Janet and I have been going through some old papers and came across several old life insurance polices from the late ’70’s and early 80’s. Since I am trying to make sure things are current, I decided to call the companies and see about the status of each policy. Three of the policies were from one company and the fourth was from a company I don’t even remember – much less when I got the policy. So I decided to call on that one first and find out the status of the policy – since I know that I haven’t paid premiums on it for many years.
Of course, once I got the correct number and made the call, I had to wait on hold for what seemed like forever and I was finally given an option to leave my number and the company would return my call when my place in the queue came up. I decided that was the best option so I left the policy number, my phone number and name – and waited… But sure enough, I received a call from a very nice man who had already looked up the status and was ready to report back to me. He let me know that the policy had been surrendered in 1997, that the company had been acquired in 1998 and was now part of a larger organization. Only critical information about the policy remained.
And therein lies the rub… and the title of tonight’s post. I asked for the surrender date, which he had, and was trying to remember the event. I asked for any additional information and he suddenly became a little hesitant. As I pushed him to reveal the rest of the unspoken info, he gently suggested that maybe I was having a bad day on the day I contacted them back in 1997. He then proceeded to read me a letter that I included with my cancellation and it wasn’t pretty.
I told them to never contact me again and I couldn’t understand why they wouldn’t just leave me alone and to quit bothering me. It was obvious that I was angry and fed up. It was on our official company stationary and I signed it as President. Not my best day. While the agent made light of the note, I cringed when I heard him read it and remark that it was the only item still in the file… except for the envelope I had sent it in.
It occurred to me that back in those days that letter, unfortunately, was rather indicative of who I was. As I look back on those days, I was intolerant, pushy, arrogant and had a number of other negative qualities that I need not go into here – you get the idea. As I have increased my faith and grown closer to Christ, I have changed for the better. But I was stunned to realize that there was written evidence of that former life still out there and that it could be recalled on a moment’s notice. How embarrassing!
When someone changes for the better, they want traces of their former life erased but be warned that those earlier days can follow you for quite some time – at least 20 years in my case so far. And that brings us to the verse of the evening. Jesus had quite a bit to say in tonight’s lesson. He was asked about the most important commandment and responded that two commandments were inextricably linked and they involved the love of God and the love of each other. This was the first time that it was commanded that loving God and loving each other were tied together. The implication was that you can’t truly love one another without loving God – and you certainly can’t truly love God without loving one another. What a call to higher ground!
Mark records the exchange in his Gospel. We are told, starting with Jesus quoting the Shema, in Mark 12:28-31, “One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
My encouragement tonight is that Jesus wants us to love Him and one another as part of the package. My prayer is that we will all spend some time thinking about how we treat each other. Clearly, in my case, my journey continues but the shadow of my past continues to follow me! Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…