Happy, Happy 4th of July, my friends!
Ray and I both admired a wonderful professor he had while he was in graduate school. He was the oldest professor on campus and was filled with wisdom and knowledge of God’s Word.
I had left a job in urban planning in Lexington before we moved to Memphis for Ray to enter graduate school. Planning jobs were few and far between that summer of 1977. I found one temporary contract job in planning. After that ran out in a month, I worked in the media center for the College of Education at what was then Memphis State University. That means I made handouts and copies of tests for professors, using a mimeograph machine; a gigantic first-class Xerox machine that was so expensive to operate, professors had a limited allotment of copies they they could make it; and the Gestetner. The Gestetner was cutting edge –literally. I typed tests on green stencils. The typewriter keys cut into the stencil. I poured a rather-thick black ink into the machine and then attached the stencil to the machine’s drum. The drum spun around and made copies by oozing the black ink through the holes in the stencil that the typewriter keys cut. It was a one-woman shop.
When we first came to town, I had no job at all. Dr. West learned that somehow and offered for me to work in his tiny, book-filled office temporarily. I was in awe of this learned man. How kind he was to make sure that we had a little income.
Ray recently remembered a verse from a poem that Dr. West quoted often in the classes Ray took with him. Ray sent the verse to me, thinking that I might want to share it with you.
I know that we all have wondering thoughts as we prepare to celebrate Independence Day tomorrow. Bear with me now. This quote is pretty heady. Ray said he tried to read the rest of the poem (The Present Crisis by James Russell Lowell) one time and wasn’t sure he quite got it.
While I was writing this, Ray walked by and said, “There’s always been a present crisis.” He’s right, you know. Keep that in mind. Knowing history teaches you that. History also teaches that present crises don’t last forever.
Careless seems the great Avenger; history’s pages but record
One death-grapple in the darkness ‘twixt old systems and the Word;
Truth forever on the scaffold, Wrong forever on the throne,—
Yet that scaffold sways the future, and, behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above his own.
Rest easy and enjoy the weekend. Truth sways the future. God is standing in the shadow, keeping watch above His own.
The Lord has established His throne in the heavens,
And His sovereignty rules over all.