Being properly equipped

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But for their sake I will remember the covenant with their ancestors whom I brought out of Egypt in the sight of the nations to be their God. I am the Lord.’” ~ Leviticus 26:45

I hope and trust everyone had a great and wonderful Memorial Day. This was easily the saddest Memorial Day that I’ve ever experienced, but also one of the best. My own Dad passed away last September so this was the first Memorial Day in my life that he wasn’t around to celebrate with. Dad is buried in the Detroit Township cemetery that is about 2 1/2 miles from the farm where he spent over 55 years. In the picture behind his grave stone a floater unit is preparing the field for planting. Dad so loved this area and he loved farming. It is a fitting resting place for him.

Detroit Township cemetery is also the place that I saw my Dad in his saddest state I had ever seen him. That was early June 25 years ago next month. We were burying his long-time friend and best friend, Phillip. Phil was only 59 when cancer took its toll. Phil is buried only about 25 feet or so from my Dad. They had so many times together bowling and fishing. Talking about farming, family and friends. I will never forget the loneliness and empty look on Dad’s face that day.

Just a few feet away from Phil is Phil’s grandson, Dillon. Dillon was the son of one of my own best friends, Mark. Mark was Phil’s son and Mark and I did a lot of the same things together that our dads did. Poor little Dillon didn’t have a very long life though. He was born 6 March 1986 and passed away 15 February 1989 just 3 weeks before my own son was born. Over the years that Dillon was with us he had to fight to live and his parents took such good care of him. I was one of Mark’s best friends but I was sorely ill-equipped for the task that I needed to do to help out.

Those were the days that I was a believer but not necessarily a follower of Christ. I prayed some but not very often. I should have been praying for my friends and with my friends. I didn’t know what to do. So I did the only things I knew. That was to try to be a better friend. I talked to Mark but mostly I wanted to listen when he had something to say. We would take turns driving to town for bowling and since we lived only a mile and a half apart it made a lot of sense to do this. When it was my turn to drive I would sit in my pickup and listen as long as Mark wanted to talk. When it was his turn to drive I would stay in his pickup as long as we had something to say. Whether he drove or I drove sometimes it was 2 or 3 in the morning when we would part ways. I would guess this was part of being fellow Christians.

Yesterday, my wife, daughter and I picked up my Mom and we drove over to the cemetery to visit Dad’s grave and to check on the flowers Mom and my brothers placed there earlier. It has also been a tough weekend for Mom and my brothers and Mom said she might have to lean on us as she might be emotional. Mom said to us that every time she goes she has moments that are tough but maybe it was getting a bit easier. I never said this but I was thinking it when I decided to write this piece but it should be tough when we go visit because Dad meant so much to us and he was such a positive influence to us all. But it should also get easier for us because we all know that Dad really is in a better place and he did not suffer and he didn’t have to languish in a hospital or a manor, things he dreaded so much.

These days I go to Mark and Faye’s home every year on or about the 6th of March to reminisce about Dillon. I want them to know that the little guy affected me in a good way and I want them to know that I will always remember him and also treasure their friendship of all these years. I used to visit the graves of Phil and Dillon every once is awhile but now I will be going there more often as Dad’s grave is right there too.

Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which God will bring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen. ~ 1 Timothy 6:12-16 +++

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Therefore put on the full armor of God,so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.  In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. ~ Ephesians 6:10-18 +++

If I would have known the Lord in those days long ago, I would have been better equipped to help my friends when they were hurting the most. I needed the Armor of God to share with them, something I feel that I have now, but not then.

 

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About David Christenson: He is a lifelong resident of South Dakota, grew up on a farm north of Claremont and attended school in Amherst and Britton, graduating from Britton in 1977. David married Gretchen Tisher in 1984. Gretchen is also a graduate of Britton and teaches math and drama at Britton-Hecla high school. David and Gretchen have two children. Zach is an engineer for Continental Ag in Norfolk, Nebraska and his wife Amanda is a nurse. Margo lives in Denver and works as a Marketing & Outreach coordinator for MyLifeLine.org, a cancer support not-for-profit entity. David started a cow/calf operation in the 1980s and farmed on the family farm after his high school graduation until December of 1994 when he accepted a sales position at the John Deere store in Britton. David left the John Deere sales position in March of 2006 and became a licensed crop insurance agent in May of 2006. David also started a rental business in 2010 and remained in the cattle business until January of 2012. David, age 55, has had some extraordinary circumstances in his life. He was run over by a farm tractor before age 6 and had three heart attacks a few months before turning 40. Then he suffered life threatening injuries a few months after turning 50 in a hit and run incident. David was diagnosed with leukemia in 2012 and skin cancer in 2014. David started writing his recovery experiences on Facebook in December of 2009. Over the next four years those Facebook notes became what would become chapters in his book, “Why Are You Here?” which was published in December of 2013.

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