10 January 2024 Anno domini, the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide


“Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? 2For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. 3He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” Isaiah 53:1-3 (KJV)

The great beauty of the Tabernacle in the Wilderness was not owing to the austere plain and unbecoming goat-hair that covered its outer structure, but rather to the absolute majesty of its interior furnishing of gold plate, silk, and wool of divine colors. It was designed to impart the nature of Christ and the Christian believer. To the world, Christ had nothing to highly commend Him in appearance. Neither does the Christian life appear beautiful in the eyes of the world. But the inner beauty – that which the eye cannot see – is what makes that life beautiful as well as the life of its Redeemer. Real life is often appareled in rags, but behind those rags beats a beautiful heart.

When I was a young man, my wife and I lived for many years in a desert place. It was considered to be a high desert country that lacked much to recommend it to the human eye. But the days were mostly sunny, and the greater beauty of the place emerged at night as the sky drew dim and the stars appeared in utter brilliance against a purple sky. The air was pristine, the inhabitants generally poor, but good and honest.

One day, a friend gave me what he called a very special book as a birthday present. I wondered what kind of book it could be. As I removed the gift wrappings, I discovered a soiled and tattered book that seemed to come from an American Good Will store. I acted impressed, but must admit of my disappointment. The title of the book seemed pretentious to its appearance – The Story of San Michel, by a Swedish doctor named Axel Munthé – a 1928 Time-Life series book. The book lay on my desk for several months until one day, I picked it up and read the first chapter, and the second, and the third, and so forth until I had read the entire novel. It was totally absorbing with true accounts of the doctor’s experiences among the sick and poor of Italy following a breakout of cholera there. The stories were so full of human love and feeling that I could not have put it down.

I learned a spiritual lesson about judging a book by its cover from that experience. I also learned a similar experience as a young man of eighteen years of age. I had my first date with a really pretty cheerleader to attend a high school basketball game in a small mountain town in Tennessee. I borrowed my mother’s car since most young people in those days did not own a car. We drove from Chattanooga on the way to McHatesville along a lonely deserted two-lane highway. On one side were tall mountains, and on the other, a wide body of water that reflected the soft light of the moon. It was an eerie experience.

About midway on that deserted road, I had a flat tire. When I opened the trunk to get the spare, I discovered it was missing. My mom had left it at a filling station (as they were called in those days) for repair the day before. I was bewildered. I turned the hazard lights on flash and hoped someone would come along to help. After perhaps ten minutes, I saw the lights of a pickup truck approaching. There were three hunters in the truck. They were attorneys from Chattanooga and had been hunting deer in the mountains the past three days. I explained to them our predicament and offered $20 (a good sum in 1962) if they would take me the twenty remaining miles to McHayesville to get the tire fixed. They declined since they had been away from home for three days and left us alone.

I must admit that I did some praying that the Lord would send another prospect. This He did do, and when I beheld the appearance of the two men who stopped, I wished that He had sent someone else. They were dirty, big, unshaven and had long side-burns which were not fashionable in those days. They roughly asked me what was the matter. When I told them, and offered to pay $20, they looked at each other and said, “Get in!’ I then asked if I could take my date since I feared to leave her alone on the deserted road. They said, “Tell her to get in, too.” I worried that they might kill me and abuse my date, but I stopped worrying about that as they drove at such high speed around the mountain curves. Finally, we found a filling station at which they took my tire out and got it repaired. They PAID for it and bought me and my date a coke. On returning to my car, they put the tire on and I offered them my $20. Their response was unexpected. They replied, “No, son. You keep your money. If you find someone who needs help sometime, your help will be our pay.”

These two men worked on the railroad and had been away from home for one month and were returning home for the weekend, yet they took the time to help two kids on a lonely highway. The lesson they taught me has lasted my long lifetime. You simply cannot judge a book by its cover, and only God can know the human heart. The Bible, too, is usually a common black, but is filled with nuggets of living gold.

By |2024-01-15T19:57:22+00:00January 15th, 2024|Blog|Comments Off on THE UNCOMELY BOOK

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