SCRIPTURE: Psalm 107:7-9 (TM)
He put your feet on a wonderful road that took you straight to a good place to live. So thank God for his marvelous love, for his miracle mercy to the children he loves. He poured great draughts of water down parched throats; the starved and hungry got plenty to eat.
A young couple moves into a new neighborhood. The next morning while they are eating breakfast, the young woman sees her neighbor hanging the wash outside. ”That laundry is not very clean”, she said. “She doesn’t know how to wash correctly. Perhaps she needs better laundry soap” Her husband looked on, but remained silent. Every time her neighbor would hang her wash to dry, the young woman would make the same comments. About one month later, the woman was surprised to see nice clean wash on the line and said to her husband: “Look, she has learned how to wash correctly. I wonder who taught her this?” The husband said, “I got up early this morning and cleaned our windows.”
And so it is with life. What we see when watching others depends on the purity of the window through which we look.
Oh so many years ago, as a young pastor, the appointment system of the Methodist Church took our family to live on a street in St. Petersburg. We had neighbors of all sorts. There Methodists from a different church. There were Catholics. There were Lutherans. All of them were unique and loving and supportive. It was a great neighborhood. It was probably the best neighborhood we have ever lived in.
There was one family, members of our new church to which we were assigned. Their sons were mere teenagers. Tom, Pearl, Doug and Tommy Lang became more than just neighbors ... more than just mere friends ... more than fellow Christians on the journey through life. They became family.
Our lives began to be woven together. They walked with us through happy times and sad, through laughter and tears, through death, adoption, baptism, and weddings. Our hearts were interwoven at every turn of life. They sure made our journey a lot easier during a particular difficult time.
They placed no expectations or requirements on us as they lent their new car to us when it wasn’t possible for me to journey with my wife and sick son for those many, many medical trips to Gainesville. Their Tennessee home became a second home to us for some much needed vacations. They were special … very special … extra ordinarily special.
Through their love, concern, support and sharing they taught our young family how to see others … with a purity of heart and soul. We are eternally thankful.
Yesterday evening the patriarch of that wonderful family entered into life eternal. Tom will be missed. He left a hole on earth that no one else can fill, but he took his seat among all the saints of the church before the throne of our Mighty God.
Tom was a college professor by trade, a Sunday school teacher by desire, a gentle soft-spoken man by design, and a Christian by choice … but he was always teaching by words, lifestyle or action. The window through which he saw the world around him was clean, clear and pure. For his life, his witness, his lifestyle, his servants heart, his teachings we remain ever grateful.
He shared with me on Thursday from his hospital bed, “When the EMT people were wheeling me in this morning I told God that I am ready to come home if that is God’s plan or if my task here on earth isn’t finished and God has something else for me to do here on earth, well, that’s okay with me as well. I’m okay and ready either way.”
His journey on earth is now finished, but his joy is just now starting to be realized in all of God’s glory! Praise be to God!
Thank you for sharing your servant Tom with us for these many years. Our lives were touched, transformed and made better because he touched us in so many ways. The window through which we see others and the rest of life is a lot cleaner because of him.