Thursday, March 8, 2012

Who Do You Say He Is?

Have you noticed how the 40 days of Lent can give Christians pause? It’s a journey for our souls to catch up with our bodies. And it begins when we ask God to be transformed through “the renewing of our minds,” as the Bible puts it. Meditating on Christ being born when and how He was, living perfectly the way He did, dying for our sin as He was sent by His Father to do and then rising from the dead…. either brings comfort or it can raise a whole lot of questions. Or both!

One of my favorite journey stories came out of great visits I had with Charlie and Dottie Duke. In the late ‘90’s I recorded the “Woman to Woman” show in their New Braunfels, TX home. Charlie “Moonwalker” Duke, as he was later called, was absolutely out of this world back in the ‘70’s, as a lunar module pilot on Apollo 16. This man kept his cool atop 6 million tons of fuel, anticipating blastoff...then cruised at 25,000 miles per hour while floating in zero gravity. He was the 10th man to walk on the moon, spending 20 hours on its surface. The world noticed.

But Charlie didn’t seem to notice, when he returned with 213 lbs of moonrocks, that his marriage was on the rocks. His wife, Dottie, did. Charlie had promised to put her first in his life when they married, but his pursuit of a skyrocketing career left that plan in the dust. Two children and 12 years later, Dottie was depressed, had given up on the marriage and spent her time devouring self help books, but to no avail. She thought about divorce and even contemplated suicide.

They were churchgoers and one Sunday the church held a “spiritual renewal weekend.” The guests shared their personal stories of getting to know Jesus and what a difference He’d made in their lives. When they talked about answered prayer, they caught Dottie’s attention. That night she knelt down without Charlie knowing it and confessed to God that she needed to know if He was real and that if He was, to please come to her as He had to the people who seemed filled with love and joy in church that morning. And if He wasn’t, she just wanted to die.

BTW, Charlie attended the same service and had been “under”whelmed. Dottie didn’t have any startling revelation or sudden spiritual awakening after that prayer, but she soon noticed she wasn’t reaching for the self help books anymore, now that she’d taken up Bible reading! She got into a Bible study and learned about letting go of her resentment of Charlie and putting him in God’s hands. She began to grow in the knowledge of the Lord and every day she tried to forgive Charlie for his lack of responsiveness in the marriage. For several years she did this and grew in her faith to the point she found joy and a renewed love for herself and others.

Then one day Charlie went to a Men’s Bible study at a country club. They discussed Mark 8, where Jesus heals the blind man at Bethsaida and as He and the disciples walk to another town, He asks them, “Who do people say I am?” They
replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.”

After the Bible study, Charlie “Moon Walker” Duke, the big strong astronaut who brought rocks back from the moon, got into his car, put the key in the ignition and as the engine started up, it was as if he heard inside his head, “Charlie, who do YOU say I am?” Without warning, Charlie dropped his head onto his hands on the steering wheel and told God he wanted to find out. From that day forward, his spiritual quest led him to confess Christ as his Lord and Savior. Their marriage was ultimately healed, through forgiveness by both parties. In fact, they traveled the world for years to military bases to help other marriages thrive as they depended on Christ.

What about your journey this Lenten season? Who do YOU say He is? When you spend time with Him and listen to His Word, He’ll give you instruction and direction, lovingly, with the destination in mind that He won for you on the cross!

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