I apologize to the memory of the late Paul Harvey, for I am shamelessly imitating his style to tell you about my friend Jack.
You know how people drift apart I had not met up with Jack for a long time. Then just last month my 15-year-old son, Chuck, actually reintroduced me to Jack. Chuck and Jack had been spending hours together over the past few months.
I was glad my son was spending time with Jack. Jack is a fierce Christian, but his faith in the Lord Jesus didnt come easy. Since it wasnt easy, it has always been cherished and appreciated by those who know him.
As young boys, Jack and his brother, like my two sons, spent many hours together making up stories and playing out dramas. They lived a lovely life with his mom and dad, until mom died when Jack was still quite young. Jack said something to the effect that with his mothers passing all the joy seemed to go out of life.
While the family was Christian by designation, after his moms passing, Jack became what can be described as a friendly agnostic. He just didnt believe, but wasnt aggressive about it.
Jack was shuttled off to a boarding school, and that was a dreadful experience. He tried being a soldier, but that wasnt for him either.
After completing his education, he went to work as a college professor where he was overworked, underpaid and underappreciated.
All the while, the Lord was pursuing Jack. As I tell my congregation, Jesus does nag at us. Once he has gotten into us, he wont let go. He keeps coming back to us over and over and over again. It was like that for Jack. It was as if he and the Lord were in a chess game. No matter what move Jack made, the Lord kept putting him in check, until finally one night it was checkmate. Jack believed in God.
Not yet a Christian, he actually began attending worship at a local church, and finally, after a long struggle, Jack accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.
While continuing to be overworked at school, Jack threw himself into all kinds of Christian ministries over the years. As I said earlier, he was fierce in his Christian belief, and unwavering.
When cupid finally struck the lifelong bachelor, he fell hard in love and married his soul mate, Joy. After all too few years of marriage, Joy died of cancer. Jacks grief almost destroyed him. After so many unwavering years of belief and relationship with Christ, Jacks world and his relationship with the Lord just didnt make sense anymore.
Some friends recommended that Jack read C.S. Lewis book A Grief Observed, where Lewis is trying to find the right relationship with God after the death of his wife.
Jack didnt have to read the C.S. Lewis book because he wrote it. For you see, from even before his mothers death and right to the end of his life, Clive Staples Lewis preferred to be called Jack by his family and friends.
My friend Jack died the same day President Kennedy was killed. I was only 27 months old, and it would be two decades until I even heard of C.S. Lewis. Yet he is my great friend, my brother in Christ.
I have thrilled to The Chronicles of Narnia. I have worked through Mere Christianity and argued with him while reading The Screwtape Letters. I cried with him while working through his grief in A Grief Observed. I shared his ironic joke over the title of his autobiography Surprise by Joy, knowing he meant the Joy of being a Christian and the Joy of life with his wife, Joy Davidman.
I had not read Jack for too long when my son Chuck began to reread the seven Chronicles of Narnia since Christmastime. Then Chuck reintroduced me to Jack, as Chuck just had to talk over those stories with his ol dad.
I recommend you get to know Jack, or find other Christian friends from previous generations. Ask your pastor or shoot me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are dozens of old friends I would love for you to get to know, everyone from St. Paul of Tarsus to Hildegard of Bingen; from the Old Testaments Chronicler to Scripture scholar Carol Bechtel.
I would love for you to really come to know my pal Jack, er, C.S. Lewis, great Christian writer and theologian, and my sons personal friend.
The Rev. Steve Nofel is co-pastor of Montezuma Valley Presbyterian Church.