Here’s a thought for Aug. 16

First Lutheran Church, Marshall

In a recent conversation during coffee time at church, we found ourselves discussing the latest batch of professional athletes who were guilty of using performance enhancing drugs/procedures. Though there was no sympathy expressed for their struggles, we also agreed that their behavior is symptomatic of a much larger problem.

To introduce it, I’ll tell a story about our son, Mark, in his first year of T-ball (you know, where kids hit the ball and run to3rd base, or 1st, or back to the bench!). One evening, the team found itself on the verge of winning its first game. The last boy up took a mighty swing then stood and watched as the ball dribbled off the tee. Though his team encouraged him to run, he simply stood and looked at the ball. As an opposing player picked it up and threw it to first, one parent from “our” team screamed at the child in anger. When my wife turned to her and said, “It’s only a game!” the woman responded, “The #### it is!”

From players who cheat to fans who scream to ____ (fill in the blank and name the fault), sin is a hunger that is eager to gnaw at the very center of our souls. Life is such that we are constantly able to order from a menu that features a myriad of choices, from those worldly things that promise riches and delight, to those that promise a rich heart and a delighted soul.

I don’t have a clue how to prevent the one side from looking so tempting – so it is with all of us who are forced to look through a glass darkly (I Corinthians 13:12). However, I am happy to say that I do have a clue how to fill our souls with the good stuff, the spiritual nourishment that helps us say yes to that which is good for us, and through us, for our neighbors.

One way is to gorge ourselves on God’s Word – to so fill our hearts and minds with Scripture that there is little room left for anything worldly. Unfortunately, that’s less a skill of mine than a dream! But I know someone for whom it is a reality.

Elly Schwanebeck (the mother of popular Marshall teacher Mark Schwanebeck and member of 1st English Lutheran in Tyler) has an incredible skill. She is able to recite from memory a Bible passage for every letter in the alphabet and where it came from (book, chapter and verse)!

I asked her how old she was when she memorized these verses (I was expecting/hoping she would say she was in her teens!!). Instead, Elly said she memorized them just a few years ago (Elly gave me permission to tell you that she is 87 years old!!).

Tell me if you disagree, but I’m thinking that our whole world would be in a much better place if more of us spent more of our time memorizing more of God’s Word like our dear friend Elly. That’s my thought for this week.