Thursday, January 07, 2010

Humility > Servanthood > Destination

Fairly recently I posted something that described how men's and women's brains work. I think that's why I find it so hard to put up a post that is just about one thing, because one thing makes me think of something else and so on. So, I think this is where all this started, but I'm not sure.

I received an annual letter from a family I have been following for several years now. At the moment, they live in North Carolina. For some reason I was reminded of a story about Billy Graham, who was from North Carolina. It has appeared on the internet many times — possibly the first time back in 2005. I love this story very much because it makes several points:
In January 2000, leaders in Charlotte, North Carolina invited their favorite son, Billy Graham, to a luncheon in his honor.

Mr. Graham initially hesitated to accept the invitation because he struggles with Parkinson’s disease. But the city leaders said, “We don’t expect a major address. Just come and let us honor you.” So he agreed.

After wonderful things were said about him, Dr. Graham stepped to the rostrum, looked at the crowd, and said, “I’m reminded today of Albert Einstein, the great physicist who this month has been honored by Time Magazine as the Man of the Century.

Einstein was once traveling from Princeton on a train when the conductor came down the aisle, punching the tickets of every passenger. When he came to Einstein, Einstein reached in his vest pocket. He couldn’t find his ticket, so he reached in his trouser pockets. It wasn’t there, so he looked in his briefcase but couldn’t find it. Then he looked in the seat beside him, and it wasn’t there either.
The conductor said, “Dr. Einstein, I know who you are. We all know who you are. I’m sure you bought a ticket. Don’t worry about it.”

Einstein nodded appreciatively. The conductor continued down the aisle punching tickets. As he was ready to move to the next car, he turned around and saw the great physicist down on his hands and knees looking under his seat for his ticket.

The conductor rushed back and said, “Dr. Einstein, Dr. Einstein, don’t worry, I know who you are. No problem. You don’t need a ticket. I’m sure you bought one.”

Einstein looked at him and said, “Young man, I too, know who I am. What I don’t know is where I’m going.”

Having said that, Billy Graham continued, “See the suit I’m wearing? It’s a brand new suit. My wife, my children and my grandchildren are telling me I’ve gotten a little slovenly in my old age. I used to be a bit more fastidious. So I went out and bought a new suit for this luncheon, and for one more occasion.

You know what that occasion is? This is the suit in which I’ll be buried. But when you hear I’m dead, I don’t want you to immediately remember the suit I’m wearing. I want you to remember this: I not only know who I am — I also know where I am going.”
This story brings to mind an important man I worked a short while for in the early 1960's. I recall someone telling how Dr. Robert Stubblefield attended a formal meeting in Washington DC at which cards were in place for those invited. Despite looking for his place when he entered the dining room, Dr. Stubblefield couldn't locate his assigned seat. He was eventually told – as though he should have known already – that his seat was at the head table. This kind of humility speaks volumes to me when someone thinks less highly of themselves than most people of their position would. Dr. Stubblefield's obituary included many of his honors and accomplishments, yet he was a humble man.

In conclusion ...

I Know Where I'm Going · by The Judds

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