Melanie had an interesting experience with a book writing project today. She had dedicated her most recent title to a dear friend, as a way of saying thank you for what this friend had done for her. Melanie talked with this friend on the phone today, enjoying the delight in her voice over what Melanie had written on the dedication page.
Melanie was also planning a special dedication in her next book to three pastors who have made a serious impression on her (me too). This same day she received an email from one of these men, turning her down firmly and making it clear he does not wish for her to mention his name in her book dedication.
Melanie had been thinking about spiritual leaders whose example and teaching had influenced us. Although being turned down stings me a bit, I also realize this spiritual leader has just registered another significant lesson for us. He made the reasonable observation to Melanie that it had been many years since we’d had any contact. Even at the time, our contact had been brief. Memorable to us, not so much for him. And no surprise in that.
He had no idea where we were spiritually now, so many years later, and he was too busy to catch up or read Melanie’s books now. I completely understand. It is part of the lesson I am drawing from this little encounter.
This pastor was one who always had his eyes on Jesus, and tried to listen very, very carefully to the Holy Spirit’s direction. May the number of such leaders greatly increase. He is not interested in the awards or recognitions that may flutter around us during our journey home. There is One Voice he is keen to hear on the matter of evaluating and approving his labors on earth. That voice is not our voice.
I do believe we are to speak up with words of appreciation and thanksgiving to those on this journey with us. But the Christian who can tell the difference between my mumbled compliment and the Voice of the King has my respect, even if he chooses to ignore me, because he can tell the difference!
Lately I have been writing some short daily devotionals working my way through the entire Gospel of Mark. If they’re any good, there’s a chance they’ll be published in The Journey in a couple of years. One of the sections where I found myself slowing way down was the conversation with Jesus in Mark Chapter 13. That’s the section that begins with the disciples admiring the beautiful Temple stonework and pointing it out to Jesus.
Jesus dismisses it. “Not a stone of it will be left on one another,” he tells them. This rather changes the mood and the perspective of the disciples. Four of them approach him later that day on the Mount of Olives, outside the city. I noticed something about that location for this conversation. From here the disciples would be able to see the sun setting in the west, right behind the magnificent Temple across the valley in Jerusalem. Kind of symbolic.
The disciples bring up the question of when Jesus will be taking over. They’re eager to see the pesky Romans chased out of the Promised Land. But Jesus starts describing radical, earth-shaking events that are coming, events that will culminate in stars falling from the sky and the heavenly bodies being shaken. A different perspective than a mere concern for local politics.
Melanie wanted to honor a pastor friend who we held in high esteem, from some brief encounters decades ago that had blessed us. He had his attention focused on One with a more important perspective of his life and work.
That’s supposed to be some kind of hard choice for him?? Are you kidding?? All it means is we were right the first time we met him when we thought, THAT is a man of God.
Today I’m still thinking, we were right.