In the summer of 1983, I met a very special man. One of my first encounters with this special man was he offered me a peach freshly picked up from the Farmer’s Market. Not only did he offer me a peach but he peeled it for me. All I had to do was sit there and enjoy the sweetness of the peach and the conversation that came with it.
Over time, I have experienced many special encounters of this man. He is a man of few words but of a lot of action. When you are at his home, regardless of how much you offer to help out, he is always insistent to take care of you.
I have watched this man plant and harvest a garden for 29 years of my life. Through the harvest of the garden, my family has enjoyed wonderful fellowship around the table as we savor the rewards of this gardener’s work. Along with the rewards of the seeds planted in Spring, I see rewards of seeds sown throughout this man’s family. You see these rewards on the faces of his family and friends as the freshly picked and cooked vegetables are passed around the table.
On many occasions, he will spend countless hours at the church he loves up on ladders fixing electrical issues, changing light bulbs or helping other men with outside maintenance of the church grounds. As a matter of fact, not long after his first surgery of finding out he had cancer, he was out with the men digging a trench and filling it with concrete to resolve a water issue on the church grounds.
There is not a room in my house that I do not go in without thinking of this special man. Each light, light switch, and outlet has his name on it. You see, when we decided to build our home, he offered his time and talent to wire our home. At night, I can look out back to the little workshop that my husband uses and see a light on. Again, I am reminded of this special guy because he made it possible for my husband to have electricity in his shed. Then, I am reminded that he is a man of light. Not only does he know how to make light physically shine in a home but he lets his light and love for Christ shine through his actions.
He has volunteered on many mission building trips. Again, creating light and shining his light all the while. This man has also been honored to be in the presence of our Former President, Jimmy Carter where he heard President Carter teach Sunday School. This happened not only once in his life time but twice.
When you are in this man’s presence, you are with a man of few words. He is a leader by example. In the 29 years I have known him, I have never heard a swear word spoken instead words of wisdom and love are spoken. I have never seen a beer can or alcoholic drink in his hand but I have seen him have a good time with a diet coke, cup of coffee and moon pie in his hand. In other words, he is a man who walks his talk and is Christ-like love in action.
The real privilege of knowing this man is that I married his son. Because of the walk and words unspoken in his son’s growing up, my husband, Jim is a true follower of his dad’s footsteps. I see the results of seeds of love, wisdom, caring for others and love in action being carried out just as his dad has taught him. Again, I have the honor to reap the benefits of seeds sown by this gardener and lights wired to shine through the years.
This special guy has three wonderful grandchildren who love and adore him. And, as they have become adults, I see them picking up the seed sacks of love and sharing them as their granddaddy has shown them. Again, it is not words of love spoken but it is the action of love that have taught his grandchildren to love their neighbor.
The guy I share about is Jim Hawkins, Sr, my father-n-law. A little over a year ago, we learned he has one of the deadliest of lung cancers, mesothelioma. Since this news came to our family, he again has taught us through his actions. Each day he shows us the importance of prayer and allowing others to pray for you. Jim, Sr. demonstrates the word of not giving up but keep on keeping on as long as you can. Along with being an example of prayer life and perseverance, he has taught us to capture every moment of every day.
Yes, a little over a year ago, Jim, Sr. got the most devastating news a person could get. But, this bit of news has not stopped him. This past summer he planted his garden. Jim and I now enjoy corn that is in our freezer that was planted, picked, cooked and frozen by Jim Sr.’s hands. Last Memorial Day, he got to go once again to Gatlinburg with his family to enjoy the Gaither Family Festival. Tickets, reservations and plans are already set for another special Memorial weekend with family and friends in Gatlinburg.
This morning, I opened my bible to 1 Peter 5:2-4 “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers-not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.” For me, this scripture describes the kind of man Jim Hawkins, Sr is to me and what he has taught his family to be in their walk.
What a challenge we are all given by men like Jim, Sr and through this scripture. As Christians we have been commissioned to be shepherds of God’s flock. It is my prayer that each day we are a love in action.
*This post is dedicated to Jim Hawkins, Sr for the legacy of love he has taught and continues to teach.