NOTE: I wrote this four years ago. Don was called home to the place prepared for him by Jesus Christ this past week. Today, his family and friends will gather to celebrate his life and faith as we lay his body to rest.
Please keep the family in your prayers as they learn to live without Don’s nearer presence and as they celebrate Don’s nearer presence with God!
Don is an older gentleman who I recently visited at his home. He’s the dad of one of my very best friends. Don and his wife Jane still live in the same house that I used to visit when hanging out with their son when we were in high school.
Don is in his 80’s now. He suffered a stroke a couple of years ago but has recovered pretty well. When I visited him, he and his lovely wife and I caught up on what was happening in our lives. I could tell, however, that Don was waiting to tell or show me something that meant a lot to him.
All through the first part of our visit he had a twinkle in his eyes and he could barely sit still because he was excited. I finally asked, “So, what are you doing these days?”
Don jumped up and said, “Let me show you!”
He led me down to the basement, to his workshop. In his workshop were table saws, lathes, power grinders, and tools. Hanging from the beams were old, big keys – like the kind that open dungeons. Old spoons, knives, and hand tools were displayed on boards, stored in open boxes and scattered on the work bench.
Don and Jane visit antique shops and events through the Midwest and collect rusted tools, knives, utensil and the like. Don then takes them back to his workshop, cleans them up, and re-sells them at antique shows. As Don was showing me his workshop, I could tell that he had a passion for this. As I thought about it later, I came to the realization that I wanted to have that kind of passion about something – and I do.
Cleaning up bits of junk and old tools isn’t something the world would find worthy of time or passion, and maybe in and of itself it isn’t. But for Don it is something that he can do with his time, his hands, and his mind. He can give himself to this activity. His reward is to see something beautiful come from something that had been rusted, dirty, and discarded. He makes treasure out of junk.
And, of course, this is exactly what God does with me. He took a broken, sinful man, and made me a husband and father and pastor. Not that I think I’m some kind of treasure, but I do treasure the calling God has given me in all three of those areas. I’m able to love – and be loved – by a beautiful woman. I’m able to love and share and cultivate three young men into men of God. I’m able to teach and preach about the love of Jesus Christ with people at my church and in my community.
When Don is able to grind and buff off the rust of a 100 year old hand tool, he makes it new and usable again. I’m thankful that God continues to do that to me, too!