Jump Start # 3177
Psalms 37:23 “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord; and he delight in his way.”
A good man has walked among us. He touched our hearts with his kindness. His smile was infectious. His handshake was strong. He was a big man in stature and size. He was a bigger man in faith and love. I have known him for nearly twenty–five years. For ten of those years I worshipped with him and was guided by his tender counsel. He was a friend to my family. A veteran of the Korean War, distinguished as one the Presidential honor guard, his image was used on billboards across the country to encourage others to enlist and serve.
The memories of this good man run rich and deep within my heart. The stories are many. He was amazed at how many boxes of books I had when I moved them into the office at the church building long ago. He’d look at all those boxes and say, “Preacher, you better keep those boxes,” implying that I may have to fill them back up again and move. But he couldn’t say that, without a smile on his face. He and I knew of a secret blackberry patch out behind the church building that we shared with each other. We’d bring each other cinnamon rolls that were nearly as large as a hubcap. He and his lovely wife became adoptive grandparents to my children, even visiting the school in that role. We went on a field trip out into Missouri looking for the grave of some long ago preacher that I was interested in. He would take my younger sons out to get a frosty root beer and he would tell them war stories. I wasn’t invited. He wanted to be just with the boys. And, what a wonderful and delightful impression he left upon them. He had a voice that was rich and deep that he’d use to lead the congregation in singing praises to our Lord. He was a hunter. He was a wood carver. I have in a china cabinet at home an image he carved of me. Late in life, his memory and mind left him and it was so hard for those who cared so much for him and loved him so dearly to struggle with this. And, now the Lord has called him home. The door of death swung open and this gentle giant, this kind believer, was welcomed into the presence of God.
There are many people that run through our lives. The Lord allows us to intersect with all kinds of people and every once in a while, not very often, one of those crossings and intersections sticks with you. It did for my family. The joys, love, faith and laughter that we shared and enjoyed with this good man will long be part of our family heritage. We met and we were made the better because of that.
Let me share some lessons:
First, crossing two generations, this wonderful soul became a friend to my boys. It is so easy for us to only associate with those within our age group. No one asked him to befriend my children. But he did and he shared his life, his stories and his faith and left a lasting impression upon them. For those of us that are blessed to serve in the kingdom as shepherds or preachers, we may well be the first impression that many of the younger ones have of elders and preachers. Make it a good one. Get down on your knees and speak to them at their level. Let them know that you notice them and that you think the world of them. Be a friend that crosses the lines of generations. I’m somewhat envious of my sons. I wish at their age I had someone outside of the family, a man of faith, that would have paid attention to me and someone I could talk to. What a blessing this was. What a blessing he was.
Second, it’s not by accident, DNA, or luck that our dear friend was the way he was. Our verse explains it. The steps of a good man are ordered, outlined, detailed, drawn by the Lord. His kindness came from the Lord. His thoughtfulness came from the Lord. When one walks with the Lord, especially for a long, long time, the Lord tends to polish our character and change our hearts. And, thus it was for this man. His journey with Jesus was decades long. He served in the kingdom in a variety of ways, including shepherding the people of God. And, one becomes this way by wearing that Bible out. I’ve seen my friend’s Bible. Marked. Underlined. Worn pages. He was one who knew the Lord. He was a friend of God.
Third, when one walks so closely to the Lord, the footsteps are easy to follow. Thus it is with my friend. His children walk with the Lord. His grandchildren walk with the Lord. Others have said, it was because of him, that they have chosen to follow Jesus. The inheritance of faith, love and goodness stretches across our hearts. Long will this man be remembered, not just by his dear family, but by those who saw, as we have, that a good man, a righteous man, has been among us. His kind is rare these days. One who thinks of others before self. One who takes the teachings of the Lord and lives them in such a way that it makes Christianity practical, obtainable, attractive and even enjoyable.
There are times in life when one wishes that they could just push the pause button and remain in that season for a long, long time. But life is not like that. Life is very fluid, changing often. People come and people go. People move on. People pass away. Things are always changing. Puppies grow up to be old dogs. Little trees grow into mighty oaks. We get older. The river of life moves on. More things to be done. More places to go. More people to meet. But among God’s people, when a righteous man has walked through our lives and our hearts, we are not soon to ever forget. An impression is left. A significant marker and milestone is placed. A good man has been among us.
Lord, I am thankful for my sweet friend, Don Nolte. A journey completed. A faith kept. A battle won. A good man, whose steps were ordered by Lord. Thank you. Thank you for him. Thank you for putting us in the same place. Thank you for his sweet kindness, his love and his faithfulness to You. Bless his dear, dear wife, Faye, his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Bless all those who called him friend.
May we never be too busy for each other, even those younger than we are. May we never forget the power of impressions and influence that we have upon one another. May we live for You dear Lord, knowing that as we do, our hearts and character are being shaped by You.
A good man has been among us. A good man will not be forgotten. A good man has made us better. Rest sweetly dear friend, your mind is now strong, your faith is now realized and into the eyes of our dear Savior you now see.
The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord. Don Nolte was one of those good ones.