Most of us enjoy stories about naïve amateurs who make bizarre mistakes. We chuckle knowingly over the man who complained about the performance of his new powerboat, only to have the marina staff discover that he’d launched the boat without taking it off the trailer, or the woman who mistook the CD-ROM drive on her computer for a retractable cup holder.
Early on, even Jeremiah could have located himself somewhere within Frederick Buechner’s pithy essay on vocation in Wishful Thinking. “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet,” says Buechner.
Choose your words carefully if you preach to the people back home. Those who knew you will remember things that make many messages seem odd. Prophetic moralizing, for example, would sound hypocritical coming from most folks in such circumstances.
At every wedding we wait for the moment when we witness a bride and groom vow faithfulness to each other “‘til death us do part.” We think when we hear those words, or even more when we speak them ourselves, that death will come to visit much later, at some far distant boundary of a marital union begun today with such promise.
Maya Lin, designer of the Vietnam Memorial, was explaining to a TV interviewer why her remarkable work has come to have such a strong grip upon the emotions of the American people. “It’s the names,” she said, “the names are the memorial.