Tuesday, June 16, 2009

64 years...just imagine! I've only been alive for 50, and only married for half of those.

Bob Mangum's faith became sight a couple of days ago.

The important stuff first: Please pray for Mr. Bob's wife--of 64 years!--Mrs. Lorene. And for their 2 daughters. And for their grandchildren, two of whom I know. And their great grandchildren.

Mr. Bob served in what became the U.S. Air Force toward the end of WW2. Then he came back to Hattiesburg near his home (Magee, MS), married his sweetie & worked in the local Hercules Chemical factory from which he retired some years back.

I knew him the last 20 years of his life. I knew him in multiple dimensions: a deacon & leader in my church...the father of a friend's wife...the grandfather of two great young adults that I watched grow up...the great husband of a great wife who loved her dearly (last time I saw him, he still had a twinkle in his eye, laughing with me about how well we married)...a guy I always enjoyed chatting with, who always asked about me and about my family. A role model in so many ways.

Mr. Bob was injured in an industrial accident some years back that damaged his eyesight. And yet, I never heard him complain. He was one of those guys who was just rock solid & steady. Every young man--and us not-so-young men!--need role models like him in our lives.

And now we are short one role model. I really fear for us...for our church, our community, our area, and our nation...when "the greatest generation" is but a memory.

Where will the role models come from?

Who will teach us by word and deed and lifestyle what it means to be a man?

Who will show us how to harness and control our masculinity?
(look around our society; basically, that's not being taught any more...and we are raising a generation of punks with a severely diminished grasp of "manhood")

Who will model how to love a woman "as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her"?

Who will show us how to disagree without being disagreeable?

Who will demonstrate that Christianity is so much more than reading books & quoting proper theological terms properly?

Who will teach by word and deed what it means to be a faithful church member?
(again, look around; we are raising a generation of Christian tourists & buffet-like consumers..."I'll go to Bible study here, worship there, preaching over there, small group over here" In other words, "I'm not going to commit to anything, because that might require service to others and sacrifice and consistency and inconvenience and [gasp!] tithing & sacrificial financial giving, and other things that are, you know, yucky & stuff"...)

Who will show us how to finish well, straining toward the finish line even through sickness and pain and difficulty? How to forget what lies behind and press forward to what lies ahead?

Who will live such that when he passes from our midst, his loss is felt painfully and widely?

I fear for us. God help us.

Thanks, Mr. Bob, for being my friend. Thanks for being genuinely interested in me and in my family. Thanks for the times we laughed together. Thanks for finishing well even through pain & illness. And thanks for your faithful service to our Lord and to your family and to our church and to our country and to our world.

Your life mattered greatly, and your passing leaves a gaping hole. Rest in peace, my friend. See you later.


p.s. - this passage--a favorite of mine--came to mind as I was pondering Mr. Bob's life & legacy:

Do not cast me off in the time of old age;
forsake me not when my strength is spent.
But I will hope continually
and will praise you yet more and more.
My mouth will tell of your righteous acts,
of your deeds of salvation all the day,
for their number is past my knowledge.
With the mighty deeds of the Lord God I will come;
I will remind them of your righteousness, yours alone.
O God, from my youth you have taught me,
and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds.
So even to old age and gray hairs, O God,
do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation,
your power to all those to come.
Psalm 71:9, 14-18

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