George MacDonald, the 19th–century Scots preacher and writer whom C. S. Lewis hailed as “my master,” left us not only a shelf of wonderful sermons and novels, but also a little book of devotional verses, one for each day of the year, which he called Diary of an Old Soul. I keep it with my Bible and usually read that morning’s verse to start my devotions. His entry for yesterday, February 3, is one of my favorites:
Back still it comes to this: there was a man
Who said, “I am the truth, the life, the way:”—
Shall I pass on, or shall I stop and hear?—
“Come to the Father but by me none can:”
What then is this? am I not also one
Of those who live in fatherless dismay?
I stand, I look, I listen, I draw near.
The Scripture quoted is, of course, John 14:6. But in MacDonald’s hesitancy and self–questioning, I hear the echo of Pontius Pilate’s anguished words in Matthew 27:22, “What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?”
What will each and every human being make of Jesus and do about him? That is the supreme, inescapable issue for everyone on earth, once he or she has heard of this person “who is called Christ,” this man who said, “I am the truth.” No one in the world, if honest with himself, can deny that existence is haunted with fatherless dismay unless he has come to the Father by the one and only way, Jesus.
In my work at the higher altitudes of worldly pride and power, the intense arena of politics, media, and business, I find it especially interesting that even such biblical potentates as Pilate in the gospels, Governor Felix in Acts 24, and King Agrippa in Acts 26, all felt their complacency shaken by this lowly carpenter with his quiet but relentless authority.
Here at Centennial Institute are some extra copies of Diary of an Old Soul that I am glad to share with friends. Email me if you’d like one as a gift. There is a Christliness in MacDonald’s writing that gets under your skin.