Before you think it disrespectful, Fred thought it was hilarious. For those of you who have heard me preach over the years, you’ve likely heard “My Dumb Ol’ Brother Fred” stories. Yesterday was the anniversary of his birth. The youngest of 4 brothers, Fred was the big one… 24″ long and 12 lbs. The story is that my mother decided she wasn’t going to try for a little girl after he was born. Enough was enough, and Fred was enough for anyone.
Fred was always looking for an adventure. Hunting, fishing, beaches, trips… Perhaps more famous were Fred’s great deals. Fred always knew a guy… Someone who had an old motorcycle that was the deal of a lifetime. He would find paint deals, carpet deals, landscaping deals… if you had a project, Fred knew a guy.
Fred was a carpet layer by trade… any kind of flooring, but he liked carpet. He traveled all over the United States installing flooring for Sears stores in particular, but any “mall” was likely to be impacted by Fred and Fox Flooring. Whichever of his brothers who were in the area, you were likely to be put to work. We helped Fred because the quicker he got done, the sooner the fun began. Fred worked hard, but he played harder.
Even when we were little. We went fishing one early spring day. Herb Sands and my father took us four boys and Herb’s daughter Marcia out fishing on a private lake. We were in row boats, two of them. The kids were rowing and relishing getting the fathers wet. There was a dock that Fred was fishing from, and dad had my brothers row over to pick up Fred.
The short version of the story is, Fred left his rod on the dock after getting in the boat. As dad leaned over to reach it, Fred yelled “Shove off” and shoved his oar against the dock. Dad was over extended, his feet hooked in the boat and his hand on the dock, clutching the fishing pole. Fred was shoving for all he was worth, my dad’s big belly quickly getting wetter and wetter.
Herb, in our boat said, “You boys need to get us over there to save your dad.” But Herb was laughing so hard that he could barely contain himself. In my mind’s eye I will always remember Fred yelling “shove off” while the water was lapping at my father’s belly and the boat threatened to capsize.
Fred lived his life always ready to yell “Shove off,” regardless of consequences. He wanted to embrace the opportunities.
Embracing opportunities is a challenge for each of us. Paul and Silas, Barnabas, Timothy, and a host of others were driven by their passion to tell the story of Jesus. It is not as though others were not as passionate, James the brother of Jesus remained in Jerusalem, one of the shepherds of the flock found there. Risking his own reputation, taking an unpopular viewpoint in the minds of his Jewish colleagues to embrace the influx of Gentile converts.
At times, no doubt, the enthusiasm of one created crisis for others. Peter and Paul experienced conflict as recorded in Galatians, over the broader, generally more inclusive message of Paul to Gentiles while Peter’s focus was usually on the Jewish people. Peter had things to learn, as we all do, in setting aside old points of view and embracing what God had brought forth.
So how do you, as a Fred, move forward in boldness, while being aware of the concerns of others? A failure to do so creates conflict in our relationships, something my brother Fred and I discussed on more than one occasion.
How do you, if you are of the more cautious mindset, leave room for the boldness of others? How do you carefully weigh the less important things to embrace the new opportunities discovered by others?
I am reminded of a quote by Daniel Boorstin, from his The Discoverers, 1983. It is, “The greatest enemy of discovery, are the disciples of discoverers.” We want to always keep in check our traditional comforts, so as not to exclude new, important adventures.
May God grant you grace and peace as you explore the grandeur of his creation, both here and in the future.