Sunday, November 12, 2006

Adventures with My Best Friend

My Best Friend, Bob Hilderman, was my pastor in the late 60s. That’s when we first met in Tucson, Arizona. Not long after that, he took his family to Window Rock, Arizona where he preached and taught the Bible to First Americans on the Navajo Indian Reservation.

Despite the many miles between us, and despite our numerous addresses over the years, Pastor Hilderman and I bonded, bonded, bonded. Never a month went by that we didn’t communicate. Sometime oftener. He held and kissed our infant children and one day he conducted my son’s wedding. How many times did he pray with uson the phone and in letters? We are best friends.

He taught me one thing I will always remember: “The future is as bright as the promises of God.” This from a faithful man who suffered more sick pain than anybody I ever heard of. This from a faithful man whose ministry calling was among the most difficult people on earth. This from a faithful man who ministers where the spotlights don't shine. “The future is as bright as the promises of God.”

And he could play the saxophone, I tell you. Whoo-eee! “Get down!” He only played hymns with it. That is, until he got real sick. It broke his heart that he couldn’t play anymore. Then last month he had a stroke. I got to talk to him last Tuesday and he recognized my voice. We talked and he kept saying, “…even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus.” I prayed that, too, because I know how much pain he was dealing with.

On Saturday night, My First Wife and I went to a Chinese restaurant. The piped-in music was old hymns! Played on a saxophone! (There's an oxymoron for you: Christian music in a Chinese Restaurant.)

“Hey, listen to that music!” I said.

“Neat!” My First Wife said with a smile.

“Reminds me of Pastor Hilderman,” I said.

“You know what?” she said. “I had a feeling this afternoon that he finally died.”

“Hmmm. I wonder if this is the Lord’s way of telling us he’s playing in heaven right now,” I suggested.

When we got home, My First Wife called Pastor Hilderman’s wife.

See that happy, pain-free guy playing first chair saxophone in heaven’s orchestra? That's My Best Friend, Pastor Hilderman.

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