– Proverbs 22:1
I remember a trip to the hardware store with my Grandpa when I was around 9 years old. Something had broken at the house that needed an immediate repair, and while he was very good at putting something together out of nothing, this was a fix that actually needed new parts.
When we got to the register, Grandpa asked if the owner was there. When Gene came out, Grandpa explained that he needed the stuff on the counter, but he didn’t have money to pay for it until his social security check came on Friday. I remember that Gene didn’t even hesitate when he said, “Milo, if there was one person I would trust around here to come back in to pay a bill, it would be you.” That really stuck in my head. My Grandpa was that trusted by a local businessman!
Fast forward about 20 years. I am living in my Grandpa’s house now, and something breaks. I too have gotten pretty good at fixing things out of nothing, but this was beyond my abilities. With about 15 minutes to close, I run into the same hardware store to grab what I needed. I sat it on the counter and reached for my wallet – I had left it at home. I needed these parts for us to have water in the house that night.
The owner happened to be standing there at the counter, and I remembered that trip to town with Grandpa when I was a kid. I never realized how humbling that had been for Grandpa until the moment I had to ask if I could come back tomorrow with the money since I would not be able to go home and get back with my wallet before close. It was hard!
Gene looked at me and said,”You’re Mike Tanner’s boy, right?” I told him I was, and he smiled and said, “Not a problem. Nothing to worry about. You know, your Grandpa was one of the most honest men I have ever known.”
Wow. Just plain wow!
This morning I read Genesis 47 and was struck by the verses below:
Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Your father and your brothers have come to you. The land of Egypt is before you. Settle your father and your brothers in the best of the land. Let them settle in the land of Goshen, and if you know any able men among them, put them in charge of my livestock.”
– Genesis 47:5-6
I got thinking, “What did Pharaoh know about Joseph’s family? Did he know that the brothers had a plan to leave him for dead? Did he know that they sold him into slavery? Did he know they hated his guts when they were younger? Maybe some of it. I’m sure the topic had come up at some point when they were talking about how Joseph came to be in Egypt.
What amazes me is that he gives Joseph’s family the finest land and jobs taking care of his livestock. I know that the Egyptians though tending stock was a horrible job (I have three horses and find that point hard to argue some days), but it was important – especially in a time of drought. Why would he give them this much honor, responsibility, and favor in providing them such a great place to live?
He knew Joseph, and that was all he really needed to know. Imagine that. Imagine being given so much just because of who you know. That is what I received. I benefited from the reputation that my Grandpa had, and that my Dad maintained. The family name stood for honesty as far as that man was concerned.
A person living a Relentless Life is not just concerned with their earthly name, but their heavenly reputation as well. We make mistakes, but we are called to walk worthy of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Worthy of carrying the message of God’s merciful, gracious, unconditional love. That can seem like a tall order, but we aren’t asked to be perfect. We are asked to submit to the process.
By the way, the McLean’s Do-It Best Hardware in Kalkaska is alive and well, expanding its offerings to our community, and Gene’s kids are running it with the same values that he had in taking care of the people that walk through their doors every day. They are living out his legacy before his eyes, and it is good to see!