What Others Say

"Thank you for the words of wisdom in today’s Abilene Reporter News. In the midst of wars violence and pandemics, your words were so soft spoken and calming."

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

You Can't Take It With You

Our 48-year-old son has entered the theater, in Belle Fourche, SD, a small town near Sturgis that claims to be the geographic center of the US.  He is keeping his day job. A few years ago, his entire family, including our daughter-in-law and three grandchildren took part in performing Beauty and the Beast, a hilarious and fun performance.  Next month, he and our granddaughter will perform in You Can’t Take It With You, a comedy that exposes the vanity of pursuing wealth and power instead of building friendships and family. We will be in the audience!

 The movie version appeared in 1938 starring James Stewart and Lionel Barrymore. Stewart played the son of a wealthy mogul who will stop at nothing to build his financial empire. The son falls in love with his stenographer, a young woman from the other side of the tracks. Of course, in the end, the wealthy snobs get their comeuppance. A few years later Stewart and Barrymore teamed up again in the 1948 classic It’s a Wonderful Life as George Bailey and Mr. Potter, another film that exalts the value of friendship and family over the pursuit of money and power.

 Perhaps these two plays reflect the values learned by the generation that endured the Great Depression and WW II.   It is a lesson every generation must learn. One we must learn again in these inflationary post-Covid times. Life is more than the sum of our possessions. Relationships, family, friends and faith are the true treasures to be prized.

 Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and thieves break through and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven where neither moth nor rust destroys, and thieves do not break in and steal,” (Matthew 6:19).

 And again, “He said to them, ‘Beware and be on your guard against every form of greed, for not even when one is affluent does his life consist of his possessions. And He told them a parable, saying, ‘The lans of a rich man was very productive. And he began thinking to himself saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘This I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and I will store my grain and all my goods there.’ And I will say to myself, “You have many good stored up for many years to come. Relax, eat, drink and enjoy yourself!” But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is demanded of you; and as for all you have prepared, who will own it now?’ Such is the one who stores up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God,” (Luke 12:15-21).

 I have lived long enough to know.  I have seen the treasures of youth rusting away in mildewed barns and rotting in dusty attics.  I have watched the wealthy store up vast fortunes only to end their days in loneliness, their estates tied up in bitter lawsuits.  And, by contrast, I have the seen the poor surrounded by family and friends in their old age. The saying is true, “You can’t take it with you.” 

Bill's book, We Beheld His Glory is free as an eBook on Amazon August 9-13.  

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Weddings and Marriage

 Last week our 19-year-old grandson came to visit so he could participate in his best friend’s wedding.  Weddings are exciting: handsome groomsmen lined up in their tuxedos, the groom nervously looking for his bride, bridesmaids in matching dresses, the flower girl and ring bearer announcing the bride’s entrance, and then, the bride, adorned for her husband. All of this followed by a reception: good food, joyful singing, and dancing.  Weddings are an important passage for every generation as they come of age.  .

 The only public event we attended during the height of Covid in 2020 was the wedding for our young neighbors across the street. We watched them meet, date, fall in love and exchange their vows in a local church. That was two years ago. Now they come to visit bringing scones and their 4-month-old baby, Charlie.

 Weddings are events.  They can be planned, staged, and often cost tens of thousands of dollars.  Marriages, on the other hand, are lifelong relationships that take time, effort, struggle, sacrifice, love and forgiveness, things that money cannot buy.  We all want marriage to work.  We all wish every marriage would live up to the thrill of the weddings in which they were formed. No one really knows what goes on in a marriage except the husband and wife who share the marriage bond.  Some marriages appear strong and stable to the public eye but are inwardly crumbling. 

 Last year my wife and I celebrated our fifty-third anniversary.  I remember how she appeared beneath her wedding veil at the altar, the tear that formed in her eye when we exchanged our vows. She was nineteen.  Some images in the brain never fade.  Even though the years have aged us both, her nineteen-year-old beauty remains whenever I look at her.

 We were na├»ve.  We had far more to learn than either of us knew.  I think it took the first ten years to begin to understand who she really is, and I am still learning. Along the way, she helped me discover who I am. 

 Our marriage has had its celebrations and its sorrows.  We have celebrated the birth of three children and six grandchildren, and we have wept at the graves of our parents.  We have known exhilaration and depression, achievement and disappointment. We have traveled the world together and built a home. She nursed me to health after my motorcycle wreck.  She is a breast cancer survivor.  

 Throughout the years we have discovered building blocks that make marriage work. The first is faith. It was our faith in God and His son Jesus that brought us together and kept us together. But faith that merely professes to believe in Jesus would not have been enough.  Marriage, more than any other relationship, taught us the importance of living out the things Jesus taught: honesty, trust, respect, humility, confession and forgiveness.  Without these elements faith is empty, especially in marriage. 

 We are still learning the meaning of love and our love is still growing. We are still striving to live out the Bible’s definition: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (1 Cor. 13).