Rabid Fun

John Cowart's Daily Journal: A befuddled ordinary Christian looks for spiritual realities in day to day living.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Year’s End — It’s Not As Bad As It Sounds

Note: My internet connection and telephone service has been down since December 28th. But now -- with great wailing and gnashing of teeth -- I'm back on line. jwc 1/2/08

Examining my life over the past year, I see I’ve continued to decline.

The same sins and faults of my youth grow more entrenched. All people mellow or sour as they age.

I ferment more daily.

Often in jest I’ve referred to myself as a dirty old man.

No jest to it.

I harbor bitterness in my heart. As I age, I dwell more and more on slights committed against me years ago and resentment wells up. I hardly ever turn on my computer without being tempted to look at naked ladies on porno sites. I’m often tempted to steal things. Curse words color my speech. Self-will motivates me. And any thoughts of charity grow cold.

As the Bible says about the man freed from one demon only to fall again to seven others, “and the last state of the man is worse than the first”.

For the past couple of months Ginny and I have been reading a short passage from Thomas A’Kempis’ The Imitation Of Christ after supper for our evening devotions.

“Blessed are the single-hearted,” he said, “For they shall enjoy much peace”.

“If every year we would root out one vice, we should soon become perfect men. But now oftentimes we perceive it goeth contrary, and that we were better and purer at the beginning of our entrance into the religious life than after many years of our profession.

“Our fervor and profiting should increase daily; but now it is accounted a great matter if a man can retain but some part of his first zeal”.

But, he observes, it is a hard matter to leave off that to which we are accustomed.

In that same vein, 18th Century London preacher Charles Spugeon said, “The Christian pilgrim having obtained fresh supplies of grace, is as vigorous after years of toilsome travel and struggle as when he first set out.

“He may not be quite so elate and buoyant, nor perhaps quite so hot and hasty in his zeal as he once was, but he is much stronger in all that constitutes real power, and travels, if more slowly, far more surely.

“Some gray-haired veterans have been as firm in their grasp of truth, and as zealous in diffusing it, as they were in their younger days; but, alas, it must be confessed it is often otherwise, for the love of many waxes cold and iniquity abounds, but this is their own sin and not the fault of the promise which still holds good:

"The youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, and they shall walk and not faint."

Spurgeon said, “Let the oldest saint look well to the fundamentals of his piety, for gray heads may cover black hearts”.

I suspect that’s about where I stand as this year 2007 ends.

A sad summary.

Big deal.

King Solomon said, "Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof."

Butterflies are better than caterpillars.

So if I’m feeling wormy at the moment, all I have to do is hang on and await the glorious change which will enable me to fly in the air and drink nectar from flowers.

The whole point of the Christian life is not my progress or lack thereof, but what Christ has done for me.

Nothing I do or fail to do will put Almighty God in my debt.

It is not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy that He saves us.

Pride inspires me to check my spiritual progress to see where I stand on a scale of one to ten — living like a caterpillar with a stopwatch.

The Scripture declares that we are accepted in the Beloved.

That’s all that counts — being in the Beloved.

So, I don’t measure up to my own standard.

Big deal.

I never have.

My friend Wes laughs and says, “Cowart, God’s standards are considerably lower than yours”.

On one level I’m not satisfied with my progresses, but I’m beginning to learn how to simply abide. And for a frantic activist and progress checker like me, abiding is harder than it looks.

Yet, on another level, I can rest in the arms of Jesus and say with St. Paul, “"The life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God."

December 28, 2007

When our daughter Eve said she took the photograph of my wife's cat, Jessica, I thought she took the photograph of the cat, but she meant that she took the photograph of the cat.


That clears everything up.


The problem is the word took. It’s easy to see from my diary entry yesterday (and the one from December 11th) that I thought when Eve said she took the photograph, it meant that she took the photograph. I thought she removed it from the magnetic frame on our refrigerator; what she actually told me was that she snapped the original photograph with her camera.

Eve wants me to assure all readers that she is not a thief.

She made the enhanced digital enlarged photograph of that damn cat for the same reason I dug in garbage hunting the missing photograph — we both acted out of love for Ginny, out of our esteem for her.

Ginny is a person easy to love. Once at an office party her boss came over to me and he said, “Virginia hardly ever says anything, she doesn’t have a sign on her desk, she doesn’t even wear a cross — but no one can come into that office for five minutes without knowing she’s a Christian”.

Anyhow, acting out of love for Ginny, Eve and I confused each other.

It’s all that damn cat’s fault.

To clarify the confusion, I took a moment to look up the word took in the dictionary — All it says is, past tense of take.

Following that lead, I discovered that the word take, in its past tense form, took up most of an entire page of my dictionary.

When Eve said “I took the photograph” she was using definition 11b (3).

When I heard her say, “I took the photograph” I was hearing definition 16a.

The word took up a column and a half of fine print in my dictionary!

It can mean victory “The army took the fort”. To rest, “We took a five minute break”. To endure, “The boss took a lot of heat over that question”. To study, “I took piano lessons”. To remove or steal, “Eve took the photograph”. Or to get by drawing, painting or by photography, “Eve took the photograph”.

It can even mean to care for, as when Jesus said, “I was a stranger and ye took me in”.

The word has a wonder variety of meanings.

We can say:

He took a stand. He took a swing at the ball. He took a fancy to her. She took him for all he was worth. I took the ax by the handle. He took the job. Her mother took his side. She took all the credit. He took the bus home. It took two matches to light the fire. They took my fingerprints. She took my advice. We took pleasure in the sunset. He took me wrong. The storm took its toll. He took off running. I took a bath once.

Boy, this is fun,but it took all morning for me to write this and I’d better quit now.

Besides, over the holiday, I took a vicious cold and my nose is dripping but I need to get to work anyhow.

The important thing Eve wanted me to clarify is that she took the photograph, the photograph was not taken by her.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 6:56 AM


At 4:54 PM, Blogger jellyhead said...

Have you noticed, the more you say a word (for example, let me see.... the word 'took', for instance!), the more it seems to lose all meaning?

One thing neither you nor Eve took ..... neither took Ginny for granted. It's wonderful how much you love Ginny.

At 3:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dad - I took my picture in front of the bike! Hee-hee. Does silliness genetically take? Love you - take that!

At 11:59 AM, Blogger Amrita said...

Took has a lot of nuances. I take that.

Ginny is a special angel.
Happy New Year to all of you and Eve as well.


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