On a whim…

Life without whimsy is not much of a life at all; without it, a walk in the dark is no laughing matter.

Archive for the ‘grace’ Category

Boredom Is Not a Birth Defect… It Could Be Congenital, Though…

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Not too long ago I listened to an interview with James Taylor  and he attributed his creativity to boredom. I guess I haven’t been bored enough for a while now? Today to add a new post to my blog I am leaning on the extraordinary creativity of a friend whose effort to invite a date to the school prom suggests that he is must suffer from congenital boredom (if Mr. Taylor is correct).  PLEASE watch this: 

Written by David Wilkerson

13 February 2013 at 9:18 pm

Posted in grace, hope, humor, life

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A Friend Remembered

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Ann Fearon was my friend. She was friend to my family, to my late wife, and to our girls. To be on the receiving end of her friendship was not to be taken lightly. Her’s was the truest of friendships and she exercised her prerogatives to the fullest. Not too long ago I was reminded of my debt to her. I preached a sermon during the absence of our pastor and afterwards I was complemented for my diction. I was told that my diction (not my content?) was ‘remarkable’. It is to Ann’s fault or credit that I propel each syllable of a word from my mouth. She once told me, “It just won’t do. You can’t say ‘moun’n’. The word is ‘moun-tain’”. So I enunciated, I perfected my elocution and I attacked every syllable of each word with an earnest ferocity such that the alleged perfection ascribed to me belongs to Ann.

Ann was quick to advise me. At times I thought she was too quick to judgement but time has proved her right far more often than wrong. (Frankly, Ann could make me gasp.) I suppose this makes her sound judgmental. Perhaps to some she seemed so but not to me. Maybe that’s because she wrapped even the sharpest things in a laugh. For Ann, laughter was less than a weapon and more of a defense. The world was always a bit brighter when she was around and God knows that our family in general needed all the brightness we could get. And, yes, I know that laughter can carry a hidden weapon far and hard and speedily into the heart. But when it came to Ann it seemed to me that only the inflated ego had much to fear. She was, as they say, a character.

When I told Ann I was planning to remarry she was concerned that I should be sure to have more children. Only Ann would ever be so bold. But her counsel was sound when she, as a surrogate parent, indicated her approval of my choice. Lucy and I have not brought any children into the world but we have in our care a fine boy who, like so many others, became very attached to “Miss Ann”. So, Ann would inspect me, shoe shine (she always approved). Savannah Wildlife RefugeWere my cuffs completely buttoned? (She could not abide a partial job). Was I ‘peeking’ when leading public prayer from the pulpit? (She tattled to me of colleague whose practice was to fiddle with his notes during the benediction on TV.) And, most importantly, didn’t I surely know where the best crab could be caught and didn’t I have the decency to take her, Beth, and the girls there?

Do you know that until her health failed she kept me up to date on so many of my former parishioners. Thanks to Ann, I have prayed without fanfare knowing that God is far better at bearing them up than a noisy/nosey note from me could ever be. She sometime wondered that I did not make the rounds when visiting the region and I explained that I thought little of ministers who did not know how to ‘move on’. Ann seemed to accept that but she ensured that the former congregation was not forgotten to me. Thanks to Ann I have prayed when I heard of their afflictions, considered their grief as my own when they suffered loss. And, thanks to Ann, I celebrated when their news was a joy.

When we moved to Port Wentworth I knew little of the history of that place. It lacked the fine verandahs that line private gardens of old Savannah. It was blocked from any scenic views of the river by pulp mill, sugar refinery, and shipyard. The single most significant non-industrial structure in town was the conglomeration of buildings known collectively as ‘the projects’. What drew us there was not the beauty of the place but the call of God; what kept us there were people of character, people like Ann.

That’s what I most remember and cherish; I remember her character. She was not simply “a character” she had character; She defined character. These days I spend much of my time working with scouting. I talk with my boys about character and how a scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent. By my count Ann Fearon had that kind of character. Could Ann be trusted? Was she loyal and helpful? Was she perfect? Ann was being perfected as are we all.

Someone once wrote that a pastor needs four kinds of friends. One type the writer described was “the disturber’. Deuteronomy 32:11 describes an eagle whose chore is to disturb her eaglets and compel them to take to the air. She disturbs the soft down that lines the nest and exposes the broken fragments of bones and thorns, and in the discomfort of her young she prepares them. “Like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them on its pinions.” Ann was the friend who was unafraid to make things “a bit pointy”. She was determined to challenge me. When we left that place she warned me, and I think there was a tear in her eye, “Don’t leave the ministry, you will lose your faith.” I have not left the ministry though it has a shape far different than the one I imagined it might have these eighteen years later. But, no, I have not left the ministry Ann.

So for those who knew her and to those who may well wish they had I offer these words:
Into an un-ending future, to a time beyond time where the God of Eternity reigns is our Ann gone. To the Everlasting God whose kingdom knows no end, to the Savior whose blood was spilt for the least worthy among us, to the Spirit whose fiery breath purges our souls of contempt I give thanks. Ah Great God, in your house, at your table, in Your presence there sit an ever growing number of those whom we love. In your timeless mansion keep a setting at the table for us and keep in our hearts the reminders of their tenderness and your grace.
I think even now, if I listen, I hear the echoes of her laughter and the quiet giggle of another old friend. 

It is the certainty of their peace that helps us bear the longing that fills our hearts in their absence.

Note: The image of the Savannah Wildlife Refuge is from a Flickr photo stream: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dizzygirl/

Written by David Wilkerson

6 February 2012 at 8:23 pm

Posted in death, grace, hope

A Sermon to Wake the Dead

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The words, “Lazarus, come forth”, move me. There are other phrases, scents, and sounds that stir me as well but these words re-kindle a deep seated urge to stand up and demand a hearing. It has been seventeen long years since I began a self imposed exile from the pulpit; I retired. That’s not to say I have not had an occasional visit and, at the time the estrangement began, I imagined it would only be temporary. Each visit has seemed like an encounter with an old friend; a visit in which the months or years between disappear and the friendship is fresh. Alas, despite the durability of the relationship, the visits have been rare and the exile seems to be permanent. Yet, ever do I have preaching on my mind.

Written by David Wilkerson

23 November 2011 at 10:24 am

Posted in grace

Wet Water

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None who know me will be surprised when I admit I have done many foolish things. Once I rode a bicycle across a high exposed ridge in driving rain, deafened by thunder and hounded by lightening with a lust for more than bare rock and scattered trees.

The occasion for today’s commentary was my advice to a bride not to be nervous. Perhaps not the most foolish thing I have done but certainly one of the least effective. On that occasion, during the course of some correspondence, the bride observed that she simply could not stop being nervous even though I had suggested she do so. I might as well have attempted to command the tide stop, the moon rise, or my wife to do my bidding; each are utterly impossible.

In retrospect I realize how silly it is to tell anyone who is nervous not to be. It is, I think, like telling water not to be wet. This is especially true for people caught up in major life events like weddings, funerals, and high school reunions.

Written by David Wilkerson

10 January 2010 at 8:59 pm

Balancing the Books

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When God made Mr. Harold Dempsey’s face he used silly putty. Harold’s face consisted of one rolling wrinkle after another. Shaking his head, we watched; a classroom of  fascinated boys. His heavy jowls waved in counterpoint as he uttered a familiar declaration, “Boys, I would rather God ‘took a mill stone and tied it about my neck’ than to cause you any harm.
I couldn’t imagine what possible harm he might do. Could he infect us and reduce our faces to a similarly drooping state?
“Now boys,” his eyes drooped joining the general sag of his cheeks, “you are innocent today. But someday you won’t be.”Remembering his words today they seem more coherent than they did to my ten year old ears. Innocence was something Perry Mason dealt with. You couldn’t be innocent of something until you were accused of something and, apart from repeatedly misplacing my father’s tools I was clear of all charges.I wanted to move on. Any distraction from the looming lecture would do. Perhaps we could divert his attention to one of the pictures in our illustrated King James bibles. One favorite was Moses with what looked like fresh baked loaves in his arms. Even though lunch was still a few hours away I could look at the picture and smell the bread. Heck I could taste the melted butter and grape jelly.
Yep, it would have been fine with me if we had moved straight ahead to one of those pictures but it was revival season and Mr. Dempsey was duty bound to press his point. “Yes sir, boys, you may be innocent today but soon, maybe sooner than you think, you are going to have to explain yourselves to God.”
By this point I was probably investigating the picture where Delilah was cutting off Sampson’s hair. There was something about Delilah that I couldn’t figure out. And it started near her neckline and I was making progress when Mr. Dempsey’s next words pulled me back to the classroom.“Boy’s! if you don’t give your hearts to Jesus… well I don’t know how else to say it… if you don’t you’re goin’ straight to hell.” There was something about the phrase “straight to hell” that disturbed my “intense” examination of Delilah. I jerked my head up, the bible fell to the floor and Mr. Dempsey looked at my glowing red face.His next remark was a cinematic event. “Well, that’s something you don’t have to worry about… ” the lighting shifted, silence surrounded us and his baritone shifted to bass. He continued, “’til you reach the-age-of-accountability.”Ah, “the-age-of-accountability”, I didn’t know what it was but it was clearly associated with hell. Not that I knew a lot about hell either. I must have known enough. I wouldn’t eat deviled eggs because they were, well, Devil-ed. And I certainly didn’t want to go to hell by any road, curvy or straight.Maybe “the-age-of-accountability” was like ear wax or tooth decay. Maybe it was something that could be avoided, or if encountered, could be undone. Avoided. Undone. If only the weight of our failures could be so easily remedied.Somewhere in my growing up “the-age-of-accountability” snuck up on me. Mr. Dempsey’s warning seemed opaque when I was ten. Now, having begun what is likely the last third of my life, I find myself accountable. I do not fear hell but I recognize that an answer is due. I must account for things done.Even more, though, I must account for things not done. Sartre once suggested that hell is other people. I can’t say I know his hell. The one I know consists of undone kindnesses, unexpressed grace, unstated affection, under appreciated love. This is a hell I know well. It is for these that I can offer no reasonable accounting. It is from this hell that I most deeply yearn for deliverance. 

Written by David Wilkerson

6 January 2008 at 7:59 pm

Posted in grace, hope, theology

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