Bye Babe…and Thanks!
Last Saturday, Jeannie and I cradled our Beagle, Babe, in our arms and said goodbye to our “little big heart” and faithful companion of fifteen years. Even Babe’s big heart was no match for the illness that had invaded her small body during the past months. No need for details here, but yes, grown men cry. The last time we went through this experience our vet sent us a sympathy card. I wrote him back and told him that, for what he’d charged me over the years, I deserved free grief counseling.
Babe was a lover and a teacher. Some of you may have read, or heard of lessons I’ve learned from Babe over the years. So as a tribute, I thought I’d share the one lesson I count as the most valuable; a hard lesson, but the one Babe (and the Lord) knew I most needed to learn.
It happened in the early days in my role as IMB president. After a night of fitful sleep, I arose early, dressed appropriately and decided to head down to our Monument Avenue headquarters. I wanted to spend time in the prayer room we’d fashioned as part of my office.
Of course, before leaving our new neighborhood it was important for me to take Babe on her “morning walk.” Wanting to be a good citizen, I tucked a plastic sack in the pocket of my slacks. (Need I say more?). So there I was, dutifully following behind our dog who was tugging at the leash, eager to explore her new surroundings. At least that was part of the agenda.
“This is a fine how do you do,” I mused, as I stooped to the ground, sack in hand. “Here I am, president of IMB, the world’s major evangelical mission organization, picking up after a dog.” I will always believe the next conversation was not only audible, but loud enough to awaken my neighbors.
“Oh quit complaining,” said the Lord. It sounded like He was laughing. “You’re not such a big shot! I am God! Yet I stooped to earth for you! And I’ve been picking up after you for years!
I literally stopped, stood up and looked around to see if anyone else was in ear shot. And it was as a humbled man that I fell on my knees at the altar in my prayer room that morning. I knew I had experienced an unusual encounter with the Lord. I would never see the Lord, IMB, or my role, in the same light again. It was exactly the lesson I needed at that very point in my life, and a lesson I hope never to forget.
“Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus Who, although in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, So that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:5-10).
Thank you Jesus! (And thank you, Babe).
2 Tim 1:12