Saturday, September 20, 2008

Follow His Lead by Diane Anderson

Tribute to James Anderson:

If you would have asked my father-in-law to sum up his life, he likely would have told you it was a simple one. He lived most of his 78 years in the small town of his birth. Although retired from his profession as a carpenter, he enjoyed going daily to his son's shop to work on smaller projects, many of which turned into gifts for his family. The family, which he was so proud of, includes his wife of 57 years, their 10 children, 26 grandchildren, 20 spouses and 19 great grandchildren.

In earlier years, he served his country in the army and for a time he shared his woodworking ability with students of three different colleges, teaching them the basics of the trade. These last years he held down the fort at Bert's Woodworks while the rest of the crew went out on the job. He faithfully answered the phone and took messages from those who stopped by. The shop became a local gathering spot for a group of men who came for coffee, goodies and an old fashioned gab session during break time.

What will I remember about Jim Anderson? His warm smile and tender heart. His humble spirit. His genuine interest in all who crossed his path. The love he had for his family, although not often spoken, was so evident. His devotion to God and the church were unparalleled. He was everyone's friend, and paid special attention to those who were alone in the world. He had a deep bass singing voice he loved to share. Although he was never a wealthy man, he was always able to provide for his family and was generous in sharing when he could. Joy radiated from his life, and he really enjoyed a good joke.

Did he live the perfect life? None of us can. The Bible, in Romans 3:23, tells us we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God. And yet Jim knew where to go when he did make a mistake. He personally knew our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, who died on a cross to pay the price that would take away those sins. Somehow I think Jim knew the secret that, even in our mistakes, God takes the bad and turns it into good for His purposes. It reminds me of a favorite verse of mine, Romans 8:28, which assures us all things work together for good to them that love God and are called according to His purposes.

Jim's sudden departure from this life doesn't seem like a good thing to those of us left behind. And yet I believe there is a greater good to be accomplished as we look back on the way he lived and strive to follow his lead. The footsteps he left have a familiar look to them. As we think back, we will remember another who was born in a small town, worked as both carpenter and teacher, was a friend to all and went about doing good. Jesus was His name. The example Jesus set is one Jim followed. In fact, if he were alive today, Jim could easily have joined the apostle Paul in saying “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” (1Corinthians 11:1)

Who are you patterning your life after? Perhaps you were blessed to know someone like Jim who left a good example to follow. If not, there is no need to worry. Simply find yourself a Bible and turn to the Gospel books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. There you will read about the life and times of Jesus while He walked this earth. In studying the life of Jesus, you will also get a good taste of the kind of man Jim was. It was hard saying good-bye when God called him home, and yet we know it wasn't really “Good-bye” but instead “See you soon!” When you think about it, even many years are just a short span in the scope of eternity,. Until then, we will rest in knowing Jim is now part of the great cloud of witnesses referred to in Hebrews 12. They are surrounding us as we run with perseverance the race marked out for us. The chapter goes on to encourage us to fix our eyes on Jesus who is the author and perfecter of faith. It was faith that brought Jim through his life on earth, and through faith we know we will one day see him again. Until then, we hold on to precious memories and do our best to follow his lead.

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