Mr. Standfast

"Nothing taken for granted; everything received with gratitude; everything passed on with grace." G. K. Chesterton

July 01, 2004


Yesterday we went to a concert in the park. At a place called Mill Creek Park, which boasts a duck pond, an arching wooden bridge, and a gazebo. In the summertime, on Wednesday nights, bands play in the gazebo, and people throw blankets on the grass, line up their lawn chairs, and enjoy the summer evening with live music. Last night a friend of ours played. He'’s in a vocal group called Under the Song Tree. This was really cool, because these are three fine musicians, but the best thing was that we ran into Tom and Leah there.

Today I want to tell you about Tom:

He’'s an old friend. He'’s a passionate guy whose exuberance is sometimes hard to take. He hugs you hard and tells you he loves you out loud and tears come to his eyes and this is all quite genuine. Once he stood in front of our men'’s group and preached, and he preached like Richard Baxter said all men ought to preach: as a dying man to dying men.

Watch out if you go anywhere with him. Let’s do lunch, you might suggest. You wind up doing an afternoon, an evening. He waylays you, he reels you in. He says, share my passion. Share my heart. And let me share in your heart and your passion. Come out of your well-worn path, friend. Come out.

That’s Tom. He'’s hard to take sometimes. He'’s a tidal wave. A force of nature. You stop at a gas station or a convenience store with him, and the next thing you know he’'s standing there by the potato chips praying for a guy he’'s just met. He's intense, preposterous, fervent, annoying, and I love the man.

Tom has three kids, another one coming. Of course his love for them is fierce, unrelenting. He’s a musician, too, and a good one. You can listen to one of his songs, "Creator," by going to this website.

Anyway, we ran into them at the concert. I knew something was definitely wrong when Tom didn't leap out of his chair to give me a hug. We sat down with them, Laurie chatting with Leah, me with Tom. And Tom says, I'm in trouble, Bob. And he begins to explain to me that he thinks he's suffering from some kind of clinical depression. He broke down at a meeting at work, started crying like a baby. His boss told him to take the week off, get help. Now he thinks they're going to let him go. He said to me, Did you ever feel like the four walls have closed in tight, and there's no room to move? Did you ever feel like every decision you've ever made was a bad one?

When the concert was over we met some other friends, and we walked down the street for ice cream. I could see that Leah was trying to be cheerful, to keep things light. As for me, I had no idea what to say. I have learned that anything that I can possibly say at times like this just sort of rings hollow.

Later, we walked them back to their car. It was dark by this time, and we stood there in a tight little circle, holding hands, and we prayed for them.

I tell you, my heart is breaking for this man.


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