Can God and Fools be separated?

I like it when others enter the conversation. Eight of you have done so and I think your words echo back your understandings of the moniker, The Old Fool.  I begin with Peter who was not one of the eight. He began this conversation. This is my attempt to reflect your thoughts on my title:  (You may find comments by clicking here and reading the comments).

  • Peter, You DO NOT LIKE my references to myself as an “Old Fool.” You say there is already enough disrespect for the aging in our culture;  so I  should not be enabling the younger generation in what may be demeaning to myself and others.
  • Myron, you say that there are more fools than I, so I could call myself the Older Fool
  • Mary, you say you are uncertain about labeling anyone, even oneself. You think Martin Lehman is the best name for me.
  • Grace, You remind me that it depends from whose perspective I see myself. The Father sees me through Christ as “Accepted & Righteous” and a “Son.” Jesus says I am his “Beloved.” You ask why don’t I see myself as God sees me?  You know that some people may think me to be egotistical  but you believe my Heavenly Father would shout “AMEN my son! You got it!”
  • Alton, You like my current moniker though you wonder what it means to be a fool for Christ. Secondly, you like the moniker because it suggests that at least one Mennonite has the humility to admit that he does not know everything.
  • Carl, You have never been comfortable with my self identification as an “Old Fool”; but you gave me the right to label myself. You remembered that in “My Faith Pilgrimage” I had related how I first took on the title, you read that piece again. You say that I am certainly not a fool as we usually use the word; You asked me to unpack why and how I use that title.
  • Freda, You understand my jovial nature which causes me to name myself the old fool. It is difficult for you to think of me as the fool, because  you consider me to be one of the wisest and most interesting personalities you have met. But, you understand and will overlook it! You want me to take good care of the “old fool.”
  • Judy,  You too are turned away by the title “the Old Fool,” even though you understand how I came to call myself by that title. You say that in one sense we could all be called fools since we are foolish in our decision making to the point of sinning, so we are all sinners saved by Grace. You ask, if God sees us as Beloved Creations of His, who are we to call ourselves anything derogatory especially if it is offensive to some that care and love us.
  • Raymond,  You said you have no need to think of me solely as the Old Fool  since you have no problem with the moniker. You propose that we all might learn from it. You do not see it as degrading. You believe that a sense of humility is in order for all humans. You think I may be identifying a truth we do not like. You don’t like it but you do not deny it. You say that you, yourself, are a fool and loved by God and that makes all the difference.
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The boy, Mafrtin

In the above, I’ve tried to reflect your varied thoughts about the Old Fool byname. If I have been unfair, or have missed a salient point, please reenter the conversation.  Only one of you commented on what I wrote 17 years ago.  I think you missed an important aspect of the message.  I gave myself another name. I dubbed myself a sinner. an old sinner, doomed if left to myself. My defense of the new name follows:

When I was only nine years old,  I “stood” during a revival meeting.  By that act I confessed my sinfulness and declared my faith in Jesus as my Savior.

Tower on Bald Mountain overlooking Shaver Lake. Best remembered tower

Tower on Bald Mountain overlooking Shaver Lake. Best remembered tower

Sixty years ago at age 20 I was a Conscientious Objector in the Civilian Public Service.  During that time I spent four months alone on fire lookout towers of the Sierra National Forest in California

I took two important books with me:  the Bible and the black hymnal used by Mennonite churches  at the time. I focused on Romans 1-8. I read and reread those those eight chapters.

I’ll try to wrap those chapters into a sentence or two: Everyone has sinned, the law condemns everyone,   everyone can be saved and though everyone struggles everyone fails to be what they know they ought to be.

The old man learns to sort pills while in health care

The old man practices pill-sorting  while in health care

In spite of this Paul ends chapter 8 with confidence: “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  A fool or a sinner, God loves me.

I did sing through the whole hymnal. A few hymns I sang daily.  They were prayers. One was “Lord, Speak to me.”  A beautiful youtube rendition of this hymn can be found by clicking here. That song helped set the direction of my life.

Hear echos from past?
We were not who we should be
past is not enough

About Martin Lehman

I was born 92 years ago, the son of a Mennonite pastor and organic gardener in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. At age 10 I was baptized as a member of the Marion Mennonite Church. I own the "Old Fool" moniker because I want to walk the Jesus Way even though the world and much of the church takes me as a fool for doing so. In my life I have moved from being a young conservative to an elderly radical. I tell that story in My Faith Journey posted on my website.
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4 Responses to Can God and Fools be separated?

  1. Jep says:

    The hymn alone, beautifully done, was worth reading the entire blog. Thank you Martin, for being a wise friend, a jovial spirit, and an eternal learner.

  2. Merle Cordell says:

    Martin, I remember well when you were in that tower. My brother, Irvin went with the group. While you were helping the country in your way, I was farming for my father to help feed everyone. I kept farming for my financial support, but the church thought I should do other work. As you know I followed your Dad as minister at Marion, then bishop, administrator in conference, public school teacher for fifteen years, … too many jobs to do any well.
    I follow all your blogs and appreciate your ability to express yourself.

    • I remember your brother well. He was in charger of our car on the troop train to California and also best man at our wedding. I remember a conversation in which he told me of a visit to reprimand a church member and he said he told fellow ministers that he would never do that again. The last I knew of him he was going to churches with my cousin John Clark from Menno Haven.

  3. Carl Metzler says:

    Thanks for the reflection, Martin. To those of us who know you and your writing, you have given new meaning to “Old Fool”. May God bless you and give you strength and wisdom to continue blogging.

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