Sunday, April 16, 2017
He Wore the Crown well
A Tribute to Keith Gray
By Rick Blumenberg /
A good man died last week. Keith Gray’s death was a great loss to family and friends because he was a godly man who had blessed our lives with friendliness, kindness, a ready helping hand, and a quiet, but ready smile. Keith Gray was a perfect illustration of verse four of Psalm 103 which tells how God crowns his people with loving-kindness and compassion.
Carol and I became friends with Keith and Juanita Gray back in the 1960s when we were in the same Sunday School class at Alexandria (IN) Church of God. We were students at Anderson College and they were public school teachers. Their warm welcome to us made us feel at home and welcome. We didn’t know their children well and had no idea how closely our lives would be intertwined until their son Mike and our daughter Kathy met in college, fell in love, married, and gave us four awesome grandchildren that we shared with much mutual enjoyment.
Years ago a writer coined a phrase when he wrote about how most men live out their lives in quiet desperation. Keith was not that kind of man. In fact, a few years ago I wrote in my blog about the introverts among us who never want to be up front, never make much commotion, but serve quietly in the background living lives of quiet inspiration. Keith was that kind of man.
Because of his deep faith in God, when Keith was drafted into the Korean War he did not want to carry a gun and fight, but he wanted to do his part, so he served as a medic, risking his own life to save others who were wounded in battle. He returned home and became a teacher where he quietly taught young men in shop class how to work with their hands and support their families by making useful and beautiful things. At the same time he was molding their character by living out and modeling a life of quiet manliness, gentleness and encouragement.
Keith’s death was a great loss to those of us who loved him—especially his family. But he lived his life well as a devoted husband to Juanita, and a loving father, grandfather and great-grandfather. He was a well-known and beloved shop teacher in the Alexandria, Indiana school system. He was not an ostentatious man and would never willingly wear a crown (unless one of his grandchildren asked him to). He served God faithfully and lived a life of quiet inspiration—a life of service to God and mankind—crowned with loving-kindness and compassion.
The Psalmist also wrote “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints” (115:15). To us it is a death, but to God it is a homecoming and the close of a successful life of service in a far country. It is something all God’s people should look forward to with anticipation. So, we’ll see you later Keith. And in the meantime, I know Juanita looks at this event from God’s point of view and I’m sure your arrival was a precious thing to her and she was there to give you a warm “Welcome home”!
I’m Rick Blumenberg and that’s “My View from Tanner Creek.”