Fool 17

12 04 2020

As we’re coming away from this Easter season, I found myself thinking about all that hasRock _n occurred to me and all the people who have come along side to help me understand a true relationship with Jesus Christ. The ones who showed that knowing Christ was more than a religion we practice on Sundays, it’s an everyday walk, talk, sometimes rejoicing, other times struggling. I’ll be the first to admit it hasn’t always been easy; there were times I saw no purpose or reason to continue on this path. But by watching others when they hit rough road and still held strong to their faith, I learned a great deal about trust and faithfulness. One of those individuals is a dear friend of 50 years I some times refer to as, “Fool 17.”

Back in the early 70s a movement started in California and quickly swept the nation was known as the Jesus Revolution. I can’t begin to count the number of young people that began carrying Bibles and openly telling others about the love of God through His Son Jesus Christ. You couldn’t go into the schools, or a store, or even walk down the street without running into some “Jesus Freaks” as we called them. They were blessed everywhere, and the more I encountered them the more I was turned off by what they were pitching. I’ve never been a person to jump on a bandwagon for whatever was popular at the time and this didn’t seem to be much different than a fad that after a while would wear down. But a friend who I happened to be playing music with came to band practice one evening and announced, “Last night I gave my life to Christ, and today I’m a new creature.” New creature, huh? Well, we’ll see, I thought. The prior day had been April 1, known by many as April Fool’s Day. Perhaps I was thinking that’s fitting, seeing that this wasn’t everything it was cracked up to be and he would soon be back to his old self. Besides, he was one of the best male singers I ever worked with and I sure didn’t want to see him going off the deep end being a Jesus Freak for Pete’s sake! But as I watched him, I saw something different.  He wasn’t just toting a Bible; he was reading it. Deeply he would throw himself in the Word to dig out everything it had to offer. It wasn’t long before he was leading Bible studies, sometimes of groups over a hundred. Not only that, he began writing songs about his relationship with Jesus. One of my favorites went like this; “O Holy Jesus, how could you let them nail you to the cross? O Holy Jesus, how could you suffer so and die for us? I don’t know how I can express the things I want to say. O Holy Jesus, I’ve just accepted you today.” His heart began to convince me that this wasn’t a fad he was following; this was knowing a true and loving God and obeying Him. It took about 18 months before I came to the point in my life that I gave my life over Christ, and with the help of my friend and many others, I, too, began to know God, who He was, and why He loved me.

This would be a pretty awesome story if in continued like this, but as I predicted earlier, many who called themselves Believers walked away. Some, like I said, because it was the popular craze; and when it ran it course, they moved on to something else. There were others that fell upon hardships of one type or another, and when God didn’t deliver, they simply walked away. But for others and my friend, they stayed the course, some like him attended Bible Colleges and Seminaries to go into full time Christian work. Another song he wrote seemed almost prophetic. “Many brothers, friends, and lovers now have fallen by the way. Their act is one as if they’d never cared. But deep within their eyes, you see their frightened spirit run, to catch the sweet resurrection train for home.”  So, one could get the idea that his course was set and God was blessing his every move. Oh, if only that was true for any of us. You see, over those 50 years of friendship I’ve seen his high points as well as his low. I’ve been with him when it seemed he couldn’t take another step from the hardships. I’ve been there when he’s lost ones dearest to him, and I’ve witnessed moments when his dreams and plans lay in ruin. On occasions, his life seemed to be in a downward spiral, and truthfully, if had he called me and said, “I can’t do this anymore and I’m not going to,” I probably couldn’t have blamed him. I’ve seen some mighty men with half the trials he’s endured throw in the towel. But you see, that’s what separates those who follow a religion or a practice from those who serve their Lord no matter what comes. That my friends, is my buddy.

James 1:12 “A man who endures trials is blessed, because when he passes the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.” My friend was not going to be swayed from trusting and obeying his Lord. The harder the times came, the deeper he held to Christ. As one fellow put it in the Old Testament, “Though he slays me, yet will I hope in Him.” Reminds me also a quote from Lincoln, “Be sure you put your feet in the right place. Then stand firm.”

So, now that we’re 66 and not 16, I can look back at “Fool 17” and realize what his stand has meant to so many who have needed to know that no matter what, God is still there for them. And that truly means this man as well. Thank you, Donnie, I wouldn’t want to even think of where I would be had God not brought you into my life. I’ve rejoiced with you as our Lord has used you for His purpose, even on three continents, and I’ve cried with you when the world was crashing in; and still, you stood firm. I love you Brother.

Tonight, I want to close with lines that this “Traveler of the Rock Road” wrote that sums up Donnie so well.

“Lord, don’t know where I’m going, no don’t know where I’m bound. Won’t you, come into my heart now, cause I’ve just driven myself in the ground.

Lord I know that you’re with me, and now I submit to your love. I know you’ll always protect me, just the same as the sparrow and the dove.

Lord, you’ve got to carry me, please carry me on to my home. Lord, I’ll slide and I’ll falter, unless you hold, onto my soul.”

Happy Belated Birthday Donnie.  May God continue to raise up many Fool 17s.

See ya next time.

















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