Over the last few years, we have gotten to know and respect one another. I think — and certainly hope — that this has become mutual.
He lives in a world very different to mine. His skills are very different. All his adult life, he has had a real gift for the intricacies of business and finance. But I suppose he would ruefully admit to possessing most of the attributes of that world. There tends to be an air about him of being a little impatient with small talk, and perhaps a hesitation to suffer fools gladly. There’s also the neat dark suit, the brisk walk, and the briefcase with its ever-bulging papers — those white sacramental signs of his being a creature of the marketplace, its corridors and offices, its taxicabs, airport lounges and boardrooms — a world where I happen to know he is regarded as honourable and generous.
Once I listened to him at an occasion to which he had invited me. From time to time, he meets with others in his business world who share his Christian faith. They gather to discuss what they regard as their journey of faith. On this occasion, it was his turn to give the short address that was always part of the lunch meeting. I realized as I listened that he had invited me so that I would overhear him say to others what he wished me to hear.
The language he used was very simple and clear. He spoke of being taught and of never forgetting the words of two hymns he had learned by heart in his growing years. One was from childhood: “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” The other hymn that he still recalled from his older boyhood was: “Will your anchor hold in the storms of life, when the clouds unfold their winds of strife?”
They are, as I said, simple things. You might even say, if you were in the mood to, that they are childish things. And yet we know that to possess such roots can be beyond price. I suspect that’s what someone else meant when He said many centuries ago, “Except ye become as little children, ye cannot see the kingdom of Heaven.”