Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Walk By Faith

Lester Anspach Funeral
I sit here with the bible of a man who truly treasured what he had.
I have never seen a bible quite like this one. I have seen my fair share of bibles down through the years. Some of them have had writing in them or small amounts of notes. Nothing could compare with what I see here. This book has truly been used. This book has been read and re-read. (And, then re-read again.) The amount of notes, cards and scripture references, jotting down on things and then stuck in the book is mind boggling. Who does something like this? A man who truly understood just how important this book is for his life. I say "is for" because his life is not over. I truly believe that.

"Why" do I believe that, you might ask? Lets take a look at some of the items placed inside the binding of this cherished book and I think you'll see the answer becoming clearer for us to see. There was a stack of index cards inside the front cover. The first card on top of the stack reads...

For we live by FAITH
and not by SIGHT
2 Cor 5.7

As I thumbed through this tattered and worn book, now holding itself together with tape that had been placed on it's spine several years ago and is itself now showing wear and tear, I see this card as the theme for why this man has kept this book as he has all these years. When the Apostle Paul is writing this second letter to the Corinthians, the over nature of the book has shifted from the intent of his first letter. The first letter to the Corinthians was an explanation of scriptural, biblical, and practical law. The second letter shows us a man who is clearly looking ahead to what lies beyond. There is preparation in what he says and thinks. Paul is obviously looking beyond. He knows what is coming and what to expect. Although he cannot see the entire picture, what he expects is to see Jesus and to leave this earth. Listen to the context around chapter 5, verse 7.

2 Corinthians 5:6-8

King James Version (KJV)
Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:
(For we walk by faith, not by sight:)
We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

What Paul really wanted was to be here and working. But, he also confesses that he would like to leave this body and go be with the Lord. And, so he is torn. To be with the people here and working in their midst would benefit those reading and listening. But, to be with the Lord is what every follower of Christ desires. The owner of this bible I now hold seemed to be looking for something. There was something important here. Every time he finds something he deems important he circles and underlines, scribble and leaves note for himself to remember the truths he discovers. He has done this so much that the book has a hard time holding itself together. It has been opened and closed so much that either oil from the fingers used or coffee stains now cover the center of the pages as you flip from page to page. Another index card reveals truth about how this man lived his life.
Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
                                                                                        Malachi 3:10
 Giving seems to explain the reason for all this man did. And, God blessed his life for it. Look around at the pictures his family has shared. See how there was "not enough room to receive it." He gave by taking care of what he had. The town of Thornville was a treasure to him and he felt the need to walk around and make sure all was in it's proper place. A story was shared with me last night about how the owner of the beauty parlor came out her back down to see Lester's car parked out back, doors open, engine running. No Lester to be found. After calling for him and not seeing him anywhere she finds him in the bottom of the nearby dumpster yelling for help. "I'm not you out of there. You're all covered in grime and gunk now." Why in the world was he in the dumpster in the first place? He probably found something wasn't where it was supposed to be and figured he'd take care of it.

Taking care of things was what he did. Picking up trash around town or taking care of his family and his church, the center of life was following what he felt the Lord wanted him to do. There is an index card here that simple reads...

Proverbs 18.22 READ IT!!

Ok..I looked it up.

Proverbs 18:22

King James Version (KJV)
22 Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the Lord.

Ah! We see a large window into the life of a man intent on following the Lord's will for his life.
He knew he needed a good woman in his life in order for life to be as it should be. And, he found a good one with his Mary. Take a look at the pictures. I don't see said faces or sour looks. I see smiles. I see all out laughter at times. Part of that "favour of the Lord" must be to be happy. This man is happy. And, it shows in what he does. Part of what makes him happy is being in God's house, with his wife and his family. I have been shown the place where he and his wife sat in church, every week. The floor is worn from where their feet were each week. This was not to be missed. You better have a good reason for not being here. These two did not miss. Church was that important. God was that important. This bible was that important. FAITH was that important.

So important that he bolded it out and underlined it on that index card.
The two key words in that verse were in contrast and he wanted to make as he read it again and again that he would always know how important they were. FAITH and SIGHT. "We walk by FAITH, and not by SIGHT." The Christian life is about believing in something you cannot lay a hand on and say "There it is!" As Lester worn the binding off this book, he began to see what was on the other side more clearly, and yet, he did not become overwhelmed or consumed by it. He was still a man in touch with his world and his people. Ornery would be a good word to describe him, many would agree. I'm told he had a fantastic sense of humor. Always liked a good joke. Always liked to laugh. Always seemed to be smiling. Happy with life and content with what life gave him. he couldn't see what was coming. Rarely do we see what coming around the corner. Our minds begin to break down. Our bodies begin to get frail. We need other to take care of us. Because of how he lived his life, taking care of his town and his people, in turn, his people and his town took care of him. The care he received in his last years and days was wonderful.

And, now, the mantle is passed to you.
Could you possibly do what this man has done? Is this bible held as near and dear to you as it was for this man? Could you possibly mark a book up with as much shear desire as this man did? Does the scripture that God wants to speak to us from hold as much importance for your life as it did for this man? Does family means as much to you as it did to this man? Does loving your family and caring for those around us mean the same to you as it did for this man?

If family get-togethers were something you did while these two special people were alive, then don't let the specialness fade or the spirit die. Get together with those near and dear to you and keep the tradition alive. Sunday dinners, if that's what you did. Keeping track of family and town history. Going to church, either by yourself or as a family. If this man and his life are that important then keep his memory alive by living as he did. He walked by FAITH. He didn't looked forward to what he could see. He looked forward to what lie ahead. Let our focus be as his was. Let us have the same resolve to hang on to our FAITH. To love our families. To love our church and our community.

With all the talk of how things used to be and how good things were when men like this were around permeate our conversations, let us remember: it was because of men like this that things were as good as they were. If we want things to be good again, if we want to see good times and good things happening in our midst, then lets follow his lead. Through his FAITH, he laid a foundation we can build upon. A firm foundation that does not crumble or shake under our feet. A love that cannot be moved. We need more Lester Anspach(s) in the world. Maybe someone sitting here has the resolve inside them to do as Lester did. To make his/her world a better place. Simply by being faithful. Simply by walking by FAITH.

Every piece of trash you see in a front yard.
Every oatmeal creme pie you partake.
Everytime you pick up your bible.
Every joke you tell and smile you bring.
We follow his example and see what the Lord wants us to be.

Walk by FAITH, not by SIGHT.

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