Sunday, July 15, 2012
A Legacy of Joy
Last week a dear man from our church passed away. This man was one of the very first people I ever met when I walked through the doors of Arcade. Gib Schmidt was the first person many people met as he was an usher for over thirty years. He was a fixture at Vacation Bible School, into his nineties, corralling hundreds of elementary school children through obstacle courses, water gun fights and relay games. He loved kids and was energized by games and fun. Once, I can't remember why, probably to promote VBS, he dashed onto the stage at church and began doing pushups. He was in his late 80s when he did this, making the silly stunt rather impressive. He loved people and he loved Jesus. He was a humble and hard working servant to the people of our church. He loved to tell stories. He loved to talk.
I was 21 when I first met Gib, brand new in my faith and coming to church alone for the very first time. I had decided to make my faith my own and allow God to work in my heart as He saw fit. God saw fit that I should go to the evening service at Arcade Church, where Gib was an usher. He shook my hand heartily, introduced himself and asked me my name.
"Claire?" He said "That's a pretty name!" I can still hear him saying "Claire! That's a pretty name!" because he had a distinctive accent. I could never quite place it. It sounded German, but I know that he grew up in Missouri not terribly far from where I grew up. Whatever it was it was soft and sweet and musical. You could get lost in his accent, which was just fine with him, because he loved to talk.
While he loved to talk and tell stories and joke, in my interactions with him he also listened. He always wanted to know how I was doing and how Aaron and the kids were. I would tell him and He would smile and say, "Boy, Jesus sure has blessed you hasn't he?" and I would smile and say, "Yes, He has." Gib loved people and he loved Jesus. Not ever, not once did I leave a interaction with him without a grin on my face. "Boy, Jesus sure has blessed you." I can hear it.
I would leave Gib certain of two facts. Gib loved me and Jesus loved me. He had a way of making sure you knew that, but not in an obnoxious in-your-face sort of way. No, he was genuinely so happy to see you that you just couldn't help but feel loved in his presence. He lived out joy in Christ better than anyone I have met, ever.
It was lovely to be at his memorial service on Friday and hear how he touched so many lives. It made me think of how wonderful it must be for his family to hear about the simple ways he touched people. Just by being there, smiling, shaking hands, telling stories, listening, encouraging, and loving, he lived out his faith every single day. Gib was 93 when he passed away, I only knew him for 12 years, but I promise the joy he left me will be with me always.
I hope I leave a legacy half so rich for my family. I hope that I can learn to find joy in everything through Christ. I hope that everyone I ever meet knows how much I love them, no matter who they are or what their circumstances might be.
I have quite a bit of work to do, don't I?