06 July 2009

Fort Smith

Fort Smith, Arkansas, just across the Arkansas River from eastern Oklahoma, is an unlikely destination for most. I’ve never met a single soul who said they went to Fort Smith for a vacation.

To get to my grandfather’s home, one has to drive through a maze of empty, burned out factory buildings; hot sweaty factories long closed where my grandparents worked hard most of their lives. Today the “Northside” of Fort Smith, the wrong-side-of-the-tracks part of Fort Smith, is a southern-fried version of a Pennsylvania rust-belt city.

My grandfather is easily the toughest man I have ever met. When I was a small boy I told a group of big-haired Church women that I wanted to grow up and be mean like my grandfather. Shocked, they locked back silent for a few long seconds ... and then they laughed politely, forced smiles and all, the way Southern women do when they are at a loss for words.

My grandfather still chuckles when he tells that story. - I spent the last four days with my grandfather and what strikes me now is how humble he is, despite his toughness, despite hardships and heartbreak, how humble he has been his entire life.

The Bible says “humility comes before honor” (Prov 18:12). And, that “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love” (Gal 5:6). My grandfather is definitely not perfect. He is human, like you, like me.

But, I have learned this from my grandfather: Humility, Faith, and Love will get a person through a lot. Self interest destroys, faith expressed through love builds-up, it is the foundation of a happy life, and most importantly honors our Creator.

“Father, Thank You for all the people in our lives who have loved us and taught us Your ways by their example. We forgive them for their imperfections, and we ask that you forgive us for our imperfections, too. Father, overcome us with Your love and bring us closer to You. In Jesus name we pray.”

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