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To Love Your Neighbor…

July 15, 2013

In 1988 after I had been in thoroughly unproductive meeting with some representatives of what was then Bell Atlantic, one the remnants of the break up of A T & T, that now is probably known as Verizon, I was sitting in my window seat on a full flight from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia hoping that that middle seat would not be taken and I would have room to stretch out and do paperwork. At the last minute there was a flurry of activity and three men appeared in the cabin. Two of the men walked past and I breathed a sigh of relief, the next man stopped and politely excused himself and the sat down in the seat next me.

It was a small inconvenience and I knew that I could still get my work done. I had been on hundreds of flights and this was a short one, it wasn’t as if I was sitting the middle seat on a flight from Los Angeles to Philadelphia. I would survive. A positioned myself in preparation for the departure and happened to glance at my traveling companion. He looked familiar. It took only a few moments to realize that it was Fred Rogers.

For those of you too young to have seen his programming on PBS, Fred Rogers was a Presbyterian minister, musician and puppeteer that touched the lives of millions of young children during his television career which started in the mid 1960 and ended in 2000.

I traveled a great deal during my career in sales and valued the time that I had when I was not working. Because of that I was sensitive to how special those moments of quiet really were. Any time I came in contact with a celebrity I made a point of not intruding on their time and space. This time I violated my own rules. I knew my oldest daughter had been a big fan, though she was almost eight years old and was starting to be attracted to other programming. I decided that I would speak to him briefly and introduced myself.

If you have ever had the great fortune to meet anyone that is a true reflection of God’s love you will understand what I felt when he warmly accepted my greeting. He was probably more tired and frustrated with his day then I was, but he was such a kind and compassionate man that I never felt that I was intruding in his private time though I clearly was.

I was an atheist, a non-believer in a God that loves me as He loves every one of us. I sent the next 40 minutes of my life with a man who made me feel like a personal friend. One who cared enough about me to point out the love that I showed for my daughter when I asked him for his autograph. This was a man who shared the death of a friend’s son, who was struck by lightening on a golf course just days before we met. A man who knew God’s message of love your neighbor not as your do yourself but as God loves you.

I wish I could say that I got down on my knees that evening and thanked God for putting Mr. Rogers in my life for that short period of time. I did not. It would take many of life’s challenges before I would lay broken at his feet crying for mercy. I can say that the love shown has remained with me and became another way that I can shout God’s glory for all to hear. That He would put Mr. Rogers in my life, that He would remain faithful to me, is the kind of love that I am just beginning to understand.

“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and every one the loveth not, knowth not God. He that loveth not, knoweth not God; for God is Love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and His love is perfected in us.” (1 John 4: 7-12)


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One Comment
  1. chris king permalink

    Amen, many of us wish we could go back and redo a lot of things but we can’t and praise God He does not expect us to!!!


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