It was a fall morning and I would have been in school but I was home, sick and in bed. My bed was in a small porch that had been enclosed and turned into a bedroom. The living room windows that had opened to the porch had been removed leaving two openings right over the head of the bed. As I lay there I heard my mother talking with a neighbor, who in one sentence permanently etched that moment in my memory, “Those missiles could even reach this far!” Suddenly our little house perched on a mountainside in Colorado lost all its security. That was a traumatic moment for a nine year-old. Years later I connected that moment with the Cuban Missile Crisis. Just over a year later another event equally marked my memory for life.
I was at school that November day. West Jefferson Elementary had added a few World War 2 army barracks to the mountainside to accommodate the growing student body. As I left a barracks to go down the main building a boy shouted, “The president has been shot!” All the other mornings at school are long forgotten but I can still see the entire scene of that mountainside with the school buildings these 50 years later. The following Monday but there was no school. We sat in front of the TV and watched the funeral procession of our former president.
The death of President Kennedy overshadowed the death, on the same day, of the Professor C.S. Lewis and English writer Aldous Huxley. Lewis is well remembered for the Chronicles of Narnia and Mere Christianity and Huxley for Brave New World. Lewis left atheism for Christianity while Huxley the humanist remained an agnostic. Lewis left us with an ultimate hope in the redeeming God while Huxley left us with a reminder of the despair of man when left in the hands of man.
Fifty years after the death of these three men I am no longer a boy of ten but a grandfather of ten. The world has changed much since 1963 but at his core man has not. We are still in need of great leaders and great thinkers but we must remember that of the three who died in November 22, 1963, only Lewis had led us to someone not restrained by political powers. Instead of war and despair only Lewis presented to the soul an avenue of redemption and joy in the eternal redeemer Jesus Christ who, being in the form of God humbled himself to die for the sin of presidents, assassins, and atheists, satisfying the just wrath of a righteous God against his enemies. Lewis reminded us to turn to the one man who died that many may live and hear the words, “Come farther up, come farther in!”
Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying,
“Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.”
He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision.
Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying,
“As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.”
I will tell of the decree: The Lord said to me,
“You are my Son; today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”
Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth.
Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.