If you have read these Happy Monday’s the last two years, you have a sense of how much I love my brother. I asked God for him when I was little and had lost my sister Gloria, and God answered them with my Neil. Like every brother and sister, we have had our ups and downs, but the bottom line is that for the 49 years I have known my brother I have loved him with all my heart and thanked God for the man he is. As I sit here, I send a prayer heavenward for him and his. The small voice in my heart, tells me a truth. My brother is a good example of human grace; the kind of grace that means “unmerited favor”, the earthly kind that can point you to the perfect grace that Christ offers. You see, my brother doesn’t own me anything, but for reasons that have all to do with the kind of man God made him, he gives to me unselfishly. Let me explain.
All this work on the farm, that piece of property God has lent us for a time, well it’s a sure bet that without Neil we would not be as far along as we are to make it habitable. I could go so far as to say that it’s a sure bet we wouldn’t even have known how to do a tenth of what we have accomplished. It’s completely certain that what we have done would have required ten’s of thousands of dollars rather than the several hundred we have spent. Only with Neil’s imagination and grit would we have even considered jacking a house to level. With confidence, we old people have followed his orders and instruction, his working vision, in lockstep, certain that success was ours because Neil knows how to adjust when a first plan doesn’t work.
This weekend when I was struggling with removal of an old hinge on a door facing that no longer bore the weight of a door in that old farm house, Neil gently came up to me and asked me if I wanted some help. My arms ached from trying to turn imbedded screws, cemented into the hinge by decades of paint, and on the verge of tears of frustration, I shook my head yes. With arms and sinewy muscles that bring back memories of my dad and Jake’s arms, Neil took the hammer and flathead screwdriver from my hand. I looked over his shoulder and watched as he delicately placed the screwdriver along the faint line of indention in the screw and with skill but power hammered the fine slot clean of paint. Positioning the screwdriver in the now more visible slot, he hammered until flakes of paint fell away from the head of screw, exposing its outline. Free from years of paint, the screw turned easily, and he handed me the screwdriver. “I have done a lot of these working on old cars, you learn things, Janet.” Yeah, you do Neil, I think to myself and my heart swells with thanks about those answered prayers a long, long time ago, when I asked God for a brother.
I hope you come and see that old farmhouse, because you will do what others have done. You will ask me, “How does your brother know how to do all this?” And I will know what to answer you because although I never even considered how unusual it was to have all this expertise, that inevitable question jogged my unquestioned acceptance of his skills and expertise. He can do it because he is willing to try and he is willing to think. Part of that skill came from our dad and mother, the genes and environment we grew up in it, but some of it just who God made him. The more times he has failed and fallen short, he took those setbacks and learned something from them, growing his confidence and knowledge. But I have seen the signs of humility as well. Humility, because as we have gotten older and life has happened, you have to recognize that as much as you might not want it to be true, we humans are really in control of very little. Included in Neil’s growing wisdom is that reality. There is a lot of value in being with someone whose wisdom provides for failures as lessons learned on the road to success. If you have a brother that can teach you that as well as how to plumb, and electrify, and restore and old house’s floors and soffets, fireplace and double hung sash windows, well that just how blessed can you count yourself? If on top of that, that brother also can tell you that the day he spent with you and your mother and your husband is a precious memory and that the companionship you shared will paint the walls of our collective hearts for another day, if his family has graciously lent him to us for a month of weekends, well then let me say yet again, just how blessed can one person be.
Should you ever find yourself on a plane and over the intercom a voice tells you, “This is your captain, Neil Huddle, welcome to …..”. Count yourself lucky that day. You are in the capable hands of a pilot who at all costs will take care of you, whose hands are capable of understanding the wiring of an old farm house and the complexities of the flying machine you are seated in, and most of all, has the humility to understand that as humans we have our limitations and pride has no place in most decisions we make. Enjoy your ride.
Bible verse: All of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble (1 Pet. 3:6).