Week 52 (December)
"If I just had a body that was 20 years younger, I'd be pastoring again," Alfredo Del Rosso told me not long after his ninetieth birthday.
Del Rosso, the founder of Nazarene work in Italy, was a remarkable man whose 75-year walk with the Lord has taught him the secrets of Psalm 37.
Alfredo Del Rosso was nearly 80 when he finally retired from the active ministry, but for 10 more years he continued to serve as a supply preacher, filling in for pastors when they were away for vacation or other reasons. Del Rosso preached often in the Florence church up until his death at 94.
This was no tired, worn-out old man waiting to die. Instead, he was a vibrant Christian who could joyfully sang, "What a blessedness, what a peace is mine, Leaning on the everlasting arms."
By way of contrast, I remember a phone conversation with one of the other members of the Florence congregation. Mario and Laura Landi were also getting up in years. But their state of mind was altogether different from that of Alfredo Del Rosso.
Mario was having some severe health problems. Over the phone, Laura told me she was at the end of herself. I suggested she might try putting everything in the hands of the Lord, but she wasn't sure she was ready for that. You see, about six or eight years prior to that they had an upsetting experience in church. They had been back in church only three or four times since.
Their spiritual and emotional lives were anything but the rest in the Lord mentioned in Psalm 37. In fact, Mario had even told me he had considered suicide.
Unfortunately, the Landis and too many other believers like them have succumbed to fretfulness, impatience, and even envy -- all of which are nothing more than snares of the devil.
We live in a world torn by terrorism, crime waves, international tensions, and by dishonesty and corruption in business and government. Our own personal lives are invaded by disease, death, the evil actions of others, and by inequities of every kind. All of this is causes tension and restlessness, even in the best experiences of grace. Psalm 37 gives us the divine recipe for living in the midst of wicked people: Do good. Trust God. Don't worry.
It is interesting to me that a former missionary, Earl Lee, would write a book on Psalm 37. We missionaries are noted for living hectic lives (or at least most of us complain that we do).
In his book, Cycle of Victorious Living, Rev. Lee used key words from this psalm to point to the kind of abundant living Christ promised to us.
For instance, in his explanation of the "rest" theme, Earl Lee noted that this is not the exhausted paralysis of one who has collapsed from a losing struggle. Rather, it is the rest of triumph, the rest of one who has found contentment and serenity in God even in the face of the apparent contradictions of experience.
E. Stanley Jones, like Earl Lee, was a missionary to India. Jones recounts the story of a young man who said to him: "I've resigned as general manager of the universe!"
Some more of us probably need to do that as well. You see, the "blessed peace with my Lord so near" that we sing about won't come until we're really "leaning on the everlasting arms."
These devotional thoughts by Howard Culbertson appeared in the December 28, 1980 edition of Standard
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