Prepping for Carmen’s funeral. I’ve got lots of funeral messages. Here was Grandpa’s (Stan’s) opening for his funeral for his father Hiram.
I had a dream one night, when I was 3 or 4 years old. I dreamed that the end of the world had come. It was the last day and God had arrived to stop the earth. But first he stopped in to see my folks. In my dream I came downstairs for breakfast, and there stood God next to the old black cook stove in the kitchen of our country parsonage 2 and ½ miles outside of Vesper Wisconsin, talking with my mom and dad. God was like a big man, bigger than my father. He had a deeper voice. He commanded respect, absolutely, because he was God, but he was also very cordial, and he laughed a lot. It was a very happy morning. It was the kind of dream from which you would just as soon not have to wake up.
As I look back on this childish dream, now 52 or 53 years later, it strikes me that it speaks powerfully of the early impact my parents made on me. They were godly people, and it seemed entirely appropriate to me that before God would do anything as radical as bringing in the consummation, he would stop in to see them and have a chat.
My world was small but rich. Out the parsonage bay window in the side living room I could look across the driveway, across my father’s garden, to the bit of gravel that served for a parking lot (such as it was) beyond which stood the little, frame, T shaped church. It was stretched only when I sat in the back seat of the ’29 Chevy and rode along with my dad on pastoral calls, where I might play on the floor with a toy car and listen in on long and caring conversations with sometimes hurting people, or go along to the Wisconsin Rapids hospital and hear the prayer offered for a sick member. I know now that these early impressions of living, serving, pastoring were used by the Spirit to profoundly influence my life and lead to the discovery of my calling.
The God of my dream was like my father, only more so!
Dad projected calmness and joy. He embodied the 4th chapter of Philippians, as well as the 8th chapter of Romans, whose 28th verse was one of his favorite quotes. He knew how to relax well, as well as to work faithfully. His laugh was hearty, his smile enthusiastic and warm, his speech often sparkled with puns. His cheerful happiness was balanced with a deep seriousness about the Word of truth and the truth of the Word. It gave us our security. There was no question that the way of faith was the only way to live! His preaching and his living, both nurtured my brother and sister and I in the ways of God.
He was not an authoritarian man, not heavy handed in either his pastoring or parenting, not at all, not in the least. He did not in any way “exasperate” his children. He provoked no rebellion. But he was not trifling either, and not to be trifled with. Gentle, slow to anger, but on those rare occasions when he did, it was fearsome. He did not provide a display of temper then so much as an outraged righteousness which burned with a clean white heat. It filled me not with mortal fear, but moral fear.
And so he leaves two sons who had in him a sterling model of Christian manhood, and a daughter who together with her husband have showed their appreciation by giving themselves unstintingly to his care (as well as the care of both sets of their aged parents), a daughter who loved him so much that she was still sitting on his lap during mealtime devotions when she was big enough for her feet to reach the floor.