This is part two of a series about Jim who was eighty-eight when he enrolled in hospice with end-stage heart failure. Jim’s three daughters, Rene, Sandra and Connie, “The girls”, reminisced, “When we were kids it was dad’s job to be the monster and scare us. Sometimes we would put the tent up in the back yard and dad would sneak out in the middle of the night and make noises like wild animals. One night dad got the idea that he would scare us and he decided he would go outside and climb in the window so he could sneak down the hall and ambush us. The window was kind of high so dad climbed up on the glider and when he was halfway in he got stuck. He was halfway in and halfway out. Mom got tickled and started laughing. She told dad that someone might see him there and call the Sherriff. The joke ended up being on dad.” The girls concluded, “Dad was an only child and now we all know why.”
Jim explained, “I was born on Christmas Eve, ‘Twas the night before Christmas when all through the house, not a creature was stirring not even a mouse. When all of a sudden there arose such a clatter, Jim was born, that’s what was the matter.’” Jim has been a jokester, prankster and stirring things up ever since.
But don’t let Jim’s down-to-earth familiar country boy demeanor fool you. Jim played the clarinet and bassoon in the high school pep and marching bands and in the Huntington Symphony Orchestra. After graduation he enlisted in the Army, was trained as a medic and was deployed to the front lines as a sharpshooter in the Korean Conflict. Jim minored in music and majored in education and earned a Masters of Education at Morehead State University. He later earned a Doctorate of Divinity. Jim worked many years as a local educator and coordinator. He served as pastor of the Kings Addition Baptist Church for over forty years. The girls explained, “Dad preached and taught at Bible Conferences and small churches all over the country, really all over the world. Dad went on missionary trips, to the Philippines, to the Northwest Territories of Canada and to Papua New Guinea three times.”
No one would have predicted that the little introverted boy who was born and raised, “on the wrong side of the tracks”, in the area of Portsmouth referred to as “Funks Gut”, would end up a sharpshooter in the Korean Conflict and speaking and preaching all over the world. Jim reflected, “When I was growing up I wouldn’t stand up before people and say anything.” The girls added, “Dad was small so bullies picked on him.” Jim recounted a story, “There were these three or four boys who liked to pick on me. One day I saw them coming, so I positioned myself in front of this big store window so that when they came I would duck and they would hit the window. Sure enough they charged and bounced off the window.”
God sometimes chooses the most unlikely candidates through which to accomplish His will. The Apostle Paul wrote, “…not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. And God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty… that no flesh should glory in his presence,” (1 Corinthians 1:25-31).
When God rejected Saul as King, He dispatched the prophet Samuel to search for Saul’s replacement with the following instructions: “… Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature… For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart,” (1 Samuel 16:1-13, NKJV). When Jesse’s son’s passed before Samuel one by one, God choose David, the smallest, youngest, least rugged looking of Jesse’s sons as Saul’s replacement. A song by Ray Boltz depicts the above scene and concludes, “When others see a shepherd boy, God may see a king,” (Shepherd Boy).
When Jeremiah was but “a youth” God called him to be a prophet and Jeremiah responded, “Ah, Lord God! Behold I cannot speak, for I am a youth.” Then God replied, “Do not say, ‘I am but a youth,’ for you shall go to all to whom I send you… Do not be afraid of their faces, for I am with you to deliver you…” (Jeremiah 1:1-8).
You see, we aren’t’ who others think or say we are, we aren’t even who and what we think we are. We are who and what God says we are, for He alone is our maker. Therefore, in the words of Oswald Chambers, “Stop harking back to what you once were when God wants you to become something you’ve never been,” (Utmost for His Highest).
“Oh what I would do to have the strength to stand before a giant with just a sling and a stone. But the giant’s calling out my name and he laughs at me, reminding me all the times I’ve tried before and failed. The giant keeps on telling me time and time again, ‘boy you’ll never win. You’ll never win!’ But the voice of truth tells me a different story, and the voice of truth says do not be afraid, and the voice of truth says this is for my glory. Out of all the voices calling out to me, I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth,” (Casting Crowns, Voice of Truth).
Loren Hardin is a social worker with SOMC-Hospice and can be reached at 740-356-2525 or at [email protected]. You can order Loren’s book, “Straight Paths” at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.