October 28, 2013


To Ollie, our 3-year-old grandson, it is the rarest of treasures: an empty perfume bottle. A token of affection from his father to his mother, the exquisitely crafted gift had been designed to please the eye as well as the nose. The perfume is spent. But Ollie, always attracted to beautiful objects, holds the bottle close and admires its form. Fashioned after an elegant Grecian urn, its ruby-red body is adorned with a wreath of shining gold.

Since babyhood Ollie has shown a curious interest in objects belonging to his parents or grandparents. A small box filled with my cuff links and tie clasps is frequently visited, as is his grandmother’s assortment of pins and broaches. Silver napkin rings are also enjoyed. His “jewels” are arranged on the carpet for his enjoyment.

Pressing the miniature Grecian urn to his heart and shouting Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy,” he knocks on our door, and after a moment of reflection, and with a beatific smile, he offers his grandmother the recently acquired treasure. She hesitates to accept it, but he persists. Fredonia doesn’t cry, but she, brushing a tear, is strangely silent. Turning to me with manly pride, Ollie says, “I gived it to her.”

Moved by the little guy’s joyful generosity,
I retire to my study and drop into my recliner. A long-buried memory is resurrected.

I wonder why she doesn’t say something. She just cries softly.

Long Ago and Far Away

I am 8 years old, the oldest of three children who, with my parents, live at 1019 South Fetterly Street in a developing village east of Los Angeles. Daddy works and studies at the White Memorial and L.A. County hospitals completing the medical course. By any standard we are poor; but Mama, rather than seeking a paying job, has chosen to stay home with her children and “economize,” a concept she frequently voices.

Building a neat minibarn and pen, she keeps two goats. Eggs from a dozen chickens and a well-kept garden enrich our diet. We have few toys but lots of activity. Mama tells friends that she is “growing up with her children.”

She also promotes responsibility. My regular job is in the garage, where, using a red-wheeled hand mill, I grind bulk wheat and corn for the next morning’s breakfast. The work, for me, is not easy. If I tire quickly, there is, sadly, no second helping of porridge! Brought to a boil the previous evening, the freshly cooked meal is put into an insulated pot Mom calls a “fireless cooker.” Still hot, with a serving of goat’s cream, it makes an inexpensive but nutritious breakfast.

Having demonstrated a degree of dependability in this and other chores, Mama invites me to a “business meeting.” “You are learning responsibility, and it’s time for you to receive wages,” she says in her warm low voice. “I’ve decided to pay you 25 cents each week. If you do well you may, after a while, get a raise. We’ll see how you manage.”

I am thrilled. She is talking about real money! A miniature Model T Ford like Daddy’s flashes through my mind. I recall seeing one at Woolworth’s for 10 cents.

But Mama isn’t through. “Of course, you will want to pay tithe; five cents in two weeks.”

For me, the prospect of managing real money is exhilarating.

Two weeks pass, and I tell Mama I’d like to go shopping. Woolworth’s is less than two blocks away. While walking down Whittier Boulevard, I think of the roads I’ll make on the earthen mountain in a corner of the garden for the neat little car I am now able and eager to buy. I know where the toys are displayed and soon find the model I want.

But while waiting for a clerk, I pass a display of tableware. Included is an assortment of green glass serving dishes. I recall Mama saying a few days ago as she set the table that we could use another serving dish. Beyond my reach, at the back of the counter is a collection of serving bowls. I ask a clerk to hand me one that seems the right size. I learn it is priced at 29 cents! I think of Mama and know how I will spend my wages.

With a surge of excitement I give the clerk a quarter and a nickel. Running home, I’m walking on air; flushed with feelings of exuberant joy. I can hardly wait to deliver my gift.

Mama is ironing in the kitchen. Passing her, I take my treasure to the breakfast nook and remove it from the bag. “Look, Mama, I found a bowl, the kind you said you needed,” I exclaim. “I bought it for you!”

My beautiful mother pauses, then, looking puzzled, puts down her iron and sweeps me into her arms. Hugging me, she begins to sob. I wonder why she doesn’t say something. She just cries softly, kissing me and holding me close.

“Why are you crying, Mama? I thought you’d like it.”

But she cannot talk. Then hugging me again, she tenderly hums a tune. When she is composed, she says in her gentle, warm voice, “The dish is beautiful. I like it very much. But you are so beautiful. I love you so much more. Thank you! I shall always treasure it!”

A Father’s Love

Zephaniah was a truly spiritual prophet who witnessed internationally troubling times. While tirelessly warning surrounding nations of impending judgments, he prophetically assures his people of a revealing view of the welcome to be given the redeemed—the dramatic moment of final triumph and reunion.

Jesus said there’s rejoicing in heaven when one sinner repents and joins the family of His Father. Imagine the response in God’s heart when a countless multitude of the faithful is given the ultimate welcome. Consider the scene: For 6,000 years God’s once-
beautiful family has been fractured and afflicted. False accusations, disobedience, estrangement, hostility, and rebellion have characterized the behavior of many. Others, even denying the existence of their Creator, abuse and slaughter each other, threatening to destroy the very earth in a flaming holocaust.

But now the great controversy is resolved; the cosmic war is won. A great multitude of believers have responded to divine expressions of God’s unfailing love. The saved are secure, rejoicing in the stunning grandeur and beauty of the New Jerusalem.


With heart overflowing with emotion our heavenly Father opens His arms to receive His once-wayward children. In poignant language the prophet describes the moment: “The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love [Hebrew: “he will be silent in his love”], he will joy over thee with singing” (Zeph. 3:17, KJV).


Who of us has not found themselves unable to speak in a moment of deep emotion? Can it be so with the Father? Since the day of our creation, God has, often through silence, communicated His love through natural human relationships, the wonders and beauties of nature, the sacred writings, the heavens—all eloquently declaring the fullness of divine love. Can the human mind even begin to understand the emotion and power in the heart of God when, after a moment of silence, He joys “over the saved with singing,” and they, in that transcendent hour, are deemed beautiful?