O. D. ‘83 —
In the later years of Father’s life, I had the privilege of working close to him. When signing on for the job, I never in my wildest dreams imagined the way that it would change me. Secretly, I had hoped that there would be a moment where I could catch him breaking out of character, to affirm any doubts I had about him. It never happened; in fact, quite the opposite. Never once did he let me down in the countless hours I spent with him. He inspired me quietly through his actions, the sincerity and dedication with which he did everything, and in every word that he spoke.
My lasting impression of Father is of his discipline and the way he carried himself. One afternoon on the job, I watched as he walked towards me climbing a set of steps. He was ninety, and to climb them he had to use every bit of strength in his arms, holding the railings to pull himself up each step, while his legs did little work. They were weak and he was was no longer youthful and his body was catching up to his age.
That evening, I promised myself (with hesitation) that I would wake up early the next morning to participate in his daily tradition of reading God’s words at 5 a.m. After snoozing my alarm multiple times at 4:30, I managed to get to the service, albeit with my eyes half open. At 4:50, he walked in, and began with a prayer. Only fifteen minutes into the service, he stood up and started to give a sermon, at which point I was hoping that the service would go no more than an hour so that I could go back to sleep. Four hours into the service, I had taken a good nap, two bathroom breaks, scribbled in a notebook, and wondered multiple times why I decided to wake up this early. Meanwhile, Father was still standing, reading, and preaching with his chair directly behind him. Those legs that could barely get up the stairs the day before were standing for four hours.
I’ll never forget that morning, perhaps in part because of how impossibly hard it was to keep my eyes open, but what I took with me was how incredibly hard Father works and the grace with which he carries himself. Carrying on and pushing through even at ninety. He became an inspiration for how to live as I looked forward to the years ahead, and gave me resolve to approach the challenges in my own life.
Not once did he ever let me down. I saw how much he loved and cared for everyone, especially his early followers, and never wanted to let them down. Every day started with God’s words while most were still sleeping, and every day served a purpose much greater than himself. He stood strong on his feet no matter how weak his legs were, and he stood strongly by what he believed in. If I could live half my life with the dedication that he lived with, I would have lived it fully.
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