When I was about 15 years old I went on a project with my dad and brothers and some men from my church. The project was to clear some trees to build a house for a local family to whom our church was reaching out. One of the guys on the team stood out to me because of his shear size (he was huge) we’ll call him Walt. In the course of the project we fell a large tree, about 3 ft. in diameter and while one of the men was using a chainsaw the saw bound and his hand became entrapped under the massive tree trunk. Walt was a big guy (the kind of guy who you didn’t really shake hands with. He shook hands, you just shook.). He was the first to reach the man with the entrapped hand and immediately saw that the only way to free it was to lift the tree. So he did. The same tree we’d tried to move earlier with a back-hoe, but couldn’t. He just picked it up and moved it. Call it adrenaline, call it what you will. That’s one big guy.
A few years later Walt’s daughter got married and I can still remember being shocked at the emotion and tears in the speech he gave. A few years after that I remember seeing him pick up his grand-daughter from the nursery after church when she was only a few months old. That baby’s whole body fit into one of Walt’s big, steely hands, but he hunched over her with such tenderness and responded to her cooing with affection that would have put a blush on many a man’s face.
The most impressive display I can remember of his deep running heart for the gospel was at the Haven of Rest homeless shelter when Walt gave his testimony at the chapel one evening. They like to keep Walt around because there seem to be fewer fights among the tenants when there’s a guy like him serving dinner. This particular evening Walt stood up to speak and his normally deep booming voice shook like a Jr. High boy’s as he described how Jesus Christ saved him from a meaningless life of drunkenness, abusiveness, pornography, bar-fights, and drugs. He went on to a plead with those attending that each of them was in just as bad a shape as he had been, that they too were headed for a fate worse than death and without parole, that they were sinners in the hands of an angry God. And that there was no hope for them if they did not place their faith in Jesus. Then he talked about his own relationship with Jesus, called him his best friend, is only companion when he is tempted to despair, and the only one who saved him from a the slippery slope toward suicide. When he finished the session with tears streaming down his face the room had fallen silent, and he stepped down to resume serving dinner to the line of hungry men and women attending the chapel.
The memory of that scene always reminds me of the beautiful pageantry with which God can weave together the pinnacle of manliness in men with their love of the Gospel and others. The apostle Paul tells us in I Corinthians 16:13
“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.”
We can do this guys.