Saturday, June 20, 2015

A Long Walk with Ed


 A Long Walk with Ed

 




God moves in many ways that are unknown to us, and rarely do we understand why our lives are directed down the paths He leads us on. I am thankful that I made the right decisions to follow where He has led me.

After three years of working at a great company, a regional specialist position became available. Everyone said that I had not been with the company long enough to qualify for the position; it was too large of a pay jump at a time when there was a wage freeze. Knowing there was no hope of getting the position, I applied for the job anyway. One by one the people in line for the position turned it down; some held out for promised supervisor jobs, while others were not interested in the teaching and traveling required by the position. Miraculously, I got the promotion.  

I traded my workbench for a desk in a small office shared by five people. Located at the bottom of stairs, our office was adjacent to both the regional office and a classroom where I conducted classes. The area was collectively referred to as “The Pit.” Larry, Bob, Ed and I spent many hours on the phone helping co-workers solve equipment problems and overcome factors beyond our control. Our supervisor, Jack, sat at one end of the office. I had been interviewed by Jack three years earlier when I first came to work for the company. I was surprised now to find myself working for him, a leader who was always there to help when called upon, yet who let us do our jobs without interference.

The five of us worked closely together in those cramped quarters. With all calls overheard by everyone else, there were no secrets. Ed’s desk was directly across from mine. He oversaw the computer output microfilming equipment, and I oversaw the smaller microfilming equipment. We were cross-trained in each other’s line of equipment and backed each other up, taking calls when the other was unavailable. Larry and Bob worked the same way in the photo finishing side of the business. There were only six regions within the company, six small groups consisting of four specialists, each supporting company equipment lines. We were often referred to as prima donnas and envied because of our positions.

Ed and I grew close and began to share with each other about our lives, not only work-related stories, but personal experiences as well. He had immigrated to America from Germany after the Second World War. His family was trying to start a new life in a new country. Now he was well educated and had a job that paid well and provided great benefits. He was married to Bev and had two lovely children, and he was living the American dream.

When Ed first invited my wife Kathy and I over for dinner, Kathy and Bev hit it off from the start. On the way home that evening, Kathy said, “You won’t believe what Bev told me.”

“What was that?”

“She could not believe that Ed had brought Christians into their home. She has been praying a long time that Ed would meet and become friends with Christians.”

“That is unbelievable,” I said. “Ed has never shown any distaste for Christians.”

“When Ed stepped out to check on the BBQ,” Kathy said, “Bev whispered it to me, scared he would return and hear her. She begged me not to say a word. She told me that he does not allow a Bible in the house, and he once threw her Bible into the fireplace! He doesn’t want anything to do with Christians, and she has to be careful not to bring up the subject. So she’s been praying that someone else could reach him.”

Months later on a long road trip, I felt led to share with Ed how Jesus came into my life and how he watched over me from that young age of twelve. I never slowed down, and Ed never said a word, staring at the road as though he was not listening.

The years rolled by, and the subject was not brought up again. Ed divorced Bev, remarried, and moved to a remote area of north Georgia. We continued to work together and remained close friends.

Ed was always very athletic, jogging every day, golfing on weekends, and watching his diet. One day at lunch he said to me, “Hubert, have you ever read the label on these pink sweetener packages?”

“No, I never use them. I gave up on sweeteners for coffee and tea years ago, along with sodas,” I replied.

“It says, ‘Caution: This product has caused cancer in rats.’ I have been using this for years!”

Ed became sick later that year and went under the knife for exploratory surgery to find the cause of the problems. Cancer had already spread throughout his body; they could do nothing but close him back up. The doctors told him that they could give him one good year.

About six months later I received a phone call from Ed. “Hubert, could you do me a favor? I would like a Bible, and could we talk?”

In total shock, I agreed to meet him. On the way to his house, I stopped by the Christian bookstore and picked up a Bible.

He met me at the door and asked if I would walk with him. Leaving his house, we walked together along the dirt path winding quietly through the woods. I had the feeling that Ed had walked it many times before, and I felt honored that he asked me to join him in his special place to think and meditate.

“Hubert, I am sorry that I could not come to you first,” he finally said, “but I promised my golfing partner that if I ever gave my life to Christ, that I would come to him first. I have golfed with that preacher for years, but he never condemned me or preached to me. When I found out that I only had one year to live, I let him lead me to accept Jesus.

“I want to tell you something that I have never shared with anyone before,” he said. “Shortly after we moved to America, I overheard our priest talking to my dad about giving tithes to the church. I knew how hard we had it, barely making ends meet, sometimes not even having food on the table. I listened to him give my dad grief over not giving money to the church. It just turned me off; I wanted nothing to do with Christianity.” His voice changed as he continued. “But what I cannot understand is how God can forgive me, now that I have turned to him here at the end of my life.”

Ed knew his Bible from attending a Christian school and being taught by his parents, yet it was hard for him to accept and understand that just a few words could wipe away all the guilt of the many times he had rejected God.

I did not have to say much on that long walk, so I just listened. God had done it all: placing me and other Christians on the job with Ed, giving him a discerning preacher for a golfing partner, and even providing the daily witness and prayers of a loving Christian wife—even his second wife was a Christian!

When Ed’s time on earth came to a close, Kathy and I were by his side. As Kathy knelt by Ed’s bed and prayed, he told us that he could see angels standing around the room, ready to help him on his flight to heaven. A smile spread across his face as we had the pleasure of watching him go home to be with Jesus.
 



Copyright © 2015 Hubert Clark Crowell
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