Dates and places seem to be important markers for things. My birthday, the day I was baptized, my first comminion, my confirmation, the day I graduated high school, college, seminary, or the day I got married, ordained, installed. All of those dates bear varying amounts of significance in my life. For the most part though, as is the case with all dates, times, and places that history concerns itself with, they are merely markers. Points upon which the true tapestry of life hangs. My memory has always been good enough to retain that information. But retaining information merely for reguritation and being shaped by it are two different things.
One of the books I am finishing reading will probably poke its head on this blog every now and again. It is the personal memoirs of John W. Behnken, President of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod from 1935 until 1962. before that he was a parish pastor in Texas for well over two decades. All in all, he served the church in some offical capacity for 56 years. I have been a pastor for a whopping 7 months and some change. His life was one that was as unique as every life is. He visited continents, met people I could only dream of, and touched the lives of all who knew him.
Today was a date of importance in his life, his birthday. It may not have been the most important date, but still, it matters. What matters more, however, are the lessons he tried to teach the church by his life and writing. One such lesson quoted below speaks more to today’s life than my words ever could.
“When I met General Dwight D. Eisenhower at the Allied Supreme Headquarters in Europe shortly after the close of hostilities, he told me personally that wars do not settle issues. General Douglas MacArthur expressed the same conviction in an exchange of letters I had with him a year later. Both of these great American leaders stated that the hearts of men must be changed if we are to win the peace. We Christians know that only the Gospel of Christ can effect such a change in heart. Only in the measure that we bring the Spirit of Christ into men’s lives can we expect a better world.”
–John W. Behnken, This I Recall, (St. Louis: CPH, 1964), 57.
Happy Birthday Mr. President. Though you have long passed into the sleep that awaits resurrection, your words live on to inspire the next generation to bring the Spirit of Christ into the world.