My uncle passed away last week. He was my mom’s twin brother and he was a great and godly man. I have many great memories of him, but I don’t want to bore you with any of those. I suppose that many of you are fortunate enough to have someone like him in your family as well. Yesterday I attended his grave side and memorial services and it is these events which helped to crystalize some of my thinking about my Uncle Doug but more importantly about a walk with Jesus.
First, I am reminded how few of us truly walk with God. I say that because when we come across someone who really “gets it,” it really is remarkable. Illustrations abound in the life of my uncle and people like him, but the short answer on this is that his relationship with Jesus colored everything that he did. Jesus was first without question. That challenges me.
Second, one element of this genuine walk with God is illustrated in consistency. My perspective of my uncle was that of a nephew who had fairly regular contact with him for holidays and birthdays, etc. My conversations with him often seemed to turn to the ministry of the church and what God was doing in his life. I felt kind of special to be able to have those conversations with him…that is until yesterday. Yesterday I found out that, of the couple hundred people at his service, just about all of them had had similar conversations about his passion for ministry and the church! I realized that he had a genuine, sincere and passionate faith in God and the work of His Kingdom. He could not help but speak of it. That challenges me too.
Third, this “walk with God” is not as complicated as we sometimes make it. We do a lot of reading, blogging, learning, debating, and preaching. We develop programs, critique church styles and structures and discuss a lot of doctrinal minutia. My uncle never owned a computer and he was not on Facebook; he wrote his prayer list on a note pad he kept in his front pocket and prayed that list every day. People consistently approached him for advice, mentoring and for prayer because he consistently modeled a life of humility and service. He was “old school” but it worked. The crowd I saw yesterday cut across generational lines. Yes, there were “old people” there, but I was blessed by the number of young people I saw there. He was trained as a school teacher, but I was blessed at how the church leadership spoke about him with incredible respect. It was clear that his influence and ministry flowed up and down the ministry chain at his church.
One place we complicate things is in sharing our faith. We all have people in our lives whom we are concerned about regarding their spiritual condition. We probably pray for them often and maybe even strategize about how we could share with them. My uncle had a similar concern for a former classmate who he had seen at a reunion. While I am sure that he prayed for this man, he intentionally made an appointment with him to ask him about his relationship with God. I am not sure whether or not the man came to know the Lord, but I am challenged by a man whose willingness to be obedient to the burdens the Lord placed on his heart supersedes the complexities we have created in our ministry strategies.
Fourth, my uncle’s life challenges me to live similarly. As I sat and listened yesterday, I was blessed by a life well-lived. And, by the way, I am blessed to be a part of a family full of people like my uncle! I have a great legacy to look upon and I am challenge to be a part of the next link in this remarkable chain.