Sunday, March 13, 2011

RCW at 93 - Still A Fisher of Men

LANGHORNE, PENNSYLVANIA, U.S.A.  This is difficult for me. I am looking at the picture below of my 93-year-old father and I am asking the question of myself and of you. What do you see? There are some of you who do not know RCW at all. There are others that have met him but only know a little about him. Then there are those who have spent years with him, but like myself, still know that there is much to learn. Some are up front and personal with him on a weekly basis. Others like Rusty, his partner in life and the one that loves him perhaps more than all of us combined, lives with him almost "twenty-four/seven" as they say.

I wonder what all of you see in this picture. Perhaps you could tell me some time, and especially perhaps, tell him in some way. That is what I am going to try to do in the next few paragraphs. I do not have that eloquence of diction or perhaps the imagination that comes from the deeps springs of life. But maybe like RCW I am a growing tree firmly planted by streams of living water, Water that comes from the Source that never runs dry.

Luke wrote in his second chapter, "And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and in the sight of God and man." He grew intellectually (wisdom), physically (stature), spiritually (in the sight of God), and socially (in the sight of man.) The Two Great Commandments that Jesus acknowledges as a summary of all that the Law and the Prophets teach also relates to these four major areas of life. Then, in the last sentence of the previous paragraph that I wrote I eluded to what is written in Psalm One which outlines the difference between the rigtheous man and the ungodly man and the consequences of the paths that they follow.

I am not the preacher in the family. Dad has always been that. Personally I have always seen him as my Paul and I as his Timothy, but I am not one to stand in the pulpit or to pastor a church. Perhaps, like my mother, I am more like the Sunday School teacher, but perhaps for adults, those who can identify with the things that I write about. With all the above said as perhaps an introduction to this "essay of sorts," the question still stands - What do you see in the picture?

When this picture was first put on Facebook (yes our family does that), there were several comments. The person who took the picture, my wonderful sister Laura, used the words, "my precious Dad." One of his granddaughters wrote that he is indeed "precious" and that she talks about him all the time. One son used the word "awesome." The youngest brother of RCW used the words "Brother" and "Friend" and thanked the Lord for him. One of his grandsons wrote that he will always be proud to be a Winger because he has a grandpa that doesn't know how to quit. That kind of sets a "tone" to what we see in the picture does it not? It causes us to look a little deeper does it not? For now we know that what some of us felt when we first looked at the picture has been confirmed by others who have seen it before us. There is something Very Special here.

Now my Dad is not one that would ever want to be put up on a pedestal as a shining example of everything to which others should aspire. No, he would not want that and I am not going to do that here. We need heroes just like man has needed heroes in every generation. But perhaps they should be like the heroes that the author of the book of Hebrews writes about in the eleventh chapter and then writes these words in chapter thirteen which have become my "life-time verses" by which to live:

"Remember your leaders, those who taught you about God. Consider the outcome of their lives and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today, and forever." [13:7.8]

What do you see in the picture now? I see a man who has taught me about God. I see a man, who when I think of the outcome of his life, has a faith that if I did not imitate it, I would be a complete fool. Men and women who follow Christ and live with the power of the Holy Spirit in their lives, they will always be the same, yesterday, today, and forever, like Jesus Who is their shepherd. That will never change and that you can "take to the bank" as they say.

What do you see in the picture now? Look at his eyes. Do you see the compassion? Look at the firmness of his face. Do you see his quiet inner strength? Look at the calmness in his hands even though they are not laying flat. Does he make you feel at ease with life? He is ninety-three! Does he look like he has been blessed with the Grace of God all of his life? Sit down and talk to him and he'll tell you about that Grace - for sure. What do you think a man like this does for the lives of his family and friends? You will see what Christ has done through him in the outcomes of those who God has put in his journey through life. Even when they have failed or made mistakes the same God that He knows has picked them up, dusted them off, and told them, "Get back in there. We're not done yet. My plan is bigger than what you may have in your heart and mind. Start thinking in terms of 'Eternity.' Doing things in the here and now is fine. But you need to think about that very long hereafter too."

What do you see in the picture now? I see the Light in the face of a man who knows he is getting close to going to the other side of the river to the Promised Land, and he can already see the Light from the other side. The glow in his face is the reflection from that Light. He is coming to the shoreline of that River but who knows. Maybe he will get to stay on this side a while longer and do some more "fishing" with his family and friends. I certainly hope so and I know that you do too. By the way, what kind of "fish" do you think this man likes to catch the most? "Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men" said Jesus his Lord and Saviour.

Dad and I went fishing one time, up on Findley Lake I think it was, in western New York State. We rented a row boat and went out by this small island. We fished the old fashioned way with night crawlers. It seemed like every time we dropped a line in the water we caught a fish. We caught thirty-four fish that day - Sunfish and good sized Perch. It is funny how you remember details like that from over forty years ago. On the way home we stopped by a creek and cleaned them all. We ate good for a few days. The lady of the house knew how to do fish.

But I tell you what, being a "fisher of men." Now that is where it is at. Some like Dad do it from behind a pulpit, or on the golf course, or on the baseball field. Others like me try do it with the written word. But it is not us who do the "catching."  That is the Holy Spirit and in His time not ours.

So, now that I think about it, I think I have come up with my title for my copy of this picture of Dad and this essay. That was the primary difficulty I was having at the beginning of this piece and why I had to answer the question of what I saw in the picture.  You may have come up with a different title for your copy of the picture and your own answer to that question. But for me it is "RCW at 93 - Still A Fisher of Men."

If you are one of the "fish" that Dad, through the Holy Spirit, has "hooked on to," how has that changed your life? Take the time please to tell him "Thank you" - okay? :-) To protect their privacy I will share their address or phone number in a different way with those who may not have it. But do please consider contacting them. He and Rusty would be glad to hear from you. God bless you real good and...

Thank You :-)

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