The Man Who Walks with a Limp
I grew up in the home of a Christian leader. Dad, traveled the world, leading a well know parachurch ministry in Canada, the Commonwealth, throughout Asia and the United States. For years, he hobnobbed with many prestigious men and women. He talked to political leaders. His job title gave him access to men and women who had significant influence. While he did many incredible things during that season of life, I think he’d now admit; he was handicapped by a 2-dimensional view of the poor, the needy, the hurting and those who were different from himself. Though he cared for those in need, he wasn’t able to fully enter into their suffering because he had not yet truly suffered himself and could not possibly understand the depths of their pain. In his late 50’s, the Lord began to talk to dad through Isaiah 58 about the poor, the broken, and the disenfranchised. By this time in his life, Dad had suffered deep heartache and disappointment. The scars that suffering left on his heart opened new understanding and compassion for the pain of others. Now more pliable, he was ready to be shaped and formed by God into a minister of love for the lost and deeply hurting. No longer was he meant to travel with powerful people. He was now a man who walked with a limp and who was ready to go into the trenches and weep with those who the world has tossed aside.
And to the trenches, he went — with my mom with him all the way. For several years, he positioned himself as a student and learner. Traveling first to Ethiopia he grieved over all he saw. Forever changed, he then ventured into the inner city in Phoenix, Chicago, and Albuquerque and learned from those who understood the very heart of urban ministry. Like a sponge, he soaked in all he could. Now didn’t see hoodlums; he saw future friends. While he did indeed see evil, he, even more, saw the hope of Heaven. Soon, he and mom told us God was calling them to the inner city. They needed to live with these “precious” men and women. They needed to, “Serve, love, and live life” with the marginalized.
For almost seven years now Dad (with mom right by his side) has served in the hood. A man, who remember, once sat in meetings with strong and well-known leaders, now spends his day running an inner city t-shirt shop, www.opportunitees.com so a few men and women can have steady employment, grow in Jesus and have the hope of a better future. Well into his 70’s now, he delivers t-shirts, holds daily Bible studies, and shines the love of Christ beautifully. There aren’t any camera crews that follow him or any book deals in his future. Those aren’t what he’s doing this for though.
What matters to dad is he’s living life in the trenches with his treasured friends in the hood while humbly serving his beloved Lord. Some days, he has the joy of seeing lives change for the better, others he experiences the heartache of the rejection that comes with working with the brokenhearted, the lost and the poor. Overall, he lives with the quiet confidence in God’s favor and isn’t at all worried about the praise of man. While I deeply loved the dad of my youth, I profoundly love and admire my Daddy of today.
Many leaders come and go, but few finish their races well. My dad is doing just that. Though he walks slower now and doesn’t charge up every hill like he once did, there is a quiet strength and steadfast character that leads him through each day. Suffering and the heartache of life have left their scars, but bitterness has not rooted or grown. Instead, grace and mercy guide his steps. Yes, he is indeed a man who walks with a limp now – and that limp cries out L.O.V.E!
When I grow up, I want to be just like him.