Epistle: Keeping the Sabbath Day Holy


You may remember the theme music for the modestly produced, and enthusiastically received motion picture, Chariots of Fire. I’ve never figured out what the title referred to, but I’ve never forgotten the effect it had on me. Eric Liddell a Scotsman with world dominating athletic abilities and a chance for Olympic glory, facing crushing pressure from his countrymen and king to go for the gold in the 100 meter yet he refuses to compromise his Christian principles and run on Sunday.

The happy ending is, the power figures finally allow him to compete in the 400 meter on another day, and he wins the gold.

We had our own charioteer of fire named Eli Herring. One of America’s premier offensive linemen. On graduation from Brigham Young University he was offered a contract in the pros for one and a half million dollars with probably millions more to come. He turned it down and became a high school math teacher for $22.000 a year. Because he would have to play on Sunday.

Unlike Eric Liddell, there is no happy ending in terms of money or glory to Eli’s story. But twenty plus years later the husband and father of seven is convinced he made the right decision for him. He also stressed he is not passing judgement on what other Christian athletes may choose to do.

Today there is much discussion about how to keep the Sabbath day holy. Some people think Sunday is a day just for fun. They sometimes quote the Prophet Isaiah’s admonition to make the Sabbath “a delight.” Surely it is a good idea to plan and do interesting, good, and yea verily even delightful things on the Sabbath and every other day. But reading the rest of the scripture, it becomes apparent that on the Sabbath our goal should be not to bring delight to ourselves, but joy, and may we even say delight, to our Father in Heaven.

He then will provide us with blessings and joys beyond our expectations. They may not include Olympic gold medals, or millionaire football player salaries, but they will include golden days and memories, and eternal riches beyond our comprehension. In every case no commandment from the Lord we keep will go unrewarded.

Epistle: Scarlet Ribbons and Red Sports Cars

Do you remember the song Scarlet Ribbons about a child who prays for scarlet ribbons, and the sad parent who can’t provide them? But in the morning they miraculously appear on her bed. That’s a lovely old song. With a heartwarming ending.

But what about the times when the scarlet ribbons don’t appear?

That is one of the oldest questions philosophers, theologians and non-believers have wrestled for as long as there have been philosophers, theologians, and non-believers. Who knows how many people have lost their faith when their view of God as a cosmic Santa Clause didn’t come through for them? When we send our grocery list up to heaven, and the bag comes back half full or empty, what then? What about when we pray for things to get better, and they get worse?

Even Job in the Bible famous for his patience cries out as his woes multiply. He finally demands of God why is there such injustice in the world?

The Lord responds in a whirlwind, asking Job, “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?” (Job 38) He follows with other equally difficult questions. Job realizes he is a freshman taking a post graduate level test in eternal principles. Essentially the Lord tells Job, “You can’t even understand the questions much less the answers.”

The saving grace of Job, and all of us, is this declaration, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.” (Job 13:15)

That approach will also get us closer to understanding the apparent uncertainties, injustices, unfulfilled dreams and seemingly unanswered prayers of our lives.

Once we lock into an unshaken faith of the ultimate wisdom and goodness of God; once we take a perspective that continues beyond the grave into eternity then the world makes more sense.

Otherwise, as the song says “If I live to be a hundred, I will ever know from where came those ribbons, lovely ribbons, scarlet ribbons for her hair”

Nor will I know why my prayer didn’t put a new Maserati sports car in my garage. But I trust the Lord had a good reason.

What do you think?
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