Once, while visiting a large urban meeting, I heard someone in the bench in front of me tell of a certain Friend who was dying of AIDS and how in the previous few days his body had taken on a spiritual incandescence.

Then I remembered a lengthy and memorable discussion with the Friend five years earlier at the annual gathering of Friends General Conference; I was just then discovering Scripture, in large part through Myrtle Bailey’s gentle example, and this Friend told of his own struggles with the Apostle Paul, “who has written some of the loveliest passages on love, and also some of the ugliest.”

I wonder if he still held that view toward the end. By then, my appreciation of Paul had definitely deepened. His epistles reflect the struggle between divine inspiration and the administrative decisions he made on the fly. What we accept, after all, is still a yoke – a joining to the work at hand – and we are always learning what that entails.

Elizabeth Bathurst, on Job viii. 7: Though thy Beginning was small, yet thy Latter-end shall greatly encrease.

 

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