I would like to tell you a story today about the strongest gentle man I ever knew.
I met him when I was quite young and he, to my childish eyes was very old. (I am now almost 15 years older than he was at that time!) He was always safe. I knew that even when he was angry or disappointed with me, I had no worry about his displeasure showing in an abusive way. When I was young I thought he was perfect, but as I aged, I found that he had faults just like everyone else.
He grew up in a time and a family where men did not readily show emotions, although as he aged he learned to let them out a bit. He expected great things from me, sometimes it seemed more than I was able to give, but I learned that was his way of showing love for me. He showed his love most readily by sacrifice and service. When his family needed to move to a safer locale, he left his tenured job that he enjoyed to give them a chance at a new life. He spent many years surrounded by kids in scouts and church groups, helping to teach and lead them, rather than take his summers to pursue his own interests. Nearly every Sunday and many nights he could be found at the church, leading and teaching and helping.
His faith was important to him. While he did not make a big show of it, his life was run the way he believed God would have it. As I grew older he and I had many disagreements about God and faith. He never tried to force me to believe his way, but neither did he back away from his beliefs, even when as a teenager I said some ugly, hateful things. As a young married adult, I moved my little family into his home, and he welcomed them with open arms. Even when I emotionally abandoned them he loved them and me. He never berated me for my poor choices, but simply offered help and support.
It was only after I had matured a little that I began to see him as he really was, good and bad, and to truly love and respect him.
He went home to be with his God yesterday and I know that there will always be a hole in my heart for my Daddy, the strongest gentlest man I ever knew.
Charles Walter Reader
April 16, 1926 – December 22, 2014
This will be a difficult post to write. Not because of any earth shattering thing. Not because I failed miserably, but because it will be hard to not sound like I’m patting myself on the back.
The other day a very dear person to me confided and confessed a sin that will have long term effects in his life and mine. Now because of our relationship, I have the authority to speak into his life. At that moment I had a choice. I could condemn his actions and heap shame on him, blame him for acting foolishly, or reproach him for bad decisions. OR, I could model God’s love to him. I could empathize with him in the pain. I could help him to formulate a plan to move forward. I could let him know that no matter what he has done, he is always welcomed and loved here.
Our model in all things is Christ. What would he have done? To the Samaritan woman at the well, He brought her to the knowledge of sin then offered her the hope of relief. To the woman caught in adultery He defended her from the mob who wanted to punish her then offered her forgiveness. To the rich young ruler, He invited him to lay aside everything else and follow Him. To Nicodemus, He offered a new start and a new life.
I’m happy to say that God won the day. We were able to calmly and lovingly work through the issues surrounding his sin and what might happen. I believe he felt loved and accepted. That has not always been the case. Many times in my life (even most) I have been hard and unforgiving. I believed the way to keep someone accountable was to clearly lay down the law and rigidly hold to the consequences of violating that law. But what did that get me? A wife who was afraid to speak freely around me, kids who hid from me, friends who didn’t include me in their plans.
What has made the difference in me? Forgiveness. Truly understanding that I am not the shining example I thought myself to be. Realizing that I am a terribly flawed man. Accepting God’s forgiveness for my sin and welcoming His correction in my life. While I am not the man I want to be, thank God, I am not the man I once was.
From the cab of a truck I get to see a lot of things. One that nearly always makes me smile is the sight of a dog riding in a car. I find typically that they are in one of three states; sleeping like a log, bouncing around the inside, or head stuck out the window.
It struck me today that I could learn a lot about trust and faith in the Master from dogs!
- When the master says jump in they rarely quibble about it, they’re in!
- They have no clue where they are going, they just trust the master to be with them.
- They have no idea of any danger around them, after all, the master will keep them safe.
So too, my response when I’m in unfamiliar circumstances must be:
- Trust the Master and rest.
- Fully enjoy everybody that’s riding with me.
- Immerse myself in the experience.
- Don’t worry about where He is taking me, He knows.
The LORD bless you, and keep you; The LORD make His face shine on you, And be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His countenance on you, And give you peace.’ Numbers 6:24-26 (NASB77)