Weekly Thought – October 27, 2020
Fred built deep, lasting friendships. His commitment to loyalty and confidentiality allowed his friends the freedom to know he was trustworthy and true. These words were delivered to the Elliott Class of the Highland Park Presbyterian Church at the death of his dear friend Jim Smith, who was not a blood relative, but a certain brother in Christ and beloved teacher of the class.
Between Here and Eternity
Yesterday afternoon Jim asked me to come over so he could say goodbye. We sat, held hands, laughed, prayed, talked, and just kept quiet together. Two or three times he said, “This is a blessed time.” It was a time when we blessed each other, recalling the many years of friendship and experiences we had shared. He spoke of his surprise at not going into remission. He firmly believed it would happen. But then in true faith style he said, “It’s all right. Let God’s will be done.” There was no despair, only peace and assurance.
I asked him what it would be like to die without the Lord. “Sheer terror” was his answer.
He told me how much he appreciated the friends who paid off the mortgage on the family home. What a wonderful way to use wealth. That blessing went both ways: to the family and to the giver.
After I left him I sat with the family. They could see I had been crying and they gathered around me, held my hand, and put their arms around me for support. We all stood there upholding each other.
On his mind, also, was this class. I am convinced this class was Jim’s finest work. It was closest to his heart. Year after year we talked together about the class and never once did I ever hear him say, “my class.” It was always “the class.” He knew he didn’t own it; it owned him. The class wasn’t part of his ego, but part of his love. This class is a living memorial to Jim.
A sociological study defined great men and women by the strength of their ideas, how far it reaches, and how influential it is in the lives of others after their death. Jim will never completely die so long as we continue in what he has taught us. When my mentor, Maxey Jarman, died people asked me how I felt and I said, “Maxey will never be dead as long as I’m alive because I am carrying out the things he taught me.”
Once, sitting in the lobby of the Gibson Hotel in Cincinnati, I overheard two writers, one younger, the other older, talking to each other. The younger asked the older, “If you had your life to live over, what would you do?” Without hesitation, the older woman replied, “If I had my life to live over I’d find a cause big enough to give myself to.” Jim had no regrets for having given himself to this class.
As I talked to Jim I realized that he was submitting to the Spirit, not giving up. The act of submission is an act of the will, an act of worship. It is a victory, not a defeat. He crosses from earth to heaven knowing he fulfilled his work and finishes well.
This week carefully consider: 1) Whose life is still going on through me? 2) What is my big cause? 3) How can I submit to the Spirit this week with joy?
Words of Wisdom: “The class wasn’t part of his ego, but part of his love.”
Wisdom from the Word: “My teaching will drop like the rain; my sayings will drip like the dew, as rain drops upon the grass, and showers upon new growth.” (Deuteronomy 32:2 NET Bible)