“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalm 23:5-6
Since the last installment of this blog series which is taking me forever to complete, a lot has happened. I have now lost my Father in-law that was another best friend to me. I have had to take some weeks to process all that has happened. The week before we went on a vacation, that was 10 years in the making, he passed away from the very thing that was killing me a few years ago, congestive heart failure. The vacation we chose was to go up to Sheboygan WI, to a wedding of my best friend’s Brian’s daughter. Remember Brian is what started this series, he passed in March of this year. It was a bitter/sweet time we had up there. A very emotional time for me, but also a time of closure. It was a haunting yet peaceful time we spent there. Haunting in the fact that I was sleeping in his bed, beside it was his lap top and a bunch of files that I assume were of clients that he had when he was family counseling, and some books he was reading. There was no way we wouldn’t want to spend as much time with them as possible so we accepted the invitation to stay with them. I want to close this series in a positive note, not just doom and gloom, but with the idea that God will prepare a table in the presence of my enemies. That is complete care, that is complete love, that God will do that for us. We have to remember no matter how many hardships we face that God is in the midst of them. My brother in-law shared a great message of hope when he shared my dad in-law’s eulogy. He took it from one of my favorite Psalm’s, Psalm 1 which says:
“Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields much fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither- whatever they do prospers. Not so for the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore, the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.”
This Psalm explains why God prepares a table for us in the presence of our enemies and why we cannot stay in the deep gloom of depression and move forward into acceptance and continued living. My father in-law Jim lived this Psalm to the best of his ability, not in any way a perfect man, who is? He was perfect to us who loved him so much and as Thanksgiving looms tomorrow when I post this I am so thankful to have known this awesome man. The first thing my brother in-law Burr said was that conduct is part of the man of God. The man of God, God’s man, does not walk in the way of the wicked, does not take company with mockers he reads the bible day and night. Jim’s strength was the word of God, he always made sure he had a copy of the bible, he was never satisfied with the one in front of him, he was always getting other copies to learn and understand what God was saying to him. More recently he wanted a copy on his phone so I was always at his call to make sure his phone was getting the bible. His conduct was always that of a man of God he had the second staple of Christian faith and that was prayer. He could pray the socks off of someone. We always avoided asking him to pray for dinner because the prayer would be so long before we could start eating, he did keep them short later in life, but if you talked to my wife they would sit for a long time before they could eat. Those two staples reading God’s word and praying causes that last part of conduct of a godly man and that is passing on what he learned. Jim always was talking about Jesus and what Jesus had done for him and what Jesus can do for you. One of the things I love was when we would discuss the bible and I think he would take a controversial view point just to get me thinking more and to get me to debate sometimes. He was one of the people that got me to love the word of God and want to read it and desire to read it.
The next point Burr made was there is consequence from the conduct. I just pointed it out, he made me want to read the bible more. He made me want to be a prayer warrior like he was and is today. Just because he is no longer on this earth doesn’t mean his prayers don’t echo throughout eternity. Consequence: he had two pastors that came out of his teaching, and who knows how many people looked to Jesus for salvation because of him being an incredible children’s pastor. If we could just touch a quarter of the many people this man touched, we would change many lives.
He had character as well. He always made himself available to anyone who needed help, whether it was to be driven somewhere or to fix something. He was the best fix-it man on the planet and would move heaven and earth to help his family out as well as his church family. Recently I found myself sadly replacing a trap underneath my kitchen sink, he taught me how to do that. Later in life he couldn’t do what he used to be able to do, but he sure could tell you how to do it. I missed his instruction, we had fixed many things together from doing a brake job on a car to fixing a toilet to putting in a new toilet. Good times that can never be forgotten or replaced.
Burr had a last point and that was contrast. The last part of the Psalm shows us the contrast between a sinful man and a man of God. God’s man has awesome conduct that translates into incredible consequences, and has this unbelievable character in him. Where sinful man is just like chaff and blows away in the wind. Nothing in this world that sinful man does will stick like what the godly man has done. Chaff is the useless husks of grains and grasses that gets separated during threshing. The man of God is useful, the sinful man is useless.
Psalm 1 is in the end of Psalm 23 and is more about the living than the dead. We are chosen as God’s people, so our conduct is that our cup overflows with God’s goodness, Jim’s did. The consequence of goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life. Character is having goodness and love following me all the days of my life. Finally, the contrast is I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever, not the worldly sinful man who rejects God.
As a final tribute to this man of God, one of my best friends, a mentor, a fine example of a man of God, I am going to write poem with all of these points I talked about above. As this Thanksgiving Day comes and goes, always cherish the ones you love, because one day they might not be there, and I pray they will be in a better place with God, as I know Jim is.
God’s man conducts himself
with bold talkfests with God.
His bible off the shelf,
A righteous path he plods.
A pathway to changed souls.
Pictures hang on a wall,
of many on God’s roll.
His character is loving,
A selfless aura is seen.
His benefactors glean.
Character in contrast,
To the world’s man discerned.
But buried is his past,
Good God aim has him turned.
© [David Howard], [David’s Body Temple] 2016