not only to remember Him, but to be changed, forever. No other time period in all of human history has had as great and lasting an impact on the rest of time as those three years. Yet, at the time they were happening, very few noticed those years at all, in terms of the world’s population. Only a few thousand people at most, and in a land which, though it has become the center of the world’s attention from time to time, is still just a small spit of rocky soil between empires.
Only three years of one man’s life, and billions of other men’s lives are changed forever, even the lives of those who don’t know Him, who don’t ask themselves the question, ‘Who is that man?’ If that isn’t power, then I don’t know what is, and only One could have that power, the Lord Almighty, who is alive and present with us at this very moment, the risen Christ.
at 9:00 PM