A Humble Walk with Jesus
By Karen Deikun
A great spiritual leader died this year. His name wasnít mentioned on the news networks and no famous people sent condolences to his family to mark his passing. He was not a preacher or pope, nor a TV evangelist. His name was Ray MacDonald. Youíve probably never heard of him.
He was a soft-spoken, gentle man who loved to fish or work with his tools in the garage. A professional painter and paper hanger for many years, he always did the very best job that he could wherever he worked. People noticed that and they appreciated it. They also enjoyed his gentle humor and unfailing good nature.
Children seemed to gravitate to him. He carried erasers in his pocket which he would hand out to the kids. Perhaps they were symbolic of the fact that Jesus could erase the penalty for sin and begin a childís life over with a clean page. Along with each eraser came a smile, a hug, or just a hand laid gently on a shoulder.
Ray loved the following verse from Micah: "He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" (Micah 6:8 NAS). His life was an expression of this verse. He wore grace like a cloak and often spread it over the weary shoulders of another. His heart looked to God daily for direction, wisdom, and strength.
His memorial service was held in a small church and people came from long distances. The room was full of people whose lives had been touched by his. A few minutes were set aside during the service for folks to say a few words about Ray. Minutes became hours as person after person came up front to share a story. A personís character comes out best in the stories that people tell about them. Although the stories always started out being about Ray, somehow, they ended up being about Godís grace. Even in death Ray stepped aside and allowed people to see the Lord.
It seemed that he "adopted" dozens of children and grandchildren to add to his already large family. People told of the quiet peace that seemed to envelope them when they spoke with him. One woman mentioned that he was the only person who gave her his undivided attention when they talked Ė a precious gift in a world where no one seems to have time to really listen. Others said that he gave them unconditional love. He was always ready to lend a hand where it was needed. One young man related that heíd stayed with Ray and his wife for several weeks. They had let him move in on the strength of the fact that he was their grandsonís friend. In all that time he called them Poppy and Mimi; he didnít even know their last name. This only caused a problem when he went out one day, got lost, and realized he couldnít call them on the phone, nor look them up in the phone book.
As his family members got up to speak there seemed to be no hidden issues. No one mentioned a grudge or misunderstanding that went unresolved. They loved him and he loved them. He was a loving husband, married to the same woman for 59 years; he was a father who hugged his children every day; and he was a friend who showed up when you needed him. He was the same at home as he was in public.
In this life we see the eternal through a glass darkly. Ray was better than most at understanding the substance behind those shadows Ė and what he understood he simply lived. Others might discuss the application of the spiritual but he was one of those who demonstrated it. His life made grace more than a concept Ė it made it a reality. He was not a perfect man but he clearly showed that he was a forgiven man at peace with God.
It took a long time for Ray to die and he was in great pain. He longed to be with Jesus and pleaded with God to take him home. But amidst the suffering he was as sweet and loving as always. Nothing changed that. From the day he asked Jesus into his heart his life had been a journey with one destination: Jesus. In his quiet way he spoke with unshakable conviction of where he was going. He talked about his Savior as if He was right in the room.
On April 12, 2005, Ray stepped through the dark glass of the physical world into the glorious light of heaven. In an instant, in the twinkling of an eye, he was in the embrace of the One he had been longing to see.
Karen Deikun thinks she was born writing. Itís easier for her to express herself in writing than in speaking. Being a thankful child of God, her identity in Christ sparks most of the thoughts and ideas that are interwoven into her writing. She's a church secretary and church newsletter editor, a wife to her husband, Walt, and mother to two grown children. You can write to Karen through the Letters page of this magazine.
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