HERE’S THAT STORY!

When I was a Master of Divinity student at Princeton Theological Seminary in New Jersey, I had an old Zenith TV that I only had time to watch once and a while.  But one day a week later in the evening,  I did like watching Masterpiece Theatre on PBS.  Good TV and a break from theological studies, writing papers, pursuing ordination with the Presbyterian Church and holding down 2  part-time jobs as well.I needed a diversion. And I got one indeed!   Princeton, even in the Dark Ages when I was a student, was most pricey.  And my 1963 VW bug invariably needed repairs ,which being singularly unhandy I had to pay for.  I tried to make the car last as long as possible…even parking only on hills so I could jump start the car out of 2nd gear hoping I could forestall the replacement of the starter, which only worked when it wanted to.  A mind of its own!   Back to that old TV…the picture rolled and rolled  and wouldn’t stay in place.  Remember when TV pictures would roll up and down and you’ld use that dial on the side to try to make it stop.  Well, the dial died and the roll never did!  Almost needed to wear a neckbrace just to watch the TV.  Very annoying.  Well, I discovered that someone,by the name of Robinson, years before, had left the Seminary a bundle of money for $150 awards to any student who would memorize the Shorter Catechism of the Westminster Confession from the 1600’s.  A marvelous confession, biblical to a tee, questions and answers worth memorizing, a worthy tool for life and upcoming ministry…and a new TV to boot!!  But, I’m sure, that idea was just an afterthought, an epiphany!  Yeah, right…my old TV was such a pain in the neck!  So I worked the catechism hard, almost could recite it in my sleep, over and over, question and answer.  And guess what?  I won…got the Robinson Award,  and a new picture-staying-in-one-place, pain-free TV!! So, what does that have to do with Ecclesiastes 12:13, you rightfully ask?  That’s next time…no, just kidding.  The very first question in that catechism is this:  “What is the chief end of man?” Man’s chief purpose in life, we might say today.  The answer: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever”.  Now read that verse in Ecclesiastes.  “…here’s the conclusion of the matter: fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.”  Chief end?  Purpose?  To fear/love/respect/honor our Lord God and follow Him. In the original Hebrew the word ‘duty’ is not there.  It’s added by translators to make better sense of the original language.  But, I think, it makes perfect sense–to worship God through Jesus Christ alone, and to follow Him ,imperfect as you and I are, that is the whole of man.  Not just duty…but all of life that God has so generously given us.  To look squarely in His face, to not have the picture of our lives distractedly roll up and down, this way and that, one foot with God and one foot in this sinful, crazy world–to follow Him and Him alone. This is it, folks.  Can you see it?  Love God…follow Him.  Our chief end…a whole in One!

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