Just some early morning thoughts from me to you…
“I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” John 10: 9-10 (NKJV)
When he retired after a successful engineering career, he could have chosen to do most anything he wanted to do. He chose to be homeless.
Richard Leroy Walters served in the United States Marine Corps during the Korean War. He went on to become an honors graduate from Purdue University in mechanical engineering, and then earn a Masters degree in teaching from Ball State University. He never married, had no children and no other family with whom he stayed in touch.
When he retired from his career he gave up his home, car and everything else he owned in exchange for sleeping on the floor of the Mission of Mercy homeless shelter in Phoenix, Arizona. And some time later, when he died of a stroke at age seventy-six—suffering also from diabetes and high blood pressure—he left an estate valued at four million dollars to various charities including the Mission of Mercy shelter.
He decided, while all alone in life, that he didn’t need the material things of life to live each day. No one knows for certain, but you can’t help but speculate if at some point in his life he asked the question—“How much is enough?” And then he seemed to answer the question for his life by choosing what to many of us might seem an extreme alternative—to be homeless. It’s a question which no doubt has crossed our minds at times in the midst of the indulgence and affluence in a world which at the same time lays claim to some of the darkest, deepest places of despair.
He was also a self-described atheist. And you can’t help but wonder if seeing a world with places of abundance adjacent to so many places of want and need, might have moved him to not only abandon the world and its ways, but God and the “abundant life” He promises. But by abandoning God, he abandoned the only One Who offers the lasting answer and hope available to the world—and each one of us—for now and forever.
We might learn something from the life of Richard Walters. A few lessons for our lives for today and tomorrow. For whatever the reasons which caused him to cash in all he had in exchange for sleeping on the floor of the homeless shelter, we are in some ways reminded by that act, that happiness in life—an abundant life—does not come from the material and transient things of the world. It is not derived from what the world marks as important—money, resumes, position, power, awards, degrees and things. Because if an “abundant life” is defined within our lives by those things, we will never be satisfied—there will never be enough.
But there’s a second lesson we might also learn from the life of Richard Walters. It’s a lesson which apparently he never learned. Simply then, that as an “abundant life” is not defined by the world and its things; it is defined by the Divine gift of eternal life, a gift which becomes the possession of everyone who believes in Jesus Christ, both now and for all eternity. That’s the “abundant life”—the gift from God—which Christ talks about in the passage in the Gospel of John, above.
Stop for a moment and think about that—the gift that is a guarantee of life with Him for all eternity. No, stop for a moment! Think about that! That is, with that eternal gift, after we draw our last breath here on earth—we are forever guaranteed that an “abundant life” in and with Christ will continue forever for all who believe by faith in Him. When we stop to think about that—why would we choose any other option? Why would we not do what we needed to do—today—to obtain that gift of the assurance of an abundant eternal life with God?
Richard Leroy Walters. From every life we find eternal reminders and lessons for the living of ours.
An abundant life is not found in the things of the world.
An abundant life is found in a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
Just a couple of reminders for each of us to think about today, tomorrow and every day for all eternity.
In His Name—Scott
Copyright 2009. Scott L. Whitaker. All rights reserved.