Thursday, December 11, 2014

Advent 2014

Thursday, December 11


"The world will never be the same once you've seen it through the eyes of Forrest Gump."  This is the tagline for the movie Forrest Gump.

Despite the fact that it was repeatedly thrown in his face, Forrest, quite aware that - "I'm not a smart man" - seems to "see" the world with a pure heart, a quality I long for.  I realize that I am most likely "reading" more into the symbolism it is meant to portray, but along with the plain, unsophisticated, simple-minded innocence of Forrest, is the gently floating white feather.  I can't help but see in this the humble coming of the Holy Spirit into our desperate world as the White Dove of Innocence.

Our destination as children of God is quite clear:  it is to home that we aim.  We are being called back to the garden.  Our Heavenly Father quite obviously "sees" our world through the eyes of a most loving parent, and through His heart, sees the tough and troublesome road we travel in this life.

It is along this pilgrimage that we are given spiritual parents, guides and mentors for encouragement.  In my life, there have been many who have helped shape and direct my journey.  In the early years there was Brown, whom I wrote about in the 2011 Advent booklet, Rev. John Tippett, my first and longtime Baptist pastor of the old Calvary Baptist Temple and former President of the Georgia Baptist Convention, and the steadfast counsel of Leland Lanier, a spiritual patriarch one would be fortunate to have.  Also, there have been those that have traveled the path of Christ long ago.  Among those whose direction I so prize are John Bunyan, who taught me to be a pilgrim, Thomas à Kempis, who helped me to talk with God, and Frederick Buechner, who reached the inner cave of my heart.  They and others would counsel, "Stay close to Jesus."

In his novel, Godric, a story of sin, spiritual yearning, rebirth and fierce asceticism,  Buechner retells the life of Godric of Finchale, a twelfth-century English holy man whose course included that of purifying his mortal ambition of pride.  From the chapter, "How Godric Left Home:"


Aedlward, my father, was sitting by the fire.  He did not rise.  He only raised one hand, then spoke the only word of all the words he ever spoke to me that I remember as his. "You'll have your way, Godric," he said, and to this day that word he spoke and that raised hand are stitched together in my mind.

I believe my way went from that hand as a path goes from a door, and though many a mile that way has led me since, with many a turn and cross-road in between, if ever I should trace it back, it's to my father's hand that it would lead.


It is my name I see in my Heavenly Father's words - "You'll have your way, Jim," and, it is back to His hand I travel.


By the way, something you probably don't know is that my momma's old 1965 Ford Galaxy was almost in the movie.  Yep, the production crew spotted the car and offered her several hundred dollars simply to let them park it along Chippewa Square because it would be a good "fit" in the background scene.  Well, my momma, being my momma, said, "no," because she might have to go to the grocery store.  So much for fame and riches!  I really didn't want to go to Hollywood anyway.

- Jim Flanagan


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