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Encounter in Paris
|The English team, Paris 1952: Brian (front right) |
next to John Kendall-Carpenter, prime initiator
of the Rugby World Cup in 1987
(photo: Agence Photographique, Paris)
I was on a rugby tour in France in December 1948, with the Oxford team. After matches in Toulon and Grenoble, we came to Paris to play Stade Français, staying in the happily named Hotel du Printemps.
After the game two of us went into a coffee shop near the hotel and to my great surprise we talked about things I had never talked about before.
I wish I could remember what they were! All I can remember now is that I drank hot chocolate! One of my favourite drinks ever since.
But I do not forget the result, because the conversation continued back in Oxford. My friend put a challenge to me: to take time each morning to listen to God, to write down my thoughts and to compare my life with the purity and honesty of Jesus Christ.
I did not respond. It sounded rather strenuous. Besides, life was comfortable and seemingly successful, and I had a faith already. But there was no edge to it and certainly no Cross. And there was an authority in this person's life which I could not get away from.
So I did what he suggested - with a definite reluctance! I began with ten minutes; it became twenty, and steadily longer. I bought a Westclox alarm clock from Woolworths to help the process.
I decided to give the first hour of the day to the Lord, for always, to seek Him, seek His mind, read the Scriptures, write down my thoughts.
Out of self, into Christ, out to others - as simple and stretching as that.
Thank God He moves in unlikely places, and for that friend, Murray Hofmeyr, a brilliant sportsman who later played a big part in creating the new South Africa.
Moses writes in Psalm 90: 'Satisfy us with Thy love when morning breaks.'
And David in Psalm 5: 'At dawn, I hold myself in readiness for You.'
And in Psalm 63: 'O God, thou art my God: early will I seek Thee: my soul thirsteth for Thee, my flesh longeth for Thee in a dry and thirsty land where no water is.'
And Mark, chapter 1, verse 35: 'In the morning, rising up a great while before day, Jesus went out and departed into a solitary place and there prayed.'
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