A couple of weeks ago, my family had the opportunity to visit with many of our old friends. A couple we have known since 1989 dropped in at one gathering to help us celebrate our oldest son’s college graduation.
When they arrived, I was standing across the room with more than thirty people standing between them and me. I was talking with another guest and began to politely excuse myself so that I might work my way over to greet these dear friends.
The person with whom I was visiting was my daughter-in-law’s relative. He had no idea who this couple was. He asked, “Are they relatives of yours.”
I replied, “Well, sort of.”
The curious look on his face made me know that I needed to explain my response. I said, “Chet was one of our shepherds when we lived in Kansas.”
At this point, I got a bit sentimental. But, I believed then and continue to believe every word I subsequently spoke. I looked at him and said, “Chet is one of the best shepherds I have ever known.”
I then told him about something that happened years ago, which epitomizes this man’s life. During our worship gathering one Sunday morning, a young woman whose life was in shambles responded to “the invitation”. I received her, as was my custom, and sat with her for a moment or two. We discussed her reasons, which were many, for responding. As was our custom, after I had collected the information from those who responded and shared the essence of it with the congregation, one of our shepherds would then offer a prayer.
On this particular Sunday, brother Chet really struggled with the prayer. He knew the inner workings of this young person’s life. He knew the challenges she faced. He knew that she needed huge quantities of God’s loving care and the Spirit’s comfort. He poured out his heart to God. Because he did, we all did.
There were probably some dry eyes in the room, but not many. The presence of God was not some idea to be discussed on that day. It was reality we all experienced.
I went on to tell this man that while I was visiting with one of the oldest members of our church family later on, she looked at me and said that brother Chet was one of the most Christ-like men she knew. She then said, and I am quoting her verbatim, “When I close my eyes and think of Jesus, I always see Chet’s face.”
After I shared this brief anecdote, the man with whom I was speaking said, “He must be quite a man. No wonder you want to claim him as family.”
I made my way over to the place where Chet and Marlece were standing. We hugged and chit-chatted and then talked about old times. We talked about loved ones now gone to be with the Lord. We talked about how things are going with the church back home. We talked about family members and friends. We tried to catch one another up on just about everything. We looked at pictures of their Fiftieth Wedding Anniversary Party. We laughed. We sighed. Then it was time for them to go.
Yes, Chet is one of the most Christ-like men I know. He’s not perfect. He doesn’t think that he is for one moment. He’s made his share of mistakes, just like the rest of us. He freely admits this, as well. But, he is a man of faith and integrity, who, in my opinion, is motivated by a desire which wells up from deep in his soul to honor God in all that he thinks and in all that he does and in all that he says. Because he steadfastly follows the Chief Shepherd, he is one of the best spiritual shepherds I have ever known. I wish I had told him this a couple of weeks ago. Perhaps he will find out this is how I feel, anyway.