By Dr. Michael A. Halleen
“Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1)
Clarence Roddy was an old-time Baptist minister from Maine who taught preaching at Fuller Seminary when I was an undergraduate there 40 years ago. The notes I took in his classes filled no more than two pages in three years, but the inspiration he gave to budding young preachers filled heart after heart. He spoke little about how to prepare and deliver sermons, focusing instead on the person who was doing it. “Preaching is you,” he said—over and over. Patiently, daily, he listened to our struggling beginners’ efforts, always encouraging us to believe that we were gifted to fulfill the marvelous opportunities before us. “There is no higher calling than that which God has given you!” he insisted.
I wondered at his optimism. There was little about myself that I could see to justify it, but I decided to believe him. Being yourself is enough . . . Your way is the best way . . . They expect judgment; give them grace . . . The high road gives the long view . . . No higher calling!
A few years after I left seminary, Roddy died. At his memorial a member of one of his former churches in Maine told this story:
Let me tell you something about Roddy. . . . My wife and I had a son who was institutionalized for many years because of a brain injury. It’s hard to admit, but we had stopped loving him, wife and I. We visited him often, but our feelings for him had begun to die. Then one day when we came to see him, we found Pastor Roddy in our son’s room. He was talking to him—as if our son could hear. He read the Bible to him—as if he could understand. He prayed with our son—as if he could share in the prayer. My first impulse was to say, “Roddy, you fool, don’t you know about our son?” Then it dawned on me. Of course he knew. But he cared for our son as if the boy were whole and well. He saw him through eyes of faith. . . . Roddy renewed in us something we had almost lost, the capacity to love our son.
Then I knew why Roddy had been such an encouragement to so many of his students. He saw us through eyes of faith— sure of what he hoped for each of us and certain of what none of us could yet see. Faith views others not as they are but as they can be. There is no higher calling.
Keep the faith…just not from others.
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