Family resemblances abound in every . . . well . . . family! I’m not just talking about looks or other physical features. Sometimes we share gestures, phrases, “colloquialisms” that are unique to our families. Example – many people know the saying “That’s the pot calling the kettle black.” In my home, that usually comes out “That’s a cat calling a dog four-legged.” (Thank you, daddy!)
But sometimes we meet a person who has such a significant impact on us that we start to resemble them. And they may not even be family. My hubby has told me – more than once – that my choral conducting style reminds him a little bit of Dr. Richard Stewart, my college choir director and a favorite professor in my music education program!
Recently, I’ve been struck by just how much my husband is starting to “resemble” two men from his past.
If you ask my husband who the greatest influences on his professional life have been, I know for a fact that two of the names you would hear – and I’m almost positive these would be the first two you would hear! – would be Dr. Carl Hoch and Dr. Fred Moore. Both of them have gone home to glory. But I know they would be proud of where their student and friend in ministry is today.
Dr. Hoch was a seminary professor that my husband studied under. I’ve heard my husband say numerous times that Dr. Hoch taught him to be a Biblical Theologian. In other words, let the scripture be your teacher and if a long held religious stance turns out to be in opposition to scripture, then change your stance! (Just so you know -the opposite of Biblical Theology is Systematic Theology where you have a system of beliefs that you try to fit scripture into. Kind of a backwards approach if you ask me!)
When I met my hubby – before classes even started our freshman year in college – he was VERY conservative. Think Alex P. Keaton for those of you old enough to remember Family Ties! And his conservatism carried over into his faith.
As I have watched my husband preach and listened to him talk about what he is learning from his own personal study of scripture, I can say with full confidence that his conviction regarding some teachings of scripture would keep him from being welcome in the church he grew up in. There are times he has wrestled with himself over a truth of scripture and the fact that it meant letting go of a long held – and erroneous – stance on a particular issue. Some of these issues were minor. Some were a little bigger. But when an issue like this comes up, I know I will hear him quote Dr. Hoch.
But as he humbly embraces his new understanding – and makes the necessary adjustments in stance – he learns even more from Scripture which often leads to more adjustments in his stance . . . you get the idea! The willingness to let Scripture shape the way he lives his life? That has Dr. Hoch’s influence written all over it.
Fred Moore was the first pastor that my husband served with. Hubby took on an unpaid position as the Youth Pastor at a small Evangelical Free Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. To this day, hubby refers to Pastor Fred as his Mentor in Ministry. Fred suffered from a rare genetic disorder that had affected his sight and his hearing to say nothing of the fact that the condition meant he lived in terrible pain every single day of his life. Most of those in his congregation never saw any hint of the pain and suffering he bore. Hubby was privy to it only because hubby had access to him during the quiet moments in the office during the week.
Despite his own personal hardship, Fred loved people. His compassion and tender heart were two of his very best qualities. I remember being in the hospital after the birth of my second child. She had ended up in the NICU with Respiratory Distress Syndrome and I was – to say the very least – a mess! I was recovering from a c-section and my newborn daughter was up one floor, separated from me by a plastic box intended to protect her from illness.
Fred stopped in to visit and wanted to know how I was doing. I told him how I was handling the pain, what I was taking to deal with it, etc. And he smiled at me with the most tender expression and said, “No, dear, I want to know your heart is doing.” Tearfully, I shared just how scared/frustrated/overwhelmed I was. He said nothing – simply let me “get it all out”. And then he prayed with me. I don’t know what he said exactly but I do remember that he prayed for peace, that I would not be afraid of the situation, and then he prayed for quick healing for myself and my daughter. This man, who would NEVER find healing from his condition this side of glory, not only prayed for healing, but talked about how excited he was to rejoice over that healing. I saw my husband later that day and before I could tell him that Pastor Fred had come to visit, he told me that Fred was “having a bad day.” I never saw it. Not one sign that he was in more pain than usual (side note – he couldn’t take any of the really strong prescription pain relievers since they tended to make his condition worse in the long run). I cried. This man who had just ministered so thoughtfully to me, who had been so concerned about my well-being, had been suffering through a day laced with pain and discomfort. And he never let on. Never even so much as grimaced in pain. Simply sought to minister to someone else.
Every week, I watch my husband stand patiently listening to anyone of a number of elderly church members run through the litany of ailments, medications, etc. that they are dealing with. He meets a group of retired men every morning for coffee and doughnuts at a local restaurant just because. I’ve watched him drop everything and head to the hospital for someone in need. All of these acts – and so many others – are a direct result of the influence of Fred Moore, a man whose impact on my husband’s life was so intense that my son bears the middle name Frederick in his honor.
I say all of this because this recent awareness has served as a reminder to me that we leave our marks on those we interact with for however long a period of time. As a teacher, I’m more aware of the impact I can have on the students in my classroom. But I cannot forget that sometimes those encounters come in the form of those I work with in ministry. Regardless of the setting, I may be leaving my mark behind and I wonder – is the resemblance a positive one?!