Sunday, May 25, 2008

Mrs. Williams, The blind woman, Rose, and Gene Part I

These mentioned above are teachers. A small group of ones I was privileged to sit under. There are more. In fact, I could write for the rest of my days about this one topic-teachers. You have heard the saying we do not remember who won the World Series in 1966 off the top of our head, but we tend to remember the names of teachers whose lives made an impact on ours.
Betty Williams was elderly when I first met her in the mid-1970's I was a precocious high school student, eager to please, eager to know the answers to all my questions and desperate not to fear death. Mrs. Williams, I called her, wielded the Scripture as a sword. Even so, she was a compassionate soldier whose aim was to get out of the way and let the Holy Spirit teach. A former high school English teacher, she took great pains to address the grammatical structure of the narrartive. She focused on verbs attributed to God's actions as we started a study of Genesis in the 9th grade, and by the fall of my senior year in high school, we were in the 5th chapter of Genesis. You might presume this slow study to have been boring. Nothing could be further from the truth. She brought her fallen self to the den in which we met Sunday afternoons, pointing us (about 10-12 high school students) to the efficiacy of the Gospel. It was not uncommon for her to regale us with the admonition: "God doesn't want my dark old heart, he wants all of me, he doesn't want your dark heart either, he wants all of you. " Or this: Plug up your ears if someone insists you have a good heart; you don't have a good heart; your heart is dark just like mine, it is intent on having its own way, and only the Lord can harrow our hearts into submission, only he and he alone".
I fondly recall these kernels of truth and give thanks to our gracious God for setting up the circumstances through my parents wisdom and choices, and Betty's bold instruction. My guess is Bible teachers are reluctant to teach the doctrine of sin.
This is a grave pity, for there is no other Gospel save we are sinners in need of a Savior and Jesus took our place. If I cannot acknowledge my sin, I will not worship the God who pursued me while I was yet his enemy. I'll keep seeking what's best for Wallace. This is one of those circuitous truths, If I do not worship him as Lord, I will not turn from sin. Strangely, though, even if I never turn from sin, even if I remain in death and were bound to hell due to my own iron will, his perfect will is that none perish. He always loves; his property is always to have mercy. Ours is but to receive it. Mrs. Williams taught that too, the sweetness of mercy fastened to hard truth. Even as she read us the indictment, she brought the good news; our lives were spared-we had but to thank the Father and receive the gift . Mrs. Williams heralded that Christ's exclusive gift is not just that he died for us, but that he conquered sin and death by rising as he said he would.

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