A Man Among Men
A month ago my close friend, my father in law, passed away as I knelt next to him telling him I loved him and praying for him. His wife of 45 years, Paula, was right there confessing her love for her husband, praying and proclaiming her trust in Jesus. Amidst the chaos, her repeated confession of , “We trust you Jesus” was one of the greatest acts of faith I have ever seen. As heart wrenching as that was, and is still, I will be forever grateful that I could be there at that moment.
Jack Himschoot was a man among men. When I asked him for his daughter’s hand in marriage he told me that if I ever laid a hand on her he might not be able to whip me but he was coming with a gun. He meant it. He was the very definition of a “Florida Cracker”, he often wore an 18 inch sheathed knife to church, ran an airboat, could build a swamp buggy and handle a bullwhip a gun and a backhoe. He taught me how to operate an airboat, catch, clean and gig fish and showed me how to catch gators. He showed about any kid that he ever came in contact with how to make a bullwhip, make a bow and arrow out of palm leaves and shoot a potato gun.
Most of all Jack was a Christian. I was honored to be able to speak at his memorial service and as a tribute to him, wanted to share those sentiments here:
Today I have three great passions in my life and Jack was instrumental in the development of each of them.
The # 3 thing on that list, is Fishing. I didn’t grow up fishing and didn’t care anything about it. About 15 years ago Jack came to visit us in Tennessee where we lived on a small, river. When he got there he went straight to WalMart and bought a fishing pole. He and I roamed the banks of the Harpeth River, him fishing, me watching with absolutely no interest in actually fishing myself. When he went back to Florida he left that pole in my garage and that fishing pole sat there for several months. One day I blew the dust off that thing and took it down to the river. I cast it out and immediately got into some Small Mouth Bass and the hook was firmly set in me. I was radically addicted. He later taught me to catch Redfish, drive an airboat and was the motivating factor in pursuing my Captain’s License and starting a charter business.
As a result of Jack’s influence my Dad and my brother are both now radically addicted to fishing although, of course, I catch more and bigger fish than they do. We continue Jack’s fishing evangelism and are working on passing that passion on to my children. Every minute I have spent enjoying time on the water, the fellowship of Ben (his son). my own father, brother and children, is because of Jack and I am grateful.
The #2 great passion in my life is my family. Obviously if it wasn’t for Jack & Paula, there would be no me & Jacquelyn, no Kaitlyn, no Logan Jack Britt, no Cyan and no Jack Vaughn Britt. Yes, we named half of our children after Jack.
Also, he set a high bar as a husband to Paula that Jacquelyn grew up watching. It isn’t easy living up to that expectation and mostly I fail. I am grateful for Jack and Paula and the family they have enabled me to have and for receiving me into their family.
The # 1 passion in my life is my relationship with God. As a brand new Christian I watched Jack and his walk with Christ. Jack was a man’s man who loved the Lord and devoted time to nurturing his relationship with God.
That model, an imperfect, humble man living for Christ, has had a significant impact on my life. The very fact that he was imperfect yet continued to press in and work on his relationship with God is the very thing that speaks the loudest to me. It reassured me that I didn’t have to be perfect to be a Christian. Anyone that knows me well, well knows, how flawed I am. Jack helped me realize that accepting God’s love and asking Jesus to come into my life wasn’t about me being some holier than thou Christian…….it was just about receiving God love, spending time developing my own relationship with God. A natural byproduct of developing my relationship with God is that I am more committed to my family, and those people around me, and less interested, or becoming less interested in chasing after the things that I want, or think I want.
Jack lived his life that way. He walked that example out in front us. He was imperfect but he loved God with his whole heart and he loved those around him as he loved himself. He gave of himself, probably to everyone here and certainly, to many more who are not here.
Moving forward, I feel challenged. Pastor Tommy was sharing yesterday, he said its not about trying harder, its about drawing a line in the sand, about going all in and being committed to what’s important. Jack Himschoot, imperfect and flawed, was committed to what’s important. Today, in front of my family, my Pastor and men in here that are important to me, I commit to follow Jack as he followed Christ and commit myself to what’s important. I challenge these people to hold me accountable.
I ask all of you here today to consider Jacks’ example. Consider what is truly important. Reflect on what these men said here today and consider what it means to you personally. This isn’t about religion…or the church…or churchy things. Its about us, its about our relationship with who created us and our relationship with each other. I pray… that moving forward from …right now …we would all consider those things.
My father in law had a great impact on my life and continues to do so. Men, we will impact other people’s lives, it is up to us how. Will our lives be a benefit to those around us or will our example lead others to loss and destruction. It is up to us and the time to get a hold of that is right now. If we will pattern our lives after Christ’s life and develop a relationship with Him we will impact our families and those around us for generations. If we stumble through life relying on our own plan we are rolling the dice and the cost of losing is astronomical.
Jesus referred to himself as “The Son of Man” dozens of times. He is the very definition of “Man”. Do you believe Him or do you believe some other model of manhood that Hollywood has shown you?