December 2, 2018
Across the bay on the island of St. John in the Virgin Islands, they still tell stories about my grandfather, Henry Roberts.
The one that I’ve heard the most – at least from my father – goes this way:
Ol’ Henry was walking alone on a road to town one day when three desperadoes, intending robbery, jumped him.
But Henry beat those boys – all three of them – to within inches of their lives.
He did such a thorough job that a judge told him, in so many words, “If I ever hear of you doing that to another person, I’m going to lock you up for life.”
My dad says I look like Henry Roberts.
I say that, especially spiritually, physical looks aside, I’m not nearly Henry Roberts tough.
I mean, there are times when in this pitch eternal struggle, I’d love to deliver a thrashing so devastating to Lucifer that he’d materialize and promise, on hands and knees, not to mess with me ever again.
But instead, all I do, at times, is stand and or sit there and let him whip me – curl me around his little finger and drag me sometimes down into despair.
Well, that is, of course, before I began to be more consistent about letting the Holy Spirit guide me through the battle.
Now it seems clear that when I get caught in Satan’s webs, I don’t get burned as badly as I used to before all the divine guidance.
And I ain’t bragging.
That’s the Holy Spirit working.
I’m still no tough guy, especially when it comes to withstanding temptation and my own humanness.
On that, too, I know I’m not alone.
And that’s just one reason why the Holy Spirit is most definitely God’s greatest gift to us since Jesus.
The Spirit will always comfort us – guide us and keep us until Jesus returns to take us to glory.
Not even the strongest person in mind, body and spirit could ever even think about doing a mere fraction of all that.
We’re way too weak.
Memory helps keep that locked in my psyche too:
Once, as I was growing up, one of the toughest and meanest kids in my neighborhood stopped me on the street.
I was wearing a new pair of sunglasses that I had bought.
But the mean kid said they looked like a pair that he had owned, so they must have been his. He snatched them off my face.
When I protested, he told me to “beat it.”
A Henry Roberts descendant would have jumped all over that mean kid and taken back my sunglasses.
Wrong – I didn’t do that.
I did, however, consider the meanness of that bully.
I also decided that the sunglasses weren’t my style and seemed to look better on him.
So I let him keep them – and I wasn’t consciously taking some moral Christian high road either.
I wasn’t a member of any church at the time. And my mind and heart were not set on Jesus.
Plainly and simply, even my Henry Roberts – influenced spirit didn’t want to stand up to that kid that day.
Maybe all of me might have wanted to be more bold on another day – but not on that day.
Because that’s us – Christians and un-Christians alike.
Thank you God for Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
“It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man” (Ps. 118:8).