Monday, August 6, 2012

Use Words, Only If You Have To

I remember the first time I heard those words.  They were spoken from the pulpit.  After a very concise and, what I seem to remember dubbing as an awesome sermon, the minister ended with, "Preach Christ. And use words, only if you have to."

There have been times in my life when someone said something sort of profound and I immediately waved them off because what they said or recommended or eloquently stated did not match up with his or her life.  This man, though, lived this simple yet profound quote.  He lived it by simply loving people and making each individual feel special.

Yesterday, the world suddenly and unexpectedly lost this man, Bill, who preached Christ, mainly without words. He was one in a million.  He truly loved others.  He went out of his way to connect with people in the way that would effect them most or make them the most comfortable.  With me, he engaged in conversation one-on-one and quietly.  He did not bring loud attention to me and I loved that about him.  He was also hilarious and would start most conversations with me with some type of ridiculous statement, to break the ice, and then we would both laugh.

My first ever conversation with him was several years ago.  I had shared a testimony with the congregation during a church service.  Afterward, he was at my side in a flash!  He pulled me into the tightest, longest, most wonderful and unexpected hug I've ever experienced and then said, "I will never forget that testimony.  Thank you for sharing it and please continue to share it with others."  Since that time I have had sporadic conversations or quick greetings with him, in my heart knowing that he loved me just because I exist, and feeling the same love for him.

One of the ways he reached my heart the most was through my nephew.  When Baby A was about 2 years old, I had him in church with me.  My outgoing and very busy nephew wandered over to the other side of the pew where Bill was seated.  At first, I was concerned that this persistent and often very loud toddler would distract Bill from the service so I started to lean over to bring Baby A back to me.  Bill quickly caught my eye and shook his head no.  He reached into his shirt pocket and pulled out a piece of candy and handed it lovingly to my nephew.  Throughout the rest of the service, Baby A, now a sugar addict, went back over to him repeatedly.  I was torn between thinking this exchange was sweet and wondering if this would hinder Baby A's much anticipated nap!  However, toward the end of the service, Baby A was sitting quietly and contently on Bill's lap, flipping through a children's book.  The love and time Bill gave my nephew that day was how I imagine Jesus would have treated him:  patient, kind, loving, and freely giving.  

Bill continually taught me about Jesus without speaking a word.  Over the course of my life I heard many of Bill's sermons and I remember really liking them, but I can't remember the content of a single one of them now. His actions, his daily dealings of others, told me everything.

It's sad to imagine a world without a man who loved like Bill did.  We are definitely lacking in people like him. My hope is that the impact he left on others, in life and in death, will create more people who love others intentionally and who use words, only if they have to.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for that. I really needed to read this today!