Thursday, December 6, 2018

"I Remember He Was Tall"

Our young family, ca. 1992, was given tickets through a Congressional office for a White House tour.  I'm a native Washingtonian, but had never been in the presidential mansion.  This was not not a tour opened to the general public where you stand in line and buy tickets (do they still do that?), but a bit more lengthy and comprehensive.  Our guide was a Secret Service agent.  My kids were all in elementary school and George H. W. Bush was President.  #41.

At one point in the tour we went through a room with garage doors.  It was just to get from point A to point B in the tour.  Our guide, with a bit of a surprised look gathered the group - maybe a dozen of us total, and had us stop.  Suddenly another door opened and in walked several Secret Service agents with President Bush.

Clearly, they were a bit surprised to see us in that room, and wanted to hurry him past us to get him outside and into his awaiting vehicle.  But, he would have none of that.  He walked around to us, greeted us and expressed that he hoped we were enjoying the tour while shaking hands.

I leaned down to my kids and said, "He's the President."

Gail remembers, "some men in suits coming down the steps and making a path. Followed by more men in suits, I was starting to wonder what was happening. Then I saw President Bush in the middle of all the men. He stood out because he was taller than the others, a big smile, and we all gasped, we just weren't expecting to see him. Then he stopped to greet some in our tour group. I was holding Rachel's hand, picked her up so she could see him (then later explain who he was). I think that he would have shaken everyone's hand if he was not being encouraged to move along by all the men. Then he was gone and we were all so excited that we got to see our President!"

My son Nathan, who is our oldest and would have been about eleven at the time says, "We were walking down a hall. I was near the front of the group and didn’t know who it was until he was past me. He shook hands with people behind me.  I remember he was tall."

It all took maybe a minute.  Then he was whisked away to some other location where he was needed, solving, no doubt the country/world's ills.  But, that he would stop to welcome us and shake a few hands said something to me about this kind, gentle man, at the time the most powerful man in the world.  We've heard so much of him the past few days.  I have no problem believing the eulogies.

He was the last of the greatest generation to lead our nation.  Tall, indeed, in many ways.

After President Bush exited, our tour guide looked at us and in amazement said, "That never happens".  I'm glad I was there when it did.

RIP, Mr. President.






Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Searching for Humility

“He must become more important. I must become less important.” - John the Baptist

My years of shepherding Jesus’ flock have continued to prove that the greatest challenge in the life of a disciple is to be selfless. When my walk with the Lord is conditioned on my wants and not His I’m walking alone.

To paraphrase John, “It’s not about me.” He recognized that Jesus was the "lamb of God who takes away the world's sin".  As popular as John was at the time, he knew he was no Jesus. 

No wonder Jesus called him the greatest man ever born.

He got it.  Our innate human nature is not to be humble but to find some reason for human pride; not to be selfless, but to exalt self; not to remove pick up the towel and serve, but to demand to be served. 

And this applies even to the most sincere Christ followers.  Ask Peter.  As the old Pogo cartoon aptly said, "We have met the enemy, and he is us."

I'd like to be more like Jesus' cousin John, although I know he would tell me to look, not at him, but at Jesus.  What better time of year to do so than when we remember that the Almighty willingly chose to not only become human, but to do so as a baby in a poor family whose first cradle was a manger.

 [Jesus Christ],  who, existing in the form of God,  
      did not consider equality with God 
      as something to be used for His own advantage. 
7      Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, 
      taking on the likeness of men. 
      And when He had come as a man in His external form, 
8      He humbled Himself by becoming obedient
      to the point of deatheven to death on across.
Philippians 2:6-8 (HCSB)