A man named Jerry has been a special blessing to me for the past year and a half. He’s an interesting fellow, born and raised in Detroit, and since transplanted. He has faced, and continues to face, several hardships. His wife does not have a strong heart. By God’s grace, she has endured longer than doctors would have hoped, and there is something special about a person who knows that each day they live, it is because of God’s favor. Jerry himself is not what I would call healthy. He looks great - good-looking and strong. But he lost the use of a lung during a heart surgery, and he makes frequent trips to the hospital because of breathing deficiency. He and his wife have welcomed a daughter and her two children back into the home as she seeks to re-train to support her family on her own. He has spent considerable time with an aging mother-in-law. And yet Jerry faces each twist and turn with a smile and a sense of humor.
Jerry does not claim to be perfect. He knows that he’s got a quick temper, and that he can take quick offense. He has not always walked close with the Lord. But he does now. God has placed his claim on Jerry, and Jerry has placed a claim on God. They are bound together, and it shows.
There were days this past summer when I was pretty darn discouraged. Jerry, more than once, came and prayed with me at the start of a day, asking for God’s help. It changes your perspective! We saw God answer prayer in pretty amazing ways, and we were able to thank the Lord together for his surprising provision. Jerry also pointed out, in father-like fashion, some mistakes that I was making, and he wanted to make sure that I could see them. It was a little painful - a dose of humiliation - but it was what I needed. He was a friend, telling me the truth.
Jerry has also been exceedingly kind and generous. He has been generous with his time and energy; with his house and pool; with sharing and with gifts. He has been an open book, an epistle written by the Spirit of grace, and I have benefited from the experience.
I talked with Jerry on the phone a couple of times this past week. In our short conversations, he turned to spiritual themes two or three times - not forced; not preachy - just real and practical. He was right. He was stating the obvious - obvious, that is, to someone who walks with the Lord and is being guided by the Spirit.
One of the clear, first lessons that I have noticed in “the wisdom project,” our reading of a chapter of Proverbs each day through 2013, is that we need to listen to wise counsel. We need to hear spiritual advice. We need the blessing of someone who will speak the truth in the context of the difficulties of life, pointing the way to Christ in the light of the Spirit. I am blessed to have been the beneficiary of this ministry, and I pray that I might learn to do the same for others.