I was reading yet another poem today by Kenneth Steven. It is about a Farmer’s wife he once set out to visit. When he arrives at her home, a “gust of dogs “comes out the door as she opens it, followed by herself. She comes out with a shining smiling face and clear blue eyes. She then mentions her husband, dead for 30 years and as she does so, she is hit by a tsunami of emotion that make her eyes “melt against the sun” and her voice buckle. His description of her reminded me of many people I have met in my life and ministry thus far. Some of them have indeed been farmers’ wives, but not all of them.
I love the beauty of such writing. More than that, it helps explain what I felt I had to write about today. In yesterdays blog I talked about the real Jesus. I guess today is about the real Christian. What does real Christian life look like? To me it looks like that farmer’s wife in that poem. We have been knocked down, perhaps many times, in the course of life: perhaps to quote Spurgeon, we have stood at a graveside where we have buried half our heart or more… and yet somehow by the grace of God we carry on, to greet people and to greet the day.
This is the mark of the true apostles of the faith, those sent out into the world by Jesus with the good news of the already here but not yet Kingdom. This is the mark too of every follower of Jesus to varying extent. You are the real thing if you have eyes that can shine and also melt. You are the real thing if your voice sings the praises of God, speaks to people with friendliness and yet at times that same voice can buckle. In fact if your eyes cannot both shine and melt, and your voice cannot sing and buckle, I wonder if we can say we really follow a crucified and risen Christ… indeed I wonder if we are living in reality at all….
I saw a strange sight on T.V a few years ago. A preacher was being hailed by his T.V. host as being someone who God had raised up to show what the blessed life looks like. Apparently it looks like owning a mansion, having a jet and sitting on a gold throne in a T.V. studio. It means wearing a Rolex instead of a Timex. Not long after that in our prayer meeting I heard a dear man with mental difficulties praying like this: “Lord, I thank you for the crocuses especially the yellow ones. When I see them they make me happy, they sort of make me feel I have come through another year. Thank you too that when I needed to know the time I saw a big clock in the street.” He went on to thank God for warm water for his bath each day, expressing that this was “such a blessing, a wonderful blessing.” I think despite all his suffering, he knows more about the real thing, more about the blessed life than a man sitting on a gold throne being envied by the world and a gone-astray church “audience.” I think Paul would say of him that he truly is a follower of Jesus. In fact let the last word be with Paul today:
2 Corinthians Chapter 4.6 – 11
“6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. 8 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9 Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; 10 Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. 11 For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.”
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