Saint Charlie




Scripture:

Psa. 24:0   Of David. A Psalm.
1 The earth is the LORD’S and all that is in it,
the world, and those who live in it;
2 for he has founded it on the seas,
and established it on the rivers.

Psa. 24:3    Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD?
And who shall stand in his holy place?
4 Those who have clean hands and pure hearts,
who do not lift up their souls to what is false,
and do not swear deceitfully.
5 They will receive blessing from the LORD,
and vindication from the God of their salvation.
6 Such is the company of those who seek him,
who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah

Psa. 24:7    Lift up your heads, O gates!
and be lifted up, O ancient doors!
that the King of glory may come in.
8 Who is the King of glory?
The LORD, strong and mighty,
the LORD, mighty in battle.
9 Lift up your heads, O gates!
and be lifted up, O ancient doors!
that the King of glory may come in.
10 Who is this King of glory?
The LORD of hosts,
he is the King of glory. Selah

Observation:

A beautiful psalm that challenges the follower of God to participate in a life of holiness. Who is it that can climb the hill and have fellowship with the Triune God? It is the one who has been purified by the power of the Holy Spirit, a life transformed with clean hands and a pure heart. They have been sanctified through and through, ministering with their hands, motivated by love for God. 

So moved by the action of God the psalmist has to praise God. Over and again, “Who is the King of glory?” And then the affirmation that comes when one is a partaker of the divine nature, a firm assurance that this is the LORD, strong and mighty, the King of glory!

Application:

Today is All Saint’s Day and as I read the scriptures I can hear the voice of my grandfather, Rev. C. B. (Charlie) Johnson ringing in my ears. Reflecting on a Saint, I have to think of my dear grandfather, the father of my dad. I really didn’t have the opportunity to know him too well because I grew up so far away.I was born in Germany and my grandparents lived in Nebraska.  I met them for the first time when I was two years of age. I would return to visit again when I was six and of that time I have more vivid memories. Grandpa was always calm, sweet, kind and gentle. He didn’t move too quickly or speak often but he diligently went about his business. 

A young man moved by the message of holiness, he was passionate about knowing Christ and spent hours a day in prayer and study of the scriptures, memorizing long passages. This was one of his favorite and so, in the waning years of his life, when he could no longer see nor hear clearly, he would quote these passages and then move into a time of prayer. When he started to pray it was as if the world stopped. I wanted to sneak a peak because it seemed as if he had a direct line to heaven. There was such intimacy in his prayers that you felt as if you were eaves-dropping on a very private conversation. Visiting him as a teenager, I remember thinking that I wanted to have a relationship with Jesus like that. 

Life wasn’t easy for C.B. and Marie, pastoring for fifty years in Nebraska. They planted many churches and grandpa often built the buildings with his own two hands. The Johnsons had three children, Ardith, Jerald and Shirley. Their world changed when Shirley was born with Down’s syndrome and a heart defect. She was a “blue baby” adding to the complications of Down’s and resulting in severe brain damage. Shirley would never learn to talk or care for herself. Whenever we visited, my grandparents would have to spend extended periods of time caring for Shirley. That’s my vision of Saint Charlie — in his Sunday best, walking Shirley from her bedroom to the kitchen table. She was nearly blind and would wrap her arms around his somewhat ample waistline and walk with him. He wrapped his arms around her in a loving embrace, and always with kind and gentle words led her along the way. I can see him feeding her, wiping her face, and making sure she was cleaned up beautifully to go to church. I never, ever heard him complain but simply saw him loving his dear girl. 

My grandparents were told that Shirley wouldn’t live long, but because of their loving care she defied all odds and lived into her 60’s. Grandpa was heartbroken when he could no longer care for her and she had to move into a care facility. By now he was nearly 90 and yet, this was his dearly beloved daughter. At least twice a day grandpa made time for devotions, sometimes even more often the older he became. Sitting in his chair I can hear him say, “Mother, it’s time for devotions.” The next thing you knew, he was quoting long passages and today this Psalm is ringing in my ears, clearly being spoken by the voice of Saint Charlie. Of course, it had to be in the King James Version:

Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.
Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory.

Saint Charlie not only understood the holiness message, but he passionately embraced it, and was transformed into a holy man who reflected Christ. A man with clean hands and a pure heart. Appropriate that he went home to be with Jesus on All Saint's Day, 33 years ago today.

I’m grateful for my heritage and am challenged to follow in the footsteps of my dear grandfather. Thank you, C.B. Johnson, for being faithful. 

Prayer:

Lord, may I never take for granted the heritage which has been handed down to me as an inheritance. I am grateful. Amen. 

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