A Final Status Update

The following showed up in my Facebook news feed this morning. And it made me sad:

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For most of you, that means little. For me, it meant the passing of another one of those faithful models whose lives have kept mine true. I don’t know where I would be if God had not brought my life and his together some 35 years ago.

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I was a sophomore at Michigan State University and though a Christian, I had tried to live my Christian life without the support of others. It wasn’t working and so a fellow student drug me to some meetings of the campus ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ, and my world began to expand.

During one of those meetings there was a special speaker, a visiting professor of geography named Reuben Brooks. Lee, my friend, and I were strangely moved by the prospect of having a professor who also served Jesus. I’m sure there were many on such a large campus. But we knew none.

Soon, Lee and I registered for a class with Dr. Brooks. We had no special interest in geography, no need to fill out our transcript with such a class, no vision of the class’s usefulness. We just wanted to take a class with a Christian professor.

The end of my sophomore year found me still wrestling with choosing a major, and so Lee and I scheduled a time to visit with Dr. Brooks in his office. The counsel received from him was wise and directive, and played a role in the choices eventually made, but that is not what made this visit so momentous.

In the course of that conversation, I asked Dr. Brooks what was the most significant book he had ever read. I don’t know what made me ask that question. I cannot remember ever asking that of anyone else. Dr. Brooks did not hesitate a moment with his answer: “Knowing God by J. I. Packer.” I soon bought it (at a bookstore – remember those?) and read it carefully. My view of God, my appreciation of His care, my comfort in Him, all were matured, strengthened, and deepened by this book.

This was significant in my life, but I never saw Dr. Brooks again. Subsequent to that, many years passed. I told a number of people of the significance of Knowing God in my life, and how I came to first be aware of it. But over time I even forgot the professor’s name. For thirty years.

Then, one day, for no apparent reason, his name came to mind. I did an internet search and found him at a university in Nashville, TN. I was able to email Dr. Brooks, and that initiated a regular correspondence. Eventually, we were able to meet again, have lunch, and catch up with one another. That was a delight, and we have stayed in touch for as long as he has been able.

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I’ve often said that the book was how Dr. Brooks changed my life forever. But as I’ve reflected on the nature of influence, I’m not sure I am correct.

Early in our correspondence, I was shocked and humbled to have Dr. Brooks tell me this:

“I’ve made it a habit, Randy, to pray for you every weekday, at least.”

This man whom I have not seen for thirty years was committed to praying for me EVERY WEEKDAY. Was it the book that changed my life? I can never measure the impact of those prayers.

What will I now do without those prayers? I must leave it to God to raise up others. For now, he has taken to Himself a man who delighted in serving Him. Delighted in that. I would be thrilled to have half the delight, faithfulness, and love for Jesus as Reuben Brooks. May he find joy in the Lord he loves.

3 thoughts on “A Final Status Update

  1. Faith Brooks De La Cour

    Thanks so much for sharing this about the impact our Dad had on your life. We can attest that he prayed not only for you but for many people. The last gathering we had as a family, almost two weeks ago, we asked Dad to tell our children what his prayers were for them. What a blessing to have been able to hear that. Two days later he was unable to communicate clearly.

    Maybe you will be the one to carry that praying torch for others?

  2. Randy Greenwald

    Faith, that is the challenge, really, isn’t it. I can attest that my prayers are more faithful for more people now because of his and others’ testimony.

    Thanks for your comment and your challenge!

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