Richard Exley Ministries

Kodiak Moments
Posted on March 30, 2009

She performs even the most menial task with a grace that transforms it into an act of love. Her tireless efforts make Dad’s last days not only bearable, but blessed. Truly she is a sister to be proud of!

Return with me one final time to the three questions that the psychiatrist asks each of his new clients. 1) What is the worst thing you have ever done? 2) What is the worst thing that ever happened to you? 3) What is the proudest moment of your life? Since we’ve already addressed the first two questions in previous blogs let’s turn our attention to the final question: “What is the proudest moment of your life?”

When I think of my proudest moment several memories come to mind. I call them, “Kodiak Moments.” In the first, it is Christmas season and I see Brenda (my wife) standing in the check-out line at the Walmart in Fayetteville, Arkansas. She greets the woman in front of her – an elderly lady of indiscriminate age, attired in stylish but well worn clothes – and they chit chat as they work their way toward the cash register. In a moment of vulnerability the lady confides to Brenda. “I hope I’ve added right. I only have $15 and I’m afraid my groceries will come to more than that.”

Nervously, she places her few items on the check-out counter and clutches her purse. Catching the checker’s eye, Brenda tells her to put the lady’s groceries on her bill. Surprised and touched, the elderly lady protests, “You needn’t do that honey. I can manage. If you want to help someone give that money to a homeless shelter. Or maybe buy some homeless person a cup of coffee.” Despite her objections, Brenda insists on paying for her groceries and as she shuffles into the night, both Brenda and the checker dab at their eyes. Now as far as I’m concerned that’s the real Christmas spirit and truly a moment to be proud of!

In the second, it is late spring, 1992. Our entire family – parents, siblings, spouses and children – have journeyed to Austin, Texas, where we attend the commencement exercises for the University of Texas. The graduation ceremony is tedious for the most part, and the afternoon drags on. Finally the PhD candidates are called. One by one they receive their degrees and are hooded. Finally I hear them call, “Robert James Exley.” My chest swells with pride as I watch my youngest brother become the first person in our family to earn a Doctorate. Now I am out of my seat and heading for the center aisle where I join him in a joyful embrace. I tell you the absolute truth: I couldn’t have been happier, or prouder for that matter, if I had earned the doctorate myself.

Now another memory comes into focus and I see my sister lying on the bed beside our aged father. The Doctors have given Dad no more than four weeks to live. Rather than put him in a hospice facility, Sherry has taken a leave of absence from her position as the administrative assistant to the President of the company, in order to help mother care for him. Being the youngest child, and the only girl, she and Dad have always had a special relationship, making his imminent death especially difficult for her. Still, she serves without flinching, tucking her sorrow away in some secret place to be dealt with later, when Dad no longer needs her. In the few days I’ve been here, I’ve watched her fluff Dad’s pillow, bring him fresh water, help him turn over to minimize the risk of bed sores, bath him, and even empty his bed pan. Although her heart is breaking, she never complains. She performs even the most menial task with a grace that transforms it into an act of love. Her tireless efforts make Dad’s last days not only bearable, but blessed. Truly she is a sister to be proud of!

Now I see my brother Don preaching to several hundred missionaries in the chapel at Central Bible College in Springfield, Missouri. His anointed words lay bare the hurts and hopes of every missionary present. He is one of them. He understands them as only another missionary can. He’s saying the things they’ve always felt but never been able to put into words. When he finishes his message, I watch in amazement as scores of hurting missionaries fill the altars. God has used him to touch something deep within and many of them will never be the same. Carefully I make my way to the platform where Don is standing. For a moment I just stand there, nearly in awe of the anointing that continues to rest upon him. Finally, I wrap my arms around him and say, “I am so proud to be your brother.”

Indulge me one last time and then I’ll be done. It’s a blustery winter evening as I pull into the parking lot in front of the Barnes and Noble book store in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Through the plate glass window I can see that a crowd has gathered and I feel my heart swell with pride. Our daughter’s first novel has just been released and Barnes and Noble is hosting her first book signing. Picking up my digital camera from the back seat, I make my way toward the front door.

Standing at the edge of the crowd, I shoot several pictures as Leah signs books and banters with those who have come to get their book autographed. She looks dazzling, as does Brenda, who is chatting with several of our friends who have come to help us celebrate. I should join them but I want to savor this moment a minute more. Writing a novel is a major accomplishment. Getting it published an even bigger one. I should know, having written a number of books myself. But in many ways what I have done pales in comparison to what Leah has accomplished. To write “Bunko Babes” she had to battle a chronic and often debilitating illness, while being a wife and the mother of two small children. Still, she did it. Against all odds she wrote a novel and tonight I’m basking in the joy of her moment. My daughter is a published author! 

Why, you may be wondering, do my proudest moments revolve around the achievements of those I love? Before I try to answer that question let me confess that it hasn’t always been that way. In fact, there have been seasons in my life when I was so full of myself that there was no room in my world for anyone else. Still, the Lord refused to give up on me. Patiently He worked with me, chipping away at my self-centered pride. Year, after year, after year, until, at last, something of His likeness began to rub off on me. Now I can truly rejoice with those who rejoice (at least most of the time), even if their achievements dwarf my own, which they almost always do.

And if compliments come my way, I’m always careful to pass them on to the One to whom all glory belongs. It’s a discipline I learned from Corrie ten Boom. When she received a compliment she would say, “Thank you. I’ll put that in my bouquet.” When asked to explain she said, “I think of every compliment as a flower. At the end of the day I arrange them into a bouquet and present them to Jesus.” 

Presenting them to Jesus is truly my proudest moment!

This is Richard Exley straight from the heart.

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Category: Life