I used to go with a friend to the Farm Science Review in Columbus, Ohio. We would pack up our boys in John Deer hats and head off for the day to sample all the free stuff and watch the new product roll-outs. I was like the Detroit Auto Show for farmers.
My friend was as good as gold—one of the best and truest friends I have ever had. Few people have done more for me. God allowed me to influence he and his family for Christ and he tried to repay me with deep loyalty and sacrificial friendship. His name is Gary Mickle.
Gary, like so many young central Ohio men, had a deep and burning ambition to farm, but not the cash. He worked as a lineman for the gas company. He had a sweet family and a tidy home—where every last thing worked, because he was a perfectionist and very talented.
I watched something happen to him at the Farm Science Review that was painful and instructive to me. It happened more than once. He would walk into a display and the sales rep would immediately move over and begin to make animated conversation with him. Gary looked every inch the farmer. The conversation was lively and intelligent because Gary was intensely interested and highly informed about agriculture.
Eventually the sales rep would steer the conversation to the real “money” question. It would usually sound something like this:
“So…. how many acres are ya’ farmin’ now?”
I would try to walk away to spare my friend any embarrassment.
Gary would quietly answer, “Right now I’m working for the gas company, but I hope to get a few acres and start farming soon.”
The rep would mumble something and then immediately—sometimes even mid sentence excuse himself and strike up a conversation with someone else.
I always thought, “That guy doesn’t know what a treasure of a human being he just insulted because he couldn’t see a way to wring an immediate profit from him.”
Often around Thanksgiving I call Gary, who now lives far away, and I tearfully thank him for all he did for me when I needed help so much—how God sent him into my life. Gary always protests that it was he who was blessed to have me in his life. That might be the only thing substantial that we really disagree on.
True followers of Jesus don’t go around trying to calculate what people can do for them. They walk into their world looking for people to love—like Jesus did. I want to be like Him.
May 19, 2014