Minister’s Forum: A true story – honestly
Former U.S. Rep. Tip O’ Neill tells a story of a man nicknamed “Honest Jake.” Honest Jake became well known in the Boston area because of his assistance to three generations of immigrant families. He owned a little variety store and would extend credit to poor immigrants to help them get started in a new land.
As Honest Jake neared his 60th birthday, a group of people he had helped through the years decided to give him a party and a generous gift of money. Jake received the money gratefully and began to use it for a makeover. He had his teeth capped. He bought a hairpiece. He invested in a diet and exercise program, and lost a lot of weight. He purchased a whole new wardrobe.
Then he boarded a plane, and a few hours later, the new Honest Jake hit the beach in Miami. He met a beautiful young woman, asked her for a date, and she accepted. But before he could go, a thunderstorm came up, and Honest Jake was struck by a lightning bolt. He died instantly.
In Heaven, he said to God, “After all those years of hard work, I was just trying to enjoy myself a little. Why? Why me?”
God said, “Oh, is that you, Jake? I’m sorry, I didn’t recognize you.”
People smile at this, but what a chilling story when taken seriously. Is that us? We figuratively cap our teeth, put on our hairpiece, don the acceptable clothes, and overall change our spiritual image to conform to what the world expects. Sooner or later, we don’t recognize ourselves as God’s child. And, sadly, neither does God.
God doesn’t look on the outward appearance. God looks upon the heart. How is your heart today?
I’d like to conclude with a poem that speaks to the heart.
“Dash” Author: Unknown
I read of a man who stood to speak at the funeral of his friend.
He referred to the dates on her tombstone from beginning to end.
He noted that first came the date of her birth, and spoke of the second with tears
but he said that what mattered most of all, was the dash between those years
and now, only those who loved her , know what that little line is worth.
For it matters not how much we own, the cars, the house, the cash
what matters is how we live and love, and how we spend our dash.
So think about this long and hard, are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left, you could be at “dash mid-range.”
If we could just slow down enough to consider, what’s true and what’s real
and always try to understand, the way other people feel.
And be less quick to anger, show appreciation more
and love the people in our lives, like we’ve never loved before.
If we treat each other with respect, and more often wear a smile
remembering that this special dash, might only last a little while.
So, when your eulogy is being read, with your life’s lessons to rehash…
Would you be pleased with the things they say about how you spent your dash?
– The Rev. Rodney Petzak is a priest at St. John’s in the Wilderness Episcopal Church.