A Gentle Man Goes Home
An elderly man was enjoying lunch with friends and one of his daughters after church one Sunday, and the conversation was one of joy and reflection. The conversation turned towards the daughter to convey to her 90-year old dad time had come his driving days were over. The daughter felt the tension in having to ‘suggest’ there’s no need to drive any more. While some people, even at that age, may find difficulty in letting that piece of independence go. This gentleman accepted the suggestion gracefully. A few minutes later the daughter left. With his wry almost childlike grin, the elderly man looked at his friend, smiled and said, “I don’t know why it’s such a big deal. I have another set of keys.”
As the years click by, many of us find ourselves realizing life wasn’t made to rush, hurry and work all of our days. We’ve shared what real success looks like – a healthy rhythm between your ego, results and relationships. Some of us figure that out sooner than others and some of us never get it. Life is about making the time to have better relationships, and some of those relationships lead us to have the opportunity to share the gospel as our elderly friend did his entire life. The term Renaissance man is often overused. However, in this gentle man’s life, truer words couldn’t be more accurate.
A Renaissance man is skilled at many different things. Some of us have skills and interests in many different things. Yet it’s another thing to be dedicated at being very good at many different things. Some of us are characterized by friends and colleagues as leading multiple lives because of our skill. Yet, what gets so often missed is that it’s not about the skill. Rather, it’s the desire to commit, serve and see it through whatever we choose in life to be good at.
This Renaissance man, had another set of keys. One set was his faith. One set was his skill at running; having completed ten marathons. It’s a lifelong accomplishment to complete one let alone ten! But wait! There’s more…he had another set of keys in woodworking having handcrafted many violins and one viola. No one certainly wakes up one day and exclaims, “today, I will build violins.” No, having the passion as a musician, and an extremely talented violinist as a first chair for years in a metropolitan city symphony does that. When you have another set of keys, you’re compelled to always give a set away – as a good friend, a wise counselor and as a great listener.
When someone dedicates their life in the service of others and especially to his maker, many people laud the accomplishment, desire and dedication one has of self-sacrifice. What many people miss entirely is how dificult that sacrifice truly is. We are in a real live battle on this earth and sadly many people are blithely unaware of that fact. To serve people in the service of God takes a bold and courageous heart, head, hands and habits to extend faith – to lead and lead well! Armoring up is a daily habit and stepping out on faith takes courage and boldness to overcome the tricks and snares the enemy has in store for us. And, it’s soul draining on our lives and the people we love. This gentle man smiled this great smile as if he had a secret no one else knows about. Why? Because he has another set of keys.
How should a Christian model their life?
How should a Christian model their death?
An example of how we should live and love is embodied in our warm, gentle man. One who loves God in his entirety and one who loved people enough to dedicate his life in service of His work. The promise rests in the process and he embraced death with love and joy in his heart just as he had for his bride ‘with the light brown hair’ and now he gets to see her in glory. Another set of keys was his desire to honor one another and to be proud of the man we can choose to become.
It’s up to us to choose and our gentle man offered a choice for everyone who crossed his path every day as he built relationships even to his last days. I didn’t get the opportunity to meet this gentle man, but what a day that will be. Today, was this gentle man’s final drive home. Beautiful songs were sung, prayers offered and eloquent speeches given. What touched me the most and will forever live in my heart was this simple statement of one teary-eye dear friend of our gentle man.
He was my friend and I am better man because of that friendship
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entagles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. – Hebrews 12:1 NIV. Gentle man, you ran a great race! Our renaissance man’s life verse was Joshua 24:15 to choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve – to serve others by serving the Lord. His call to action was a call to draw a line in the sand, to chart your course, to renew commitment a choice to make for eternity.
Look at what He has done for us, look at what He is doing for you now, and look at what He will do for you. It’s easy to serve when our finances, our suffering, our losses are low. But finding someone who will serve Him during the greatest of times, overflowing provision, and great joy is rare. Rarer still is to find someone to depend on the outside of man as Joshua’s did. His charge was to be that man – as our gentle man with another set of keys did.
I will serve you regardless of what’s going on in my life.