Tag Archives: Albert Schweitzer

A Reminder of the Truest of All Stories

Story of the Day for Saturday September 8, 2012 

 

A Reminder of the Truest of All Stories

 

                On the tree, Jesus himself bore our sins in his body . . . by his wounds you’ve been healed. .

                                                                                   1 Peter 2:24

 

 

Albert Schweitzer’s two volume masterpiece on the life of J.S. Bach has pride of place on my living room bookshelf. But I do not admire him most as an author.

Schweitzer was a performing musician – packing concert halls throughout the world with his organ recitals. But I don’t admire him primarily as a musician.

At the height of his fame, Schweitzer left the cathedrals and concert halls to study theology. Even though he became world-renowned as a brilliant theologian, I don’t admire him most as a theologian.

When the academic world stood in awe of his theological insights, he resigned his professorship at the university to study medicine.

 

He went to med school, and, as soon as he was certified as a medical doctor, he got lost in the jungles of equatorial Africa and built a makeshift hospital to serve the poorest of the poor.

Albert Schweitzer’s interpretation of Bach helped me understand the majesty of God. His theology, unfortunately, didn’t help me understand much – other than to expose the tired dogmatisms of some of his contemporaries. But, I admire Schweitzer most for helping me to see that God would sacrifice himself to make me well again.

 

Schweitzer treated many diseases among the African natives, but he had no medicine to treat yellow fever. Then he heard that Professor Ernest Bueding had come from the U.S. to the Pasteur Institute in Paris. Along with fellow researchers, Bueding was experimenting with a vaccine for yellow fever.

One day, the Institute got a telephone call, inquiring about the vaccine. They informed him that the vaccine appeared to be successful, but that it had not yet been tested for side effects.

The phone caller appeared the next day and requested the vaccine. When told they couldn’t give him the vaccine until tests proved it was safe, the man replied that he intended to administer the vaccine only to himself – to personally verify its safety.

Dr. Bueding correctly suspected the anonymous caller was Dr. Schweitzer, and told the good doctor it would be foolish to try the vaccine in its experimental stage. But Schweitzer countered that he would not give his African patients anything he would not take himself.

Bueding finally caved in and injected Schweitzer with the experimental drug. After two days of observation at the Pasteur Hospital, Schweitzer was declared fit to travel back to his hospital in Africa – with a desperately-needed antidote for yellow fever.

 

At the organ bench and podium, Schweitzer dazzles us with his genius and virtuosity. But it’s his willingness to sacrifice himself for the sick in a remote African village that captures our highest admiration, for he reminds us of the truest of all stories.

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and Marty Kaarre)

Faith Trumps Daydreams

Story of the Day for Tuesday July 3, 2012

 

Faith Trumps Daydreams

                   We remember the words of our Lord Jesus: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” 

                                                    Acts 20:35

 

 What would it take for you to be happy and fulfilled?

If I were a betting man, I would guess it has something to do with money. (And the very fact I refer to betting suggests my focus is on gaining money.)

 

In 1913, Marion was born into a dream. She was raised in a Hungarian castle — attended by maids, butlers, governesses, and chauffeurs. When her family traveled, they brought their own linen, because using the bed sheets of the common people was below their dignity.

In Vienna, Marion met the movie director Otto Preminger, and soon they were married. They moved to southern California where Preminger’s career took off, and the couple basked in fame. Marion ascended the social ranks as a prominent Hollywood glamour queen with the wealth to feed her obsession for high living and the latest fashions.

When I imagine happiness, it harmonizes with Marion Preminger’s life: butlers serving hors d’oeuvres in my castle, or movie stars bidding for my attention.

 

But Marion wasn’t happy. She began to drown under the influence of alcohol and drugs, and the numerous affairs between her and her husband shattered their marriage. Depressed and desperate, Marion became suicidal.

Preminger fled from her broken life and returned to Europe — hoping to rise as a Parisian socialite.

 

As a little girl, she had heard stories of Albert Schweitzer, a world-renowned theologian and organist who retreated to Africa to serve the poor.  One day, she learned that Schweitzer was making a return visit to Europe and would be in Gunsbach in northeastern France. Preminger sought out Dr. Schweitzer and found him playing the organ in the village church.

After dinner at his house, Schweitzer invited Marion to come to Lambarene and join in the work at the African hospital.

The girl who had been raised in a castle, who had been pampered and spoiled, now found herself bathing babies, changing bedpans, and feeding lepers. In her autobiography, All I Want Is Everything, Marion says of Schweitzer: “I thank God he allowed me to become a helper, and in helping, I found everything.”

 

My daydreams and my faith don’t always get along. I blissfully dream of how happy I’d be with a bigger house and season tickets to Packers games. I never fantasize about finding fulfillment by changing bedpans.

But faith trumps daydreams. Life isn’t about how much we get but how much we give. Jesus had it right: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Turned into Excellence and Joy

Story of the Day for Saturday May 21, 2011

Turned into Excellence and Joy

                  Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart – as if you are doing it for the Lord and not for men.

                                                                                           Colossians 3:23

During World War I, Albert Schweitzer and his wife were interned at Garaison.

Shortly after they arrived, a handful of prisoners were brought in from another camp.  They grumbled at the poor food preparation.

The prison cooks, however, were professionals from the first-class hotels and restaurants in Paris.

The complaining about the poor food came to the attention of the Governor.  He asked the grumblers which of them were cooks.  None were.  The leader was a shoemaker, and the others were tailors, hatmakers, basketweavers, and brushmakers.  They told the Governor that they served as cooks in their previous camp and knew how to prepare food in large quantities.

The Governor put them in charge of the kitchen for two weeks.  If they could prepare better food than the Parisian chefs, then they would keep their job.  If not, they would be placed under lock and key as disturbers of the peace.

Their first meal consisted only of potatoes and cabbages, but everyone declared the meal delicious.  The prisoners proclaimed every succeeding meal a triumph.

The Governor installed them as the new cooks.

Dr. Schweitzer asked the shoemaker the secret of his success.  He replied: “One must know all sorts of things, but the most important is to do the cooking with love and care.”

Reflecting on that response, Schweitzer observed that he no longer gets upset when someone is appointed to a government position over which they know nothing.  Instead, he hopes that they have the passion and care for their position that a shoemaker had for his cooking.

Want to know a secret?  Most people think that the greatest satisfaction is found in high-status, high-paying jobs.  I can’t find the research at the moment, but that isn’t going to stop me from claiming that studies show little correlation between salary and job satisfaction.

The key is our heart.  When we seek to do a job well, we find the task to be extremely satisfying.

The Bible tells us to tackle any task by doing it with all our heart. By doing so, we can find fulfillment in anything we do.  Excellence is rewarding.

But what if you chose to do every task as an act of worship?  What if undertook every task, no matter how lowly, as if the Lord had asked you to do if for him?

The Lord does ask that you perform every task for him.  And when you transform it into an act of worship, the passion, the heart you put into it will turn it into excellence.  And joy.

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)