October of 1995 was a significant time for me. I had been in Knox County Ohio for over eight years. Together with my faithful family a faithful nucleus of people we had founded a Bible Church there. We met in the countryside in a simple Grange hall. The hall was just as I had pictured in my prayers for a simple preaching center. Hardwood floors, white among the trees and corn. There it was we nudged people God-ward.
During that time I got word of the state meeting of a like-minded fellowship of churches. The host church was Grace Baptist in Cedarville, Ohio. The church offered housing with one of its members. I took my boys left early and took the back way to enjoy the farm country and the harvest in autumn. It was a good meeting. During the week some things became clear to me. It helped me see the way that I should take in the years to come.
There were booths in an exhibition hall from missionary organizations and colleges. A missionary who was an old acquaintance manned one of them. Years before we had allowed a disagreement to come between us and we had not bothered to try to communicate since. It had been nearly ten years since we talked. Ironically his name too was Ken. I greeted him without warmth and avoided him. The second day of the meeting he caught up with me and asked to speak. I agreed.
We found a private place and sat down. He looked directly at me and said, “Ken, there’s something between us and I would like to get it cleared up.”
It’s been a while so I can’t reproduce his exact wording but I do well remember that he was eager to reconcile. We both knew there was something that had come between us but it took a while for me to remember what it was.
“Ken, will you forgive me?” he said. “I don’t want anything to be between us. We are brothers in Christ.”
My heart softened and I had a strong urge within to clear up any offense. “Yes, Ken, I do forgive you. I’m sorry I let anything come between us. Will you forgive me?”
We prayed and shook hands warmly, then embraced. The memory of it is sweet to me today.
King David wrote from deep experience when he said, “How good and pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity.” (Psalm 131)
Something happened today that brought this back to my mind. As I write we are on the road and Lois is driving. We are heading toward Chicago for our annual Directors Meeting and Valentine Banquet. Our oldest, Kyle lives and works in West Michigan now. We brought our other three sons along with us to visit with him for the weekend since his fianc?e is occupied with a mother-daughter retreat.
We met where we could fuel up on coffee. I saw him standing in front of the place dressed for work. He is strikingly handsome with a strong set of his mother’s physical features. Dark hair, dark eyes.
We were all glad to see him. I hugged him to me and he hugged me back. The little boys had been chattering all week about being together. They embraced their brother. Chuk, a man himself now four years younger than Kyle also embraced him holding him for a moment.
There again. The sweet spot in my soul. I have within me the deepest longing for those boys to love each other. Anything between them would be like a knife in my heart.
Maybe the day Ken and I embraced after nearly a decade of coolness it made my Heavenly Father smile.
Riverfront Character Inn
February 14, 2005