Real life revealed in the smile of an ailing friend

I awakened to the pleasant sound of raindrops falling upon the roof. I love the rain. It brings cleansing, renewal and life. I began to think about life, real life. I saw it yesterday. I saw it in the smiling face of an old friend.

Cancer and pneumonia have wrecked his poor body, but have done nothing to dampen his spirit or to wreck his faith. He’s been seen from time to time at death’s door as of late. However, it is not the door to death, but to life, real life and eternal life which awaits his passing. He knows it, and so he smiles.

I’ve known him for better than 35 years. In some ways we are as different as classical music and rock ’n’ roll. Still, we studied side by side in Bible College. We’ve worked together for many years. I know him well and I admire him. He’s a true Christlike example. He personifies the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. I’ve heard people refer to him often as loving, kind, gentle, good and faithful. One would be hard-pressed to find a better human being. I would add one more virtue to his list: humility. He’s never had an agenda.

He has ministered faithfully to “the least of these” in society for 35 years. He has served as a chaplain to hospital, jail and prison alike. He has ministered, counseled, preached and taught, but mostly he has been faithful. He’s never had a desire to be a mega-church preacher or to see his name in print or in lights. He’s much like the apostle Paul’s faithful friend, Tychicus, “a dear brother, a faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord.” He is like Epaphras, “one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus ... wrestling in prayer for you ... working hard for you.” That’s him, and one day in the good Lord’s timing, he will hear the sweet words of Jesus, “Well done,” Gary Bowers. “You’ve been a good and faithful servant. Enter the joy of your heavenly Father!”

Ken Haskins is pastor of First Christian Church in Carson City.


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