Monday, February 5, 2018

Goodbye Art

Art and I ready to head out a few months back.
Last Thursday morning I got word that my friend and Good Samaritan Cycling Team volunteer Art Baker died. While Art had some significant health issues it was a not a phone call I was expecting in the least, and, if you've gotten those sorts of calls before, it takes a few minutes before the reality of it even really hits you.

Art loved Jesus and he loved people. He had a big heart, and he was one of the humblest men I've ever met. Art was always willing to help you if it was at all possible, and Art was one of the few people who I've seen treat desperately poor and homeless people as if they were his friends and family, in a totally natural way. The way he interacted with and spoke of the people who we served through GSCT was truly beautiful; it was as if Art had known them his whole life. Watching him serve and love them was a blessing to me. 

Art was a fighter. During the years I knew him he fought desperately against alcoholism, depression, anxiety, and a host of issues from his past. When I worked at EUMC (where he was a member and volunteer) he and I would drink coffee and talk about God and life and grief, and I watched him fight day after day with all his might to keep moving forward.

My deepest hope for Art was for him to conquer those demons in this life, and to live in the freedom God desired for him. He didn't quite make it there. But I'm proud of Art. You see, as a distance runner, I know that in some runs and races you don't get to cross the line triumphantly. In some races things don't go according to plan: you get hurt, dehydrated, demoralized, the weather gets you, you're sick... many things can go wrong. In these moments the goal is not a triumphant sprint to the line and a victory lap, but simply to limp to the finish line.

Life as a disciple of Jesus, in this regard, is often similar to running. As Debra Hirsch says, many of us will limp into heaven. In this life we will carry wounds, scars, trauma, flaws, and God knows what else all the way to the end. The key then is not about how fast we run or how pretty our stride is. The key is to simply keep moving- keep limping- until we cross that line.

Art Baker never stopped, and I'm proud and I'm thankful I got to share some of my race with him.

Philippians 3:12-14
Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.
Until that Day, goodbye Art, you will be dearly missed!

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