So, last night I had the opportunity to see a legend. Seriously, you may have never heard of Bob Boardman, but ever since I heard him speak at our bible study last year he and his wife, Jean were stuck in my mind and there they have stayed.
Reasons for Sticking:
First of all, I want to grow up and be just like this couple. The thing that struck me as beyond remarkable is that here was a couple who are in their mid80s and here was Bob causally mentioning that he'd been "meaning" to come down and speak to our little bible study ever since it got started, but that he and Jean had been doing nonstop missions work all year and had just had the chance to make it down.... This was all said very apologetically, of course. And here was someone who for all intents and purposes should be "retired"!!! They were doing far more than I can HOPE to do for the Kingdom of God!
The first thing you'll notice about Bob is that he speaks in a horse whisper. This is due to injuries that he received at the Battle of Okinawa in WWII ( he also lost his trigger finger...) and the second thing you'll notice about Bob is how much he loves the Lord and thirdly how much he loves his wife. Pretty good order :-)
Anyway, the first time I heard him speak he talked a little bit about his life story, and while it was well over a year ago and therefore I've probably mixed up my facts.... the thing I can make note of is that while he was injured at Okinawa, Japan, after he joined the Navigators he and his wife went back to Japan as missionaries ( they were actually married in Tokyo). Pretty amazing. Here was couple who have truly given their lives to God's work and have NOT SLOWED DOWN.
Brett and I both went away from that bible study, struck by the desire to live a life such as these....to be so outwardly focused that you hardly notice the years go by....
This past week we found out through Navigator links that Bob had been diagnosed with Stage Four cancer...and that on Monday night he would be giving his final sermon.
This I was NOT going to miss!
After recieving a "death sentence" only two weeks before- hundreds of people gathered to celebrate this mans life-Americans, many of them ex-WWII Marines, Japanese, and Koreans all gathered together, all had obviously been touched by these two lives.... it was really amazing to see such an outpouring in such a short amount of time, so many people traveling from out of town to come be a part of this night.
Bob and his wife Jean both spoke and I took lots of notes-but here are some things I'll share here-just so I won't forget. Hopefully not ever. And may one day I go out in such style!
Bob said that after hearing this news that he had stage four cancer he'd had a lot of time to think, and he thought the most at night-"Your greatest fears come up at night...and my greatest fear is that God's going to heal me!"
He then introduced his wife, saying ever so sweetly that after 56 years of marriage, if he had to do life all over-he'd still choose her. ( awwwwww!)
She shared that their motto through their life together had been:
By God's Grace and For God's Glory
( if there was ever anything worthy of being embroidered on a pillow, if I knew how, THAT would be something worth embroidering!)
And then she shared the verse she was resting on during this difficult time,
"They do not fear bad news;
they confidently trust the Lord to care for them.
They are confident and fearless
and can face their foes triumphantly.
Honestly, that showed so much more than just a few words could express....I think about the idea of loosing Brett, after only having in my life for a few years, and then imagining a life without him if I'd been with him for FIFTY! How much harder it would be to let go. Yet, to have that kind of faith and love for her Lord....She ended her little talk with this heartbreaking remark:
God gave him to me, and now I'm giving him back.
Now, I wish I could some how recreate exactly what Bob shared, he speaks in oneliners so its really hard to paraphrase this man, but above all I was struck by his Love for his Lord, his Hope in the future that He had in Christ and by his Desire that others know this One that He loved so much....
Now, obviously, its not very time efficient to have to be a Christian for 65 years to prove that God is real, just because you're devoted to something that Long.....but I was very much struck by the reality of this man's relationship with his Savior. He said that he'd read the Old Testament over 55 times ( at least from when he started counting!) and he'd read the new testament over 120 times! He said that he reads enough each day to, "Transfer him into another realm, otherwise this world will break you down. But His Word takes you into the kingdom of God, the kingdom where the Lord Jesus is....The word of God has the power of the Holy Spirit which can bring about good relationships, keep us from going on tangents, and having conflicts.....the Word of God brings about repentance, forgiveness and keeps the conscience clear..."
He also shared about how the Word of God brings us to the Presence of Jesus, which brought him to tears, he then recounted a story from his time in the military, of experiencing the presence of God so tangibly that he actually reached out to touch Him, little did he know that these wonderful experiences with Jesus would soon be followed by the "valley of the shadow of death", and that the Lord was truly preparing him for his experience at Okinawa....This brought him to his final thoughts which were of the great delight of getting to finally meet Jesus.
And then in his horse whisper he finished with, " If I could sing, I would sing the song, "I can only Imagine"
An my only thought was that one day, very soon Bob Boardman is going to be able to sing again....
I can only imagine
What it will be like
When I walk
By your side
I can only imagine
What my eyes will see
When your face
Is before me
I can only imagine