Thursday, December 24, 2009

Ray of Hope

Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again.This commandment have I received of my Father. John 10:17,18

“There are people hidden all over the place” Glen once old me,”Some of them are so hidden away it’s like only God knows where they are.” But Glen knew of a lot of people, often alone, and if they would have him, he would visit them and teach from his Bible to the best of his ability.

One Wednesday, he drove to a highrise for the handicapped and elderly. It was on the edge of town and was sixteen stories high. A crowd had gathered near the side entrance Glen liked to use. A cruiser was there and a policeman stood guard over a corpse covered by a tarp. An old man had gone off a balcony from the twelfth floor, a suicide people said. “He had health problems and he couldn’t take it any more”, said someone who knew him. Children pressed closer, scared but curious, hoping to see something that they could tell to their friends. A boy, about eight, stepped closer. He had an orange popsicle in his hand.

The cop saw him edging closer. “You wanna see?” He reached down as if he was going to raise the tarp. The little boy’s eyes widened and he shook his head to say no.

“Then please get back, everybody,” said the cop. “This is a terrible thing, you don’t want to look at this.” He waved his arm around the alcove where the man had hit. His corpse was covered, but spattered blood was on the gray concrete where he had hit and on the walls of the building.

Glen went through the side entrance and to the elevator. He pressed the button for floor twelve. Today was the day he visited with Ray and Bessie. With Bessie, really, as Ray didn’t care to join them. He walked to the end of the carpeted hall and used the door knocker. Bessie opened the door and motioned for him to step into their little sitting room. She was a small, plump woman with a round face. Her hair was pulled back into a bun. There was a look of deep concern in her brown eyes.

Glen sat with her, but said nothing. Bessie looked at him intently, “I was down on the first floor” she told him, almost in a whisper. “We heard it, like the sound of a collision, that’s what we thought it was, a car. Then when someone told us it was a man who had climbed over to jump.

The first thing I thought, was, what if it was Ray! I realized he couldn’t get out of his wheelchair, but that’s what I thought, just for a minute. How horrible for him to die and not be a believer.” Bessie leaned over to Glen, “Ray is a real he-man type. He was in construction. You wouldn’t know it now, but he was a powerful man when he was young.”

Glen took it all in, but said nothing. Bessie put her hand on Glen’s arm. “Ray said he can’t believe in Jesus, he thinks Jesus was a sissy!” Glen could see that Bessie hated to say this. But he had heard it many times before. He had grown up in a church where Jesus was presented in just this way. He told me once,”The Powers that Be” want you to believe Jesus was weak, and they want you to be the same way, so they can boss you around and rule over you. But the hardest thing for Jesus to do, was to hold back His power and take a beating and execution for you and me.”

Glen once said the hardest thing for him was self control, or it had been. He once told me, “If I had the power Jesus had, I don’t think I could have held back, I know I couldn’t. One day it hit me” Glen told me. “The hardest thing, and the greatest thing, was what Jesus did not do. If He had used his power and not let them take him, we would all die in our sins and lose eternal life.”

It was then that I learned a secret about Glen. That old fighter was imitating Jesus, by not doing the mean thing, when he could, and by learning patience, and Glen was patient.

As they rose to go to the kitchen, Bessie touched Glen’s wrist, “I just thought I would tell you” she said.

Glen seated himself at the little wooden kitchen table. It had red flowers stenciled on it was trimmed in red. On the wall was a crocheted cross. Sunlight lit up the table as Glen opened his Bible.

Bessie stood at the doorway talking to Ray. “Don’t you want to join us, honey? Come on and sit with us.” She wheeled his chair into the kitchen. It was a big heavy chair with a rack to hold his oxygen tank. Glen got up to welcome him, but Ray waved him down. Glen looked at his long arms and legs, he had big hands, but now his body was thin and sagging. He was friendly enough, but had a look of detachment, as if he would rather be somewhere else if he only had the opportunity.

Glen began his lesson for the day. “Jesus is often presented as a kind man, with lots of good intentions, doing kind deeds and so forth, until his luck ran out and the authorities killed him. But the words of Jesus and his life teaches us just the opposite.

Ray listened, but gave no clues as to what he was thinking as Glen continued, “There are two forces at work in the world today. One is the present administrator of the world system, Satan, the devil, once known as Lucifer. He runs the world and owns its kingdoms and their glory. Mankind turned to the devil in the Garden over six thousand years ago and in so doing we turned away from God. God permitted this, but promised our mother, Eve, that one of her sons, would crush the devil’s head under his heel. Thousands of years went by, the devil running the world pretty much like he wanted to, with God setting the limits, like in the book of Job. When evil became too extensive, God intervened with the flood, only eight people surviving it. Then came that wonderful day when God entered the devil’s world to win His people back from the devil.

Glen read from his Bible: But when the fulness of the times was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, Galatians 4:4

Here is the son of Eve, that God promised her, oh so long ago, would crush the serpent’s head. This was planned in eternity, but is being worked out in time. God lives in eternity, we live in time, but God knew what the devil would do and had His remedy ready when the time was fully come. Jesus came to engage in the strangest combat you ever heard of”, Glen continued. “And here is why He came:”

For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. 1 John 3:8

Jesus fought the battle to buy us back from the devil using the devil’s own weapon, the cross. By giving His blood He bought us back, out of the devil’s hands. But to give His blood he had to allow himself to be slaughtered. He fulfilled the feast of atonement by giving himself as the lamb of sacrifice. Any attempt to kill Jesus before the day of his slaughtering was impossible, and there were attempts.
Let’s read about one of those threats and how Jesus stood up to it. It’s in the Gospel of Luke chapter thirteen.”

The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying unto him, Get thee out, and depart hence: for Herod will kill thee. Luke 13:31

Glen looked over at Ray, “The religious authorities, who later would have Jesus killed, by lying about him, threaten Jesus, and warn him that King Herod will kill him. Now let’s hear how Jesus answered them.”

And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected. Luke 13:32

Ray smiled “That fox!”, he said to himself

Glen concluded his little session, knowing that people get tired. “Don’t try to go too long.” he once told me. Glen arose from his chair and started for the front door. Bessie wheeled Ray to his room. “Is he coming back?” he asked.

“Yes, he’s coming back” she replied.

“Good” Ray said “I want to hear more stories about Jesus.”

Bessie looked at him in surprize, “Oh yeah, since when!”

But you could tell she was pleased.

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