Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Amazing Obedience


[Photo of a Scripture verse]

“My soul glorifies the Lord and my
spirit rejoices in God my Savior…”
—Luke 1:46a

When I first began hanging out at my hometown radio station at age 12 back in 1959, I soon learned what it meant to have an employer/employee relationship. While there were one or two other key executives housed in the downtown newspaper office who had managerial responsibility for the radio station, one man truly was the boss, as far as the announcers were concerned.

William M. Winn wore several hats. He was clearly the on-site representative of management. His domain was a relatively small concrete block building at the edge of town, just a few dozen yards from the base of the transmitter’s antenna that broadcast the 1000 watt daytime/250 watt nightime signal of radio station WESB in Bradford, PA.

Bill Winn was Chief Engineer, holding the coveted First Class Radiotelephone License from the Federal Communications Commission. He was also the Program Director, News Director, and Sports Director. As you can see, Bill Winn was clearly in charge.

Bill ruled this radio kingdom with a very light-handed touch. He was fundamentally a very kind and patient man. I have since learned that many radio station engineers have a unique brand of patience. They must have this quality if they are to adequately maintain the complexity of the electronic equipment involved in transmitting radio signals.

At the same time, the announcers, and even the janitor for the radio station, knew that Bill was in charge. I never heard Bill raise his voice. I never heard him argue with anyone. But, I did observe him having more than a few heart-to-heart talks with announcers—gently persuading them to do the things he needed them to do.

For their part, the announcers responded very well to Bill’s style of leadership. But, at the same time, it was clear to them that it was always in their best interest to bend their will to his wishes. They learned—and I learned, too, at my relatively tender age—the importance of obedience.

Every few months, Bill would ask me to accompany him at night to the radio station. As soon as the announcer signed off for the night at a few minutes past midnight with the playing of the Doris Day version of the classic Isham Jones/Gus Kahn song “I’ll See You in My Dreams,” Bill would settle down to complete an audio “Proof of Performance” test on the station’s transmitter (sometimes known as an “Equipment Performance Measurement” or EPM). This was required by the FCC, but perhaps not as frequently as Bill wanted to run the test. I’m pretty certain he did the test more frequently in order to make certain the station was getting every bit of distortion-free audio signal out of the Gates transmitter that was possible to obtain.

My role, on these occasions, was to keep Bill company and to be present in case anything happened to him while he was working on the high voltage section of the transmitter. In a sense, I was there for safety purposes. Bill also let me help him with various tasks, which, in turn, helped me learn about the transmitter and how to maintain it.

Throughout this adventure, obedience was key. When Bill would tell me what he needed me to do, I had the responsibility of doing what he asked in exactly the way he asked me to do it. It was a very, very valuable lesson for me to learn as a teenager.

Another teenager who obviously learned a great deal about obedience in a very short order found herself in the strangest possible circumstances. We’ve been talking about her over the course of the last few blog posts. Her name was Mary. She lived in the little, dusty town of Nazareth.

You see, as we’ve already discussed previously, an angel of the Lord had appeared to her and told her that, even though she was a virgin, should would conceive a child by the power of the Holy Spirit, and give birth to a baby boy. This was no ordinary baby. He was the Son of God. She was to give him the name “Jesus.” He would redeem the people of the world from their sins. He was, in fact, the promised Messiah—or in the New Testament Greek language, the Christ—who had long been expected by the Jewish people.

Upon hearing this news, and a few months later, upon visiting her older cousin Elizabeth, who was also expecting a baby, Mary was moved by Elizabeth’s greeting to pray this prayer of obedience, as recorded in Luke 1:46-55:

And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name.

“His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.

“He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.”

As we begin this new day, may we have within the depths of our spirit that same devotion to serving God and following His pathway that this young Jewish virgin had. God rewarded her with the honor of bearing His one and only Son.

The beauty and glory of the Incarnation is embodied in the kind of obedience to God’s perfect will that Mary displayed on this singular and most holy occasion.

May our lives proclaim with fervor that same kind of obedience.


Copyright © 2016 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.