Reflecting on the past couple of weeks I’m reminded of people in my life who are gone now, but never forgotten. My two most recent losses went way out of their way to scacrifice for and build into my life. First was my mom. She and my Dad took me in as a young child and did what they had to do at very diffcult time. This was not done out out of a sense of duty but with hearts full of love and compassion.
As we laid my friend to rest on Saturday, I saw many people at the memorial who were in one way or another inter-connected. The common factor was Jeff. Some were family, some were friends like me, some were colleagues and employees, some were teachers of his children, and then there were a number of men whose lives had been impacted in a positive way as a result of one of Jeff’s passion. And that was the passion of leading someone to the beginning of faith or to a deeper walk with God’s Son Jesus.
Jeff had a number of other passions too. A very obvious passion was photography, as evidenced by photo after photo shown in the video presentation at the service. Jeff must have had the single largest personal photo collection of anyone I’ve ever known. There are literally maybe a hundred or more volumes of photos of each of his children. I mean a whole long wall of albums. Jeff was truly a photo buff. I recall seeing a photo in his home of himself when he was maybe 9 or 10 years old. And what was around his neck? A camera. And the irony is that Jeff was color blind.
When do you do your best thinking? Strangely enough I do mine at two different times. One is in the middle of the night when I should be purring nicely. My mind starts racing and I have to get up and record my thoughts or loose them. The other time I get good information is when I am mowing my yard. I give myself a lot of advice when I mow. It may be the fumes or the heat but I get real clarity when I’m doing this. As I was receiving my self counseling session over the weekend in 96 degree heat. The thoughts that kept invading my pea brain is this. What long lasting effects do our inter-connections or relationships have on other people?
I’ve seen example upon example from others, of what NOT to do. And this runs the gammut from fathers, to employers and even so called friends in my 58 years. I’ve witnessed (and I’m sure you have too) time after time men (and women) who slander, insult, deride, berate and generally disregard the diginity and basic goodness of other people. They leave a path of destruction behind them and many times could care less. Who treated you that way? Are you endeared to them now?
We’ve also all seen good and even wonderful examples of people who live out the “golden rule”. They treat others with respect and care. They look for the good in people instead of looking for and maginfying the bad. We admire and respect people like this, don’t we? We hope that we will be like them.
But my question to us all is this. Are we really becoming who we admire? Are we following in the footsteps of that Dad, Grandad, Mother or friend that carved out a good path in front of us? Have we succumbed to the way of the world and seek only what is good for ourselves?
I suggest that we all take a long hard look at ourselves. If you’ve seen something in the life of Jeff or others that you’ve admired, start being like that wonderful attribute you’ve witnessed. Call someone and see how they are doing. Challenge them to greatness. There might even be a time when you need to call someone out. But even this can be done with care and in a loving way. I appreciate all the more when people care enough about me to tell me I am doing something wrong. And especially when I know they are doing this because they REALLY do want the higher good in my life and love me. Isn’t this the same purpose that we discipline our children?
As our lives go forward, let us all live our lives intenionally. Love others like today is your last. Complete tasks as if you won’t have a second chance. Treat your wife and kids with loving care. Teach them by the example with your own words and actions. Make sure there is enough evidence to convict you of loving people.
I will have more to say about Jeff later, but for now I will end by saying this. Jeff cramed more into his 47 years than most of us could handle in several lifetimes. And he did so full tilt, wide open, and usually sliding in sideways to a stop. He lived life to the full. He loved his wife and kids. He cherished life. Let’s do the same. Be inter-connected.