Ed worked for many years as a night watchman at VUMAC, a United Methodist conference center in Blackstone, Virginia. Several years ago, he opened “The Acorn,” a coffee shop inside the same building. “The Acorn provides good coffee, snacks, books and other products. While there you can relax and read a newspaper, watch the news or an occasional sporting event. I make it a priority to visit The Acorn several times each day while I’m there. I do like the coffee but I really enjoy talking to Ed.
Recently, I was at VUMAC for a minister’s conference. As much as I appreciated the teaching and the worship at the conference, the real story and inspiration for me, came inside The Acorn from Ed.
First, Ed pulled me aside to tell me that he is struggling with cancer. He received a new diagnosis that the cancer was upgraded from stage two to stage three. The chemo treatments were getting intense, and he was struggling to be at the coffee shop every day.
Together in the coffee shop, we held hands and prayed for God to give Ed comfort and strength for what lies ahead. Afterward, with a trace of tears in his eyes, Ed talked about God restoring his life and family. In the midst of illness, he continued to receive encouragement from his church, family and friends. “I cried, when I heard the news,” he admitted. “But my family and I have been richly blessed.”
On the last day of the conference, Ed called me over, handed me a one hundred dollar bill and said, “Larry, please give this to the people in charge, to become a part of their offering.”
“Ed, what a generous gift. Thank you. But why?”
I will never forget his reply: “I always give a portion of whatever I make back to God. I made $400 this week, so I want to give $100 back.”
How can a person battling cancer persevere with such a generous spirit?
Paul wrote about the witness of people like Ed: “Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.” (Galatians 6:7-10)
Here is what I learned:
- Don’t be misled – you can’t mock the justice of God.
- You will harvest what you plant.
- Live to satisfy your sinful nature you will harvest decay and death.
- Live to please God, you will harvest everlasting life.
- So, don’t tire of doing good. Don’t give up.
- Therefore, do good for everyone whenever you have the opportunity.
I enjoyed the minister’s conference and received valuable information but the greatest lesson of all came from a kind, good-hearted soul named Ed who taught me the true meaning of faith and generosity. Ed understood what Paul meant to live to please God, to never tire of doing good, to never give up.
“Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone – especially to those in the family of faith.”
So, say a prayer for Ed and his family. And, if you are ever at VUMAC in Blackstone, Virginia, stop by The Acorn, ask for a cup of coffee and tell Ed, “Larry sent you.”