Wednesday, September 19, 2007

One of the Good Guys

Ron was nearly 80 when I met him 10 years ago. He had a gentle spirit, and a calm heart. He wasn't given to frivolity, but there was a twinkle in his eye. He was a man who knew how to love.

I had been hired as the youth pastor, so my time and energy went toward the 12-18 year-olds. But, as the situation proved more stressful than I'd bargained for, as factions broke out in the church, as angry voices started crying out against the pastor and myself - right at that point, Ron became my true friend.

He took me out to Red Lobster for lunch. We talked. His frustration was evident. But, the thing is, he sided with the younger folks. He was upset at the way the seniors were attempting to maintain control, and in so doing, driving all the younger people away. Ron wanted to see this church thrive. And he saw that I was losing heart, so he decided to encourage me. He decided to be my friend.

Every time we met he'd ask me what I thought about it all. How we might turn things around. How we might save the church. How he could encourage me.

Once or twice he handed me $20 and told me to spend it on myself.

When I left that church, it hurt Ron. He understood why we left. He completely agreed that it was necessary, but it still hurt him. And, as time passed and I was further away from that church, I started to miss Ron. When I thought about that church, Ron was always one of the brightest memories. When times became tough again, I wished I had another Ron around, just to sit with and talk about stuff.

Last April, I was at the North Pacific Conference Annual Meeting, and who should be sitting at the table next to me but Ron and his wife Evelyn. It was a joyous reunion - the same smile on his face, the same kid-like glee in his eyes.

And in June, at the Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Covenant Church, I saw Ron again. His health had caught up to him - he was having trouble breathing and walking. But we still had a good talk, and he was still the same old Ron. Doesn't it always feel good when you run into an old friend, and you can tell they are just happy to see you? That's what it was like. Ron was overjoyed to see Karina and me. I was encouraged just to be in his presence again.

Ron passed away yesterday, just short of his 89th birthday. I miss him already. Just the thought that he was out there could make me happy. Just the thought that I had a friend in Gresham who loved me encouraged me greatly. Whenever I would think of the hard times we went through at that church, I would always come back to Ron and say "But we got to know Ron, so it's all okay."

Ron was one of those men every church needs. He was a saint. He was real, he was honest, he was insightful, but, most of all, he was a friend when I needed one - and he went out of his way to pursue that friendship with me.

May the Lord carry his soul into eternal rest. May the Lord carry him gently to his side. And may the Lord fill our lives with many more Ron Fischers.
Just as I was reading the email notifying me of Ron's death, this song by David Crowder started playing:

Are we left here on our own?
Can you feel when your last breath is gone?
Night is weighing heavy now,
be quiet, wait, for the voice that will say. . .

Come awake, from sleep, arise.
You were dead, become alive.
Wake up, wake up, open your eyes.
Climb from your grave into the light. . .
Bring us back to life.

You are not the only one
who feels like the only one.
Night soon will be lifted friend
just be quiet and wait for the voice that will say

Come awake, from sleep, arise
You were dead, become alive
Wake up, wake up, open your eyes
Climb from your grave into the light. . .

Arise! Shine! Wake up, wake up!


White Rabbit said...

Ron sounds like a breath of fresh air. i have hope that God puts us to work here on earth after we graduate from this life. i think about those faithful saints who are somehow still involved with our lives here on earth, as a great cloud of witnesses. This thought gives me hope for the visible Church.

Gracie said...

hey, that's "my" friend up there commenting on your blog. cool. i love that.

i wanna know ron! what a great portrait of a saint in your life. i'm sorry for your loss, Dan but thanks for including the snapshot for the rest of us.

Lori said...

Would that we all had a friend like Ron. The world would be a better place. Thanks for sharing and I'm truly sorry for your loss.