A guest article from a special friend
This week we had the pleasure of visiting The Getty Center, which opened last December after 14 years in the making. It must surely be the 8th wonder of the world!
While standing in one of the galleries, gazing at huge European tapestries dating back hundreds of years it helped illustrate this quote:
"do not give any consideration to the tangled backside of your tapestry - God is good and out to do us good always."
This reminds the writer of a man named Walter, who back in the early '60's was, in his words, "one of the early rebels." His father ran off while Wally was still in his mother's womb and for the first 8 years of his life he was devoted to his mother and his mother to him. When she remarried and began having more children (11 in all), he recalls one of his first acts of rebellion, at age 8, was to urinate on a neighbor's fur coat hanging on the clothesline. Nineteen years later, with several prior (albeit minor) arrests, he was picked up in Los Angeles in 1968 and sentenced to 7 hard years in maximum security prisons for possessing 1/2 lb. of marijuana. Eight months after his release, Wally saw an acquaintance that introduced him for the first time to heroin. Minutes later, he said, "give me some more," and he was out. His brain was without oxygen for 7 minutes and a couple of days later he awoke in a hospital: his voice was gone, as was his motor control. Years later, speaking with his fingers, he said, "there I was - one day minstreling down the avenue; the next I had to teach myself how to breathe!"
For 2 1/2 yrs. he had no contact with anyone he knew except the hospital staff. At long last a fellow ex-prisoner found him & took him home. Then in 1975 a woman, able to see behind and beyond the affliction, came into his life, married him, and they had 2 sons. Jesus Christ also came into their life in 1975 and He began the work of getting Wally's eyes off the "backside of the tapestry and onto the front side" quite a process for a man who was filled with self-loathing, anger, frustration, fear and unforgiveness!
Today, in 1998, this dear man has so totally given his life over to the Lord that he is a witness to anyone who looks into his eyes and is able to see the peace and love therein. When someone asks him, "what can I get for you?" he will always spell one thing: "a hug." One day his wife hugged him and said, "there, now what else can I do for you?" He said, "another hug." His humor is keen, there is no conflict in his soul, he loves God and has received and allowed the Holy Spirit to do an amazing work in his life. Although there was no (outer) healing, and his condition worsens daily; he seldom leaves his hospital room nor can he easily spell out letters any longer, the sufficient grace God promised the apostle Paul in his affliction pours into Wally. It pours to each of us as needed, as we praise and trust him AND get out of the tangles on the backside and concentrate on the front, where there is a beautiful picture of past, present and eternity.
Jesus is the one who bled and died for us; whatever could happen to us must be seen with praise and trust - it can never come close to what our dear Savior did to spare us! (Walter Burckhard's address: 1322 W. 6th St., San Pedro CA 90731.)
Subsequent to a short story about Wally, "The Treasury of Tapestry Pt. I," there was a most incredible day which gave credence to the above verse in the Bible..
I at age 37 had gone through the turbulent "hippie movement," which included a godless life of 4 "marriages," 3 children, 20 years of daily drug abuse ("how does one find peace and happiness? Oh, it must be through the use of stimulants!"), stealing, conning, perversion, community living in the High (very high) and Lower Sierra Mountains of California, and was still on that kind of roll when I met this man in a wheelchair in San Francisco, who captured my heart. My motives, of course, were wrong as I was drawn to his life of sin and the prison terms he had served and the very fact that heroin had put him in a wheelchair.
"But then what benefit (return) did you get from the things of which you are now ashamed? (None,) for the end of those things is death." Vs. 21
So I decided one day, after we had traveled from San Francisco to Mexico City doing various con adventures (enough said), that nirvana would be in leaving the kids (ages 11, 12 and 1 1/2) with hippie friends in the mountains and spending six months with Wally in a small fishing village in the far away state of Nayarit, Mexico at a place called Santa Cruz, where previously we had discovered a home owned by an old man who rented a dirt-floored room to us with one glassless window, a table, a bed (under which I cleverly stashed a glass needle outfit for drug use upon my return.) What useless energy spent in the most senseless and dangerous things! (Yes, even though Walter had overdosed, he still had not learned a lesson away from drugs, especially with me enticing him.)
How little did I know the God and Savior of the universe, who created me in my mother's womb and never had his eyes off me through such love, did plan to bring me peace..but not the way I expected it!
On the way to Mexico we made a stop-off in Sierra Madre, CA, where my newly born-again brother lived, the one I was angry at (but loved) because he had become a "Christian" and I knew we could no longer be friends. I remember that anger at him, purely devil-inspired, saying, "John, we'll never be friends again, you a full-blown hippie will now be wearing sport coats.ugh!" But stop we did, and all of a sudden I found myself agreeing to "pray" with him. We went into his bedroom, the two of us, got down on our knees and he led me in a prayer of supplication to the Lord Jesus Christ for my soul and commitment to Jesus, during which I said, "God, I love you." After John said, "Nancy, God has a wonderful plan for you, for anyone living in your condition who can say, 'God, I love you,' he will honor and give a beautiful life." And he gave me a four-translation Bible, making me promise to read it every day as we continued on this Mexico quest.
Wally and I arrived at our dirt-floored room, after an exhausting trip on planes, cabs, open aired buses with fringe and slabs of wood for seats, carrying along the wheelchair, a food blender and an electric typewriter (Walter being a full-blooded poetic Welshman) 1000 miles down the coast of Mexico! We set up housekeeping and a supply of drugs, yes, even after my 'prayer,' and proceeded to stay stoned every day, write and smoke cigarettes, collect raw milk from a town lady who had cows (no one told me you were supposed to boil it before drinking it), and buying fresh tortillas from the tortilleria, grabbing fresh mangoes off the cobblestone sidewalks.BUT there was one other thing I did, and that was to open that Bible each day and say, "Wally, this is my time to learn about Jesus." He would smile.
Early on the 30th day of our sojourn we dropped acid (not on the floor, in our stomachs) and proceeded to get good and loaded, to spend the day in this 10'x10' room being 'inspired.' At one point I remember looking out the glassless window at the lush vegetation, ocean a 1/2 mile away, breathing fresh air, watching the lady across the way hang her clothes on her fence, with her little daughter helping. My mind went to my little daughter and immediately a thought came in my mind, "my children are better off without me." (I did not know it was the voice of the serpent speaking to this 'Eve,' in the first person.)
"For the wages which sin pays is death." vs. 23
And I began to entertain thoughts of double! I turned to Wally, sitting at the table, laboriously typing poetic rhetoric with a pencil held in his shaking hand (due to his condition and the drug), and said, "we should kill ourselves, we have NOTHING to live for, we are both messes and my children are better off without me." I proceeded for the next SIX hours to entice, manipulate, make attractive a double; the presence of evil and darkness was very prevalent in that room, but at the time I did not understand the spiritual warfare that was going on for my soul!
At the end of that time, Walter not having responded except to listen carefully and watch me with those penetrating blue eyes (he could not speak, remember, due to his overdose a couple of years before), he picked up his hand and made the sign-language for "NO." At that very moment in time, I looked at him and said, "no? No?? NO??? You mean I cannot kill myself, and you; you mean no, I can LIVE, I don't have to kill myself, that there is something to live FOR?" And all of a sudden I started to get it: a message of LIFE, and the presence of evil and darkness was immediately taken from that room and a presence of Light came in; I began to cry, laugh, jump, shout with clarity (not drug-induced) that LIFE had entered my heart and I, yes even I, could be a 'Christian!"
He laughed and like lightening, we decided to get physically clean (by going out to the courtyard where in the middle of mango trees there was a 'shower,' which was a corrugated walled-off area with a hose running up the top and through a coffee can), washed off thoroughly and proceeded to cut his long, blond hair - all significant of 'baptism,' I believe to this day!
"But now since you have been set free from sin and have become the slaves of God, you have your present reward in holiness and its end is eternal life." Vs. 2
I stayed up the entire night packing our things as we couldn't get out of there fast enough to begin a new life in Christ! Three days later, having traveled 3rd class buses the 1000 miles, with the typewriter, wheelchair, blender and luggage, only pennies to eat whatever anyone was selling through the bus window at stops along the way, we showed up in middle-class Torrance, CA, America, USA, dirty and filthy - but RIGHTEOUSLY CLEAN & HAPPY & FILLED WITH PEACE - where my parents and brother happily received us in their arms of love.
It's been that way ever since, 23 years later because:
Return to Lambert Dolphin's Library
April 11, 1998, July 30, 1998.