Monday, February 2, 2009

What I'm Reading

I recently finished my second Malcolm Muggeridge book, Conversion: The Spiritual Journey of a Twentieth-Century Pilgrim. I'm not going to give any in-depth analysis here; I just want to say that it was a beautiful book.

Muggeridge tells his life story, from youth to near-death, mostly in the third person but in a style that doesn't seem the least bit pretentious. He gives enough detail that the reader has a sense of the momentous events in the author's momentous life, but the story isn't nearly so much a historical narrative as it is a spiritual confession.

Just one sample excerpt, from the last chapter:

The hardest thing of all to explain is that death's nearness in some mysterious way makes what is being left behind--I mean our earth itself, its shapes and smells and colours and creatures, all that one has known and loved and lived with--the more entrancing; as the end of a bright June day somehow encapsulates all the beauty of the daylight hours now drawing to a close; or as the last notes of a Beethoven symphony manage to convey the splendour of the whole piece. Checking out of St Theresa of Avila's second-class hotel, as the revolving doors take one into the street outside, one casts a backward look at the old place, overcome with affection for it, almost to the point of tears.

So, like a prisoner awaiting his release, like a schoolboy when the end of term is near, like a migrant bird ready to fly south, like a patient in a hospital anxiously scanning the doctor's face to see whether a discharge may be expected, I long to be gone. Extricating myself from the flesh I have too long inhabited, hearing the key turn in the lock of Time so that the great doors of Eternity swing open, disengaging my tired mind from its interminable conundrums and my tired ego from its wearisome insistencies. Such is the prospect of death.

A triumphant story of a very real human being; someone so hard to find--an honest man. Well worth the read.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

When Jesus Called

Today's lesson deals with the call of Jesus to follow Him, and how several people responded to that call. I'm not necessarily talking about the salvation of their souls (though that may possibly be implied as well); I'm just talking today about the legacy of the lives of these ten or so people who came face to face with Jesus Christ and heard the words coming from His own lips: "Follow Me."

First of all, let's look at the four famous fishermen--two sets of brothers--Andrew and Peter, James and John:

"And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, 'Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.' They immediately left their nets and followed Him. Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him" (Matthew 4:18-22).
We know from other passages that these men already knew Jesus, at least a little bit. They had heard Him speak; they had been to His house. But this represented a significant moment in their lives; Jesus says the words, "Follow Me." And they did. Later on in the book of Luke, a similar scene is recorded. Some think it refers to the same point in time--I think it refers to another moment, shortly after the first call from the Lord: