Marguerite Davis, Age 100

Marguerite Davis, my grandmother-in-law, turned 100 last Saturday. She was born on March 5, 1916, and spent the first part of her life in Fall River, Massachusetts, before settling in North Attleboro. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about how amazing it is that she is a century old! So I decided to share some of these thoughts with you.

When she was born, women couldn’t vote yet. That wouldn’t happen for another four years. Woodrow Wilson was President of the United States and World War I was at its height. When little Margie was one month old, the toggle light switch was invented. Around that same time, the Chicago Cubs played their first game at what would come to be called Wrigley Field. At two months, the Saturday Evening Post ran its first cover featuring a Norman Rockwell painting. At five months, the National Park Service was created.

She was nearly three years old when Theodore Roosevelt died. She became a teenager in the Roaring Twenties, and was a teenager when the stock market crashed in 1929, ushering in the Great Depression. When Margie was 14, the chocolate chip cookie was invented—also in Massachusetts. When she was in her thirties, Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier.

I find it interesting to think what the world was like when Margie was my age. At that time, Elvis Presley scandalized TV viewers with his hip thrusts while singing “Hound Dog.” President Dwight Eisenhower instituted the Interstate Highway System. The Montgomery bus boycott ended, and Yankees pitcher Don Larsen pitched a perfect game against the Brooklyn Dodgers in the World Series.

Speaking of baseball, being a big baseball fan, I can’t help but think of history in baseball terms. When Margie was born, the reigning batting champ was Ty Cobb. The reigning World Series champions were the Boston Red Sox, who would go on to win another title that year against the Brooklyn Robins. In fact, the Red Sox had a star pitcher who would win 23 games that season while leading the league with nine shutouts and a 1.75 ERA. His name was Babe Ruth.

I really got into Major League Baseball when I was 11 years old, in 1986. That was the year Bill Buckner made the error and the Mets beat the Red Sox in the World Series. If Margie had gotten into baseball at the same age, it would have been 1927—the year that Babe Ruth hit 60 home runs as he and Lou Gehrig led the “Murderers Row” Yankees to a World Series title.

Something that really helps me put the historical significance of Margie’s age into perspective is to consider people that were alive at the same time as her. In addition to Teddy Roosevelt, she was alive at the same time as the inventor Alexander Graham Bell, writers Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes), Jack London (The Call of the Wild), and L. Frank Baum (The Wizard of Oz), cowboys Wyatt Earp and Buffalo Bill Cody, Abraham Lincoln’s son Robert Todd Lincoln, escape artist Harry Houdini, painter Claude Monet, musician Scott Joplin, Nicholas II (the last czar of Russia), and communist revolutionary Vladimir Lenin. Most interesting to me is that not only was Margie alive at the same time as Lizzie Borden (as in “Lizzie Borden took an ax and gave her mother 40 whacks…”), but for about 10 years they actually lived in the same town of Fall River (also known as the home of chef Emeril Lagasse and Hank the Angry Drunken Dwarf).

So far everything described is from Margie’s lifetime. But we can also work backward. For instance, remember when JFK was shot? (Before my time, but you might have been around.) That was 53 years ago. Work back 53 years from when Margie was born, and that’s when Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

One of the neat things about spending Margie’s 100th birthday with her was getting to see my daughter’s interactions with her great-grandmother. Margie is 93 years older than Laura Marie. Someone who was 93 years old than Margie could have met Beethoven and been old enough to remember him. In fact, she is closer in age to Leo Tolstoy, Billy the Kid, Stonewall Jackson—and in fact most Civil War veterans—than she is to Laura Marie. She’s even almost closer in age to Queen Victoria!

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There’s an old proverb which says that when an old person dies, a library burns to the ground. I love how Marguerite Davis is a living library who is still going strong after a solid century!

Published in: on March 8, 2016 at 1:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Fear of the Lord is the Beginning of Wisdom

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!” (Psalm 111:10)

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. This means that when we give Him proper respect as the ultimate authority, we can then begin to learn what is good and right. There are two important parts of this truth that are important for us to grasp.

First is that we can never be wise if we place anyone’s viewpoint above God’s. This might seem obvious, but it’s easier to agree intellectually than to actually live it out. We might tell ourselves that God has the first and last word in our lives, but it could be that—at least in some areas—our choices are shaped more by our favorite talk show host, our spouse, our political affiliations, or our own desires. But if the starting point for our worldview is anything other than God’s Word, it can produce nothing more than counterfeit wisdom at best.

Second is that the fear of the LORD does not make a person wise—it is only the beginning of wisdom. It’s how you step onto the playing field. Right now a bunch of Major League hitters are in spring training preparing for the upcoming season. Of the millions of kids who have dreamed of playing professional baseball, these guys are the elite. And it all started the first time they picked up a bat. Of course simply picking up a bat does not make you a Major League-caliber hitter. But it’s the very first step. None of these athletes in spring training became great hitters just by playing basketball or chess or Trivial Pursuit. They had to actually pick up a bat. That is the one nonnegotiable starting point. To be wise, the one nonnegotiable starting point is humbly acknowledging that God—and God alone—is the One on the throne.

However, when it comes to living wisely, we shouldn’t settle for merely getting started. As this verse continues, it gives us clear instruction on how to grow in wisdom: practice. Back to baseball: there was a ton of time and sweat invested in the journey of every Major League hitter to progress from the first time holding a bat to smashing a 95-mile-an-hour fastball. That journey is summed up in one word: practice. Practice, practice, practice. They say that practice makes perfect. That’s not quite true. But practice does make good. Psalm 111:10 says that once we begin with the fear of the LORD, we gain a good understanding through practice. It begins with small steps, making wise choices out of reverence for God. Then we get better at it. Wisdom becomes our programmed way of thinking (which is not to say it’s easy!) and acting.

Wisdom is not something we have—it’s something we do. It’s how we live. To live wisely, we must begin with total submission to God and then let that submission dictate the direction of our lives moment by moment, day by day.

“Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom…. the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere” (James 3:17).

Published in: on March 8, 2016 at 10:04 am  Leave a Comment