Every once in a while, a kind note or message arrives as a pleasant surprise—like when you hear from someone who you haven’t seen or spoken with in decades. I have been learning the value of kind words, and words that express appreciation. Kind words mean a great deal. Many of you have expressed such kindness, for which Wyndham and I are eternally grateful.
As I write these Wednesday blogs, I have several goals in mind. One is to honor a man I love and respect deeply. Another is to share wisdom observed from his life, in hopes that it can spark practical spiritual growth, encouragement, or inspiration.
Another purpose for these blogs is personal. They help me to recount precious memories and things I have learned (and am learning) as I process what the aggressive and progressive nature of Wyndham’s illness brings—a deep current and anticipatory grief (and sometimes fear), yet somehow accompanied by inexpressible gratitude, intimacy with God, trust, and a peace that passes human understanding. (Thank you, God.)
Wyndham, until he was unable to continue the process, was working on a book (which I’ll finish) entitled, “Gleanings from a Shepherd.” This comes from his life, containing stories of lessons learned from God (through life) concerning qualities of an elder. I pray that the “gleanings” expressed from others in these blogs (and hopefully from me as well—as the one who has witnessed his life up close and personal for four and a half decades) are a helpful book of sorts. Prayerfully, many of these stories (blogs) along with others unpublished, will one day accompany his “Gleanings from a Shepherd” book.
Today’s nugget of Wyndham’s wisdom, from an old friend we have not seen for many decades, recounts yet another important quality of wisdom—consideration. All too often, it’s easy to keep conversations shallow and incomplete, leaving relationships at a standstill. The scriptures teach us to consider how to stir each other up to love and good deeds.
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,… (Hebrews 10:24)
“Consider” means we think through, study, and meditate on something. Wyndham excels at learning (considering) and valuing people—often resulting in stirrings of love and kindness. Today Jerry Sprague, that “old” friend from our campus ministry days in Raleigh, North Carolina, sent the following note:
Wyndham was very instrumental in my spiritual growth when I was a young Christian. I grew up not knowing how to communicate negative feelings, so I would always stuff them inside. One time, Wyndham and I were supposed to meet somewhere, and he forgot. When he realized it, he approached me in fellowship and apologized. I gave him my typical response, “Oh, that’s okay; no big deal.” He looked me straight in the eyes and said, Brother, tell me how you really feel. That’s the only way I can ever get to know you.
That moment had a tremendous impact on my spiritual development. I should have verbalized how disappointed I was and that it did hurt me; in scriptural terms, “speaking the truth in love.” That’s the first time I really understood what it meant to be open and to speak the truth in love. God used Wyndham to teach me this truth.
It was still a struggle to be that open, but that was the starting point! Wyndham was always so gentle with me, and we continued to have a warm and effective relationship. I remember shedding tears when he told me he was moving. He had been such an inspiration to me. Please give him my love and thank him for the love he showed me!
May we all use consideration in our conversations. We never know the effect our words can have.