Monday, March 13, 2017

Lenten Thoughts: Wear it Till it Fits!


photo by MHS Wildcat / flickr



As I move through Lent--for some reason I remember a story that I heard once from the President of Princeton Seminary. It seems that David Hubbard who was then President of Fuller Seminary told of an incident that really happened in his life. Dr. Hubbard was given a tee shirt one day by Tom Landry who was then Coach of the Dallas Cowboys. It was a big shirt and emblazoned across the front in large letters it read: "Dallas Çowboys." The next day one of Tom Landry's scouts took Dr. Hubbard to play a round of golf. He wore the big tee shirt. The caddy kept looking at Hubbard's tee shirt. Hubbard was not a young man but the caddy asked, "Do you play for the Dallas Cowboys?" Dr. Hubbard laughed and said, "No. I don't play for the Çowboys." The caddy said: "I would give anything in the world to play for the Dallas Cowboys." Dr. Hubbard said, "Why don't you talk to this man here. He's one of the scouts." So they talked about what was involved as the game moved on. When they finished Dr. Hubbard turned to the scout and said, "I think I'm going to give him my tee shirt tp the caddy--but it looks awful big." It was Extra-extra large. So he turned to the caddy and said, "You know I would give you my tee shirt but I don't think it would fit. It's too big." The caddy said, "Mister,  give it to me. I'll wear it till it fits."

Wear it till it fits. Hmm. I love that story. All my life I have been following the Lord Jesus mostly. Like everyone else--like Thomas in the Bible--I believe and sometimes I don't believe. Even after all these years the tee shirt still doesn't fit. No wonder there has been a lump in my throat when I've sung: "Prone to wander, Lord--Prone to leave the God I love." Because faith, for me,  like those
photo by Ryan Woolies/ flickr
Israelites has been for me an up and down thing. I've asked over the too-muchness of my life or somebody else's--the old question: "Why, Lord why?" And I've pulled off the too-big tee shirt and cast it aside. Why the wrong headedness of Trump? Why that war in Afghanistan seems to be an unending war? Why all those Syrians keep fleeing with nothing but a little sack they could carry--while I sit here in a house of too many rooms and more than I will ever need? I remember Annie Dillard asking Paul's question: "O death where is thy sting--O grave where is thy victory? " And a friend answered, "Honey,  just about everywhere." Yep--that's true. Just about everywhere. And my faith flickers like the stub-end of a candle.

And then I stumble into church and it's Communion Sunday. And as the people row by row stand in line to receive the Bread and the Cup--I know so many of them. Some of them have faced unbearable problems. Suicides. ALS. Losing their best friend with Alzheimer's. Bankruptcies. Cancer. Cancer. Cancer. Or just hobbling down the aisle on a cane--him and her--leaning on each other. And I feel the tears. Why do they keep coming here after all they have been through? Surely it isn't what the atheist's say--wishful thinking. No. They have found something that have kept them going. And all over again I look for the tee-shirt and put it on. God knows it still doesn't fit. But this Lent I will keep hoping that maybe, just maybe one day it might not be so big.

And so, like all the others I get up out of my seat and stand in line, too. Hoping as I take that tiny piece of bread and baptize it in the cup--maybe I'll be able once again to sing the rest of the old song: "Here' s my heart, Lord, take and seal it, Seal it for Thy courts above." And this--the third week  in Lent--this is what I am thinking of. Fitting. Failure. Hope.


photo by George Martel / flickr

--Roger Lovette / rogerlovette.blogspot.com

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