Teresa of Avila: Interior Castle: Seventh Mansions: Chapter Three
[She] has now died, full of joy at having found rest, and within her lives Christ. Let us see what her new life is like, and how different it is from her earlier one. (Teresa of Avila)
He worked the soul like he worked the land
He spoke in ways that anyone could understand
Simple words of simple faith
And when it came to love
He would go out of his way
A helping hand
A soothing chat
And he practiced what he preached imagine that (Michael W. Smith)
The metaphor of death and new life is common in spiritual literature. In order to have new life, we must die to our previous existence. Sometimes this death is nearly imperceptible, other times it’s significant events like a book, an illness, or a person that catalyzes our transformation.
About twenty years ago, I went to a two-day conference on hiring employees. The speaker, Vic, was illustrating character and generosity. He shared a story about growing up in the 50s in a tiny town — 110 people as I write this — called Cannon City, Minnesota. When Vic was in eighth grade, he desperately wanted to play the trumpet. But his family was too poor to afford the instrument.
There was a senior in high school that would often be on the tractor as Vic walked by. Vic would occasionally stop and talk with this older boy. One day, Vic mentioned his desire to play the trumpet. The older boy said, “I’m leaving for the military soon — you can have my trumpet.”
This story caught my attention because my wife attended church in Cannon City when we were dating. I met some of the people she went to church with, including the school teacher who preached on Sundays.
At the break in our conference, I stopped and talked to Vic. I said, “It’s possible we could have a mutual acquaintance. Did you by any chance know a Bix Nauman when you grew up in Cannon City?” Vic said, “That’s the boy who gave me the trumpet!” He asked me how I knew Bix. And then Vic said, “Bix Nauman was the most Christian person I ever met.”
I saw Bix a few years later. We talked for a short time. As I walked away, he stopped me. He pulled a folded piece a paper from his pocket and handed it to me: Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor. (John 12.24-26)
Bix understood the Christian life was about dying. Dying to self and selfishness — and dying to our previous existence and following Christ into new life.
Is Bix the most Christian person I ever met? Probably. Some may suggest his pastoral talents weren’t fully used by preaching to less than a 100 people on Sunday and teaching science during the week. I disagree. From what I’ve seen — from what I’ve heard — the seed fell into the ground and died and bore much fruit.
Wonderful story! Once I was discouraged, thinking that I hadn’t seen any fruit from my life in a while – I was “just” a teacher for adults (TESL). Someone told me that my life was as if I were sowing seeds of dust behind me; all I saw was dust – not of much value; but when the Son shone on the dust I’d sown in others’ lives, the light showed it for what it was… gold dust. I think many such men and women like Bix are out there, unsung heroes writing God’s history pages on infinitely more valuable pages than the world’s history books are written on. All we are called to do is love God, and be obedient to his calling on our lives – whether that’s preaching to thousands, or living a sermon for one. As Saint Francis of Assisi said, “Preach always; when necessary use words.”
Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts Stephanie. I hope you have a wonderful week.
I adore this re-encounter, Dave! It may be my favorite post of yours. I think it shows a lot of beauty, in spite of life’s much harshness.Thank you!
Thanks for the encouragement Resa. I hope you have a great week.
Such a touching story, Dave! It sounds like Bix has had such a positive impact and, I agree, it means no less that he preached to 100 people at church instead of 1000. HUGS
Thanks Christy! Nice to hear from you. Have a great week.
Reblogged this on Teresa of Avila Turns 500.
Nice story. Is your site now complete, since I see you reblogged this article
Thanks for your kind comments! For all practical purposes, the site is complete. I occasionally post something new or reblog. I hope all is well Brian.