June 6th, 2019
"Known By The Scars"
From: "The Walk: The Life-Changing Journey of Two Friends"
Therefore, since we have this ministry because we were shown mercy, we do not give up.....For God who said, "Let light shine out of the darkness," has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of God's glory in the face of Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 4:1, 6
After Bill and Brenda decided to move to Franklin, some of his students at Seattle Pacific University proposed a "commissioning service" (rather than a retirement party) for them both as a way to properly send them off to a new arena of ministry. By the Lord's timing, I had a concert in Seattle the day before and secretly planned to stay over in order to attend the event.
I spent the day before the concert following Bill around campus, enjoying being in his considerable shadow once again. We boxed up a few remaining books in his office to prepare for the move. Every book he pulled off the shelf elicited the statement, "Now here is an important volume!" Needless to say, it took twice the time to box up books if he was around!
This particular day was also his last day of class. As we drove to the university that morning, we both realized that this was, in fact, his final day to teach on a university campus. Needless to say, Bill was nostalgic at the notion of it. And I felt it a tremendous privilege to be with him on that somber morning. There was, understandably, an air of deep sadness as we drove home later that afternoon.
"I feel as if I have not accomplished all that the Lord had for me to do," he mused. He had not finished his "magnum opus," a book on Paul and task theology. Indeed, he would never finish it. He had an obligation to write a commentary on 2 Corinthians, which he was beginning to realize he might not complete as well. The disease, with all its tiredness and aches, was catching up to him, even though he still had more than a year of quality life ahead of him.
I reminded him of one of his favorite sayings, one that he had framed on the wall of his office. Forty years earlier one of his mentors had told him, "When the Lord looks me over, He will not judge me by the degrees I have earned or the awards I have won, but by the scars I have incurred."
That phrase - "the scars I have incurred" - played over and over in my mind as we drove back to his house. I had the feeling of escorting a warrior who was familiar with the scars and tears of the battlefield.