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Archive for July, 2015

WHAT HEROES LOOK LIKE

longdistancerunner

RUNNING THE RACE THE RIGHT WAY

I had a somber visit with an old friend a few days ago. He is truly a dear friend to me and my family. I can honestly say that I love the guy. In fact, when I got a chance to finally see him again I got a little choked up (that’s guy talk for almost crying). You would think this would have been a happy event, but it wasn’t. For the first time in my life I had someone that I really love look me straight in the eyes and tell me that at best he had about 18 months to live. My friend is dying, and short of a miracle from God he will die very soon. When he explained his condition to me it didn’t seem real, and I tried to be of some encouragement, but I didn’t do a very good job. Regrettably, I think that I probably came across rather glib. I didn’t want to, but that’s probably how I came across. Needless to say that sometimes I can be very bad at encouragement. Now I knew that Dave was ill, but what I didn’t know was that his condition had deteriorated so much that all available treatments were now virtually ineffective; consequently, it was time for him to quit enduring them. Regrettably, Dave has a very painful type of cancer, so unless the Lord brings him home through some other event, or He calls His church to join Him, then Dave will have to rely on greater amounts of pain medication as the disease ravages his body.

However, when I think of Dave I don’t think of what he is going through now, instead I think of his life and how he spent it—or should I say how he “invested” it. Dave is a giver, and he is most giving for the cause of Christ, which is the gospel. Even when he retired he and his wife were constantly going on mission trips. That being said, however, Dave is not an evangelist. He is not a “gifted” preacher of the gospel, although he can confidently and astutely communicate it—Dave knows the gospel. Nevertheless, although his giftedness is not as an evangelist he loves Jesus so much that whatever he could do to ensure that the gospel would spread further around the world then Dave would do it. And generally for Dave that meant either giving or serving in some behind the scenes capacity.

As Dave and I talked, he didn’t complain about his current condition. There was not one ounce of bitterness about him, or disappointment about things he never got to do. Neither did Dave spend any time talking about all the past “great” things he had done in the name of Christ. In fact, when we prayed his entire focus was on God’s love for him though Christ, and how undeserving he is, but how thankful he is for God’s grace. Dave is not the type of guy that likes to draw attention to himself, in fact he is a rather quiet man. That being said, he is also a man with strong convictions, and his convictions are for things that really matter. Dave doesn’t waste much time with trivial stuff. I never heard him brag about the handicap of his golf game, I never watched him wax a hot rod, and I never saw him playing video games or some fantasy fill in the blank distraction. That being said, everyone who knows Dave likes and respects him. I don’t think there are many people who can pull that off with the authenticity that permeates Dave’s life.  Of course I know that Dave is not perfect, and Dave would be the first to admit it, and he would do so with an infectious laugh. So why am I writing about Dave. It’s because I think Dave is a hero, and we can certainly use more heroes in the church today. Some of you may think that it’s improper to have any hero other than Jesus. Yeah, I get that, but first of all I said Dave is a hero, I didn’t call him “Lord.” Moreover, Paul said that when we witness men and women live sacrificially and commendable for the cause of Christ that we should hold them in “high regard” (Col 2.29-30). Moreover, Dave is a hero because in spite of the difficult times ahead for him he is still running faithfully. Dave is running to win the prize to which Christ called him (Phil 3.12-14). And in spite of the heaviness of the load he now bears, he is still modeling what it means to be a man of God when the odds are stacked against you.

Dave may not be moving very quickly these days, but in God’s eyes I think he is sprinting towards his finish line. It’s as if God has given Dave a second wind, and he’s not wasting any of his remaining time, instead he is still investing in the things that really matter. He may look off balanced every now and then when he gets up from a chair, but he’s not stumbling down the course that God has set before him—he’s still in full stride and running straight. As you get older there are fewer things surprise you, and even fewer things that impress you. But when you meet someone who is still calling Jesus “Lord” and trusting in his grace while enduring one of life’s fiercest storms, then you’ll know that you have met someone who is the genuine article of what it means to be called a “Christian,” and if they have lived the type of life that Dave has, then you have also met a real hero.

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