Look, I know I live in a digital world like computers, and I think I have an incurable case of technophobia anyway. But, you know, I've slowly made friends with all of this. It's great stuff! Early in my computer life, some of my non-technophobic friends were explaining a computer installation to me and what they needed to do with it, at least back at that time. They used a lot of words I didn't understand, but then they said, "Ron, we have to install a dedicated line." And I said, "Yes! At last! I understand that word."
I was watching the History Channel one day, and I was reminded of something I had heard about one of World War II's most dramatic confrontations. British General Montgomery went face-to-face with Hitler's best, General Rommel. They called him "The Desert Fox." He was a brilliant strategist in his campaign to take and then to keep North Africa for the Fuehrer. Well, Montgomery finally defeated the Desert Fox at the Battle of El Alamein. But history also tells us one reason why he did. See, General Montgomery had a picture hanging in his command tent where he could see it every day. No, it wasn't Winston Churchill. It wasn't the King of England. It was a picture of General Rommel. Montgomery said he didn't ever want to forget who he was fighting.
Marathon man! Yeah, that's me. When we're driving a long trip, I want to get there. I like to drive. Oh, guess what? We just keep barreling. You can ask my kids when they were little. They knew we only stopped when the gas tank was nearly empty. Sometimes when our other tanks were really full I guess. But they might say, "No, he wasn't marathon man. He was psycho man!" Well, I have to wonder if I would stop at all if the car didn't have to. You know, cars are like that. They just have to stop for refueling. Cars don't run forever. Neither do we.
It was a scene that was re-enacted a number of times when our daughter was a little girl. Okay, here's Daddy, in his chair in the living room, immersed in his newspaper. In comes daughter, asking for a little attention from Dad. Dad says, "Uh, in a while, honey." The request is repeated, and the same response. Then, after a few minutes, a little girl comes crashing through the newspaper onto her father's lap. Before I could say anything, she would wrap her arms around my neck and just say, "Daddy, it's cuddle time!"Oh, boy! Melted Daddy, all over the floor.
I had just returned from an exciting, but exhausting, ministry trip. I was, as I think the British say, "cabbaged." Well, that kind of described me. Two of our staff picked up my remains at the airport, and I settled deep into the passenger side of the front seat. As we were approaching my home, one of my co-workers said, "I can tell you're really tired." I asked how. The answer was, "You didn't ask to drive." Now that's amazing. I guess I always want to drive, and this time the thought hadn't even occurred to me! I'm not even sure I had any thoughts.
The news accounts from Florida said the man was in his 70s, and that he went for a walk the night before. Now the reason his walk made the news was because he was sleeping during this walk and because of where he ended up. Apparently, he got up out of bed, grabbed his cane, went outside, and started walking - all without ever waking up... until he walked right into a lake. Oh, not just a lake; no, a lake filled with alligators. And those alligators went right to him, welcomed him. Yeah! Thankfully, he was somehow able to beat them off with his cane and crawl to safety. But you talk about a rude awakening! Can you imagine waking up in the water, looking into alligator jaws?
Ten suitcases and two trunks. Yep, that's what our daughter took to college with her that first year. Using some of my frequent flyer free tickets, we all flew to Chicago to take her to college. And her two brothers - oh, they were just thrilled to help move their sister's whole life. But something very strange happened when we landed at Chicago's O'Hare Airport. They closed the airport. Record-breaking rain had flooded the airport approaches so no one could come or go, including flight crews and people picking up passengers. And as we joined thousands of other passengers trying to find some food, a phone, a room, we had a distinct disadvantage. Mount Luggage! Yeah, it was very hard to go anywhere with all that baggage!
Somewhere back in the deep storage of your brain file, you probably remember him from World History class: the emperor Charlemagne. Actually, Charlemagne was the most powerful European ruler of the Middle Ages, leading a people he called the Franks to rule most of Europe. Under his rule, many people got baptized into the Church. It was pretty much expected of his soldiers, for example. In fact, they would go down to the river en masse and take the plunge. But one source reports that there was one thing that was a bit unusual about the baptism of those soldiers. When they would go under the water, they would hold one hand out of the water with their sword in that hand. They didn't want that hand baptized. That was the one they wanted to be free to use to kill whoever they needed to kill.
One of the most amazing Christian warriors in my lifetime was a man who came to be known as Brother Andrew, or 'God's Smuggler'. He risked everything to get God's Word into spiritually closed countries where that was virtually impossible. Many have considered him a spiritual hero. No one could doubt that he was, at the very least, a bold risk-taker for Christ.
In his biography, he tells about an incident in his early life as a follower of Christ that showed him the kind of God he was serving. After some pretty wild years without the Lord, he came to Christ and almost immediately felt the call to begin training for ministry. He went to this small Bible school in Scotland, and before the students were allowed to graduate, they were given a very unusual assignment. They were asked to go out for a month to do evangelistic outreaches in Scottish villages, and they were given some money to live on - one British pound, to be exact. For those of us who are Americans, it would be like being given a dollar to live on for a month. The students were to go with that one bill and eat, and sleep, and rent halls, and buy refreshments, and hold outreaches, and return that one bill at the end of the month. Brother Andrew's team went out and they did just that. Except he returned with enough money for the school to send out two missionaries!
When I look out my window I can see everything clearly. But if I need to read these notes right in front of me, I have to put my glasses on. When I'm driving down the road later today, I won't need my glasses. I've got no problem seeing the road ahead, the cars around me, that road kill I want to avoid. But if I need to pull over and look at my map, forget it – I'd better have my glasses or I'll never find that small town I'm looking for. I am, as they say, farsighted.