He was a rugged man - his black hair gelled up like a city slicker didn't mask his northwoods roots. His scratchy face betrayed his lack of shaving over the weekend and his love of the outdoors was evident in the black Carhart coveralls, red plaid fleece and camouflage boots. Plowing his way through the snow, he walked with a swagger and a confident air. He was probably looking for a good chunk of snow to ball up and bring into the house to terrorize me. Rugged, confident, and a bit mischievous too!
He walked into my life over ten years ago and swept me off my feet. His serious expression and blatant honesty gave a crystal clear view into his heart. He stood out from the others - the posers trying to put on a holy face or the almost feminine submissive type. No, he was sometimes abrasive - not afraid of offending others in pursuit of the truth. He was one hundred percent masculinity: following God didn't mean wearing a tie or acting like a weakling. Being a Christ-follower meant knowing God's wild heart for this world and living for Him alone. Compromising personality to fit into a "Christian" mold never even entered his mind. His life in Christ was repulsed by legalism or anything that smacked of insincerity.
Prim, proper and politically correct might have been okay for some guys, but not for him. His strong muscles hearkened back to football days when he spent his spare time working out jamming to Bon Jovi and hard rock.
He turned away from the things of the world in 1992 and as his worldly friends turned away from their "preacher-man," he found himself alone on the frontier of spirituality. He immersed himself in God's creation, soaking up God's presence in the woods and on the lake. Scouting for deer, hooking big fish and frying them up with some potatoes filled his days in the little cabin miles out of town.
He walked down the narrow path, wondering what God had in store for him. He overcame obstacles along the way, such as the requirement to lie on reports at work. His integrity stood the test, but his soul was pushed to a new frontier: serving God wholeheartedly. He mentored and discipled young men, showing how to be masculine and stay out of the dangers of the world, fanning the flame of Christ in each one.
He followed God's call to seminary, not exactly the place for rugged men, but he stood for God in every circumstance. Mentoring homeless and desperate men opened his eyes to the need for many to hear God's word through counseling.
His brown eyes were able to pierce through the deceitfulness of men to perceive truth. His discernment surprised many and cut to the heart of the matter quickly. He had a a passion for the God of the Bible (as opposed to those who were more passionate about the Word of God than the God of the Word) and a passion for people to be freed from slavery to sin. He was a rescuer at heart - a true hero whose goal was to save the lost and set them free.
Ten years ago, he arrived on campus a grown man, experiences of real life having already shaped him into a man of God. I saw him sitting across the table from me and had no idea who this man was or how he would change my life.
And here I sit today, wondering how I ever lived without him.
Happy Birthday Dear!