I met Bob and his wife about thirty years ago. He was just back in the states after a span of years in an east African country. Bob performed surgeries in a hospital there for people who otherwise would not have been able to afford treatment.
When funds ran low, Bob and his wife would return to the States and he would resume his practice in one of the nations largest cities. With the money Bob earned in his surgical practice, I suspect they could afford to live in a large home, drive luxurious cars, and take fabulous vacations. Instead, they saved their money so they could return to the hospital in Africa and perform surgeries for free.
Why? Because Bob believes in Jesus. Because he and his wife believed that Jesus called them to this work of mercy rather than to a life of luxury. Because Bob wants people to know that God loves them, and Jesus sacrificed himself on their behalf. That makes sense to people who have seen that Bob loves them and Bob has sacrificed on their behalf.
Not long ago, Bob’s wife of many years and his partner in the work died. Now Bob is a widower. Age is catching up with him and he finds it necessary to walk with a cane. He has been living in a basement apartment – this man who could have lived in a magnificent home – and will soon be moving into his daughter’s family’s home.
Is he sad? Is he filled with regrets? Of course, he misses his beloved wife, but he is filled with joy and gratitude. He is thankful to God for his wife’s peaceful death, thankful for all that he has, for his daughter and son-in-law and their love.
I wrote Bob recently to thank him: “The way you have endured your loss, the joy that you have, and the hope that flows from you have set an example for me. You’ve maintained a great sense of humor but also a tender sense of the Lord’s goodness. May the move to [the home of his daughter and son-in-law] be a great blessing and joy, as well as a new adventure in God’s grace.”
I want to be like Bob. I want to be an encouragement to other people to live all out for God. I want to model joy even in sorrow, contentment even in a basement apartment, and a positive outlook on the future, even when the shadow of death lies across my door. I want to be like Bob.
That’s because I want to be like Jesus.