April 30, 2019 by Dennis Perkins
“Don’t let them take the love out!” were the words of a little granddaughter to her grandfather after hearing he was going to have open heart surgery. Even at her age she knew about love and believed the best kind comes from the heart.
Everyday, God writes us into His story. We play in this love story because He is the great writer, director, and producer of this full-time reality show. The greatest story ever told has to be the story of God’s love for man. The story is explained in the Bible in great detail how God sent His only son to save the world that He loves. In John 3:16a (NIV) it is told, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son.” It is a true love story about a father and his children, a story that begins with the creation of the world and man, a story of the origin of why man loves. It is explained in, 1 John 4:19 (NIV), “We love because He first loved us.”
I believe God is always with us through His Holy Spirit, even though we do not always acknowledge Him, He is with us loving us and seeking our love in return. He places special people in our lives who teach us about kindness and love. I can testify that many of these God-messengers have enriched my life.
One of these special people was a man I met when I first attended a new church. On one of my first visits to this church, I was greeted by an older man, a Marine with a flat-top haircut. Rich gave me a warm smile and a firm handshake as he welcomed me. He made a lasting impression on me.
I attended a men’s group meeting in the church and watched as Rich led the group. He often struggled for words, but I could always tell that he was passionate and caring in everything he did. He spoke honestly and sincerely from his heart.
I could feel my life changing as I was growing in my faith. Rich suggested I become involved more in the church and soon a speaking engagement was offered to me. I did not think I would be a very good speaker, but with encouragement from this man, I gave it my best.
The speaking opportunity led me to facilitate a small group of men in a bible study on Monday nights. Rich shared at the first meeting his thoughts on what he needed in a small group. He carefully and honestly explained, “I feel like I have been talked at all of my life, and now I need someone to talk with.” His words helped mold our discussion as the group continued to meet for several years. Thinking back I remember, Rich was always there, listening and encouraging me.
Often, we met for dinner and talked one-on-one sharing our concerns, life problems, and spiritual beliefs. He would encourage me and challenge me to take the needed steps in my life to move along on my spiritual journey. I would offer him similar encouragement and challenges as well. We were iron sharpening Iron (from Proverbs 27:17).
God called Rich home and I knew this special man God had placed in my life, will live forever through his unselfish love and words echoing in my mind. The story of how God taught me brotherly love through Rich is written on my heart. God wrote me into His story. I miss Rich, my teacher, my brother and my friend.