In December 2005 Jim Monson passed away. Jim was 78, had a long battle with heart disease, and was married to Judi’s cousin Joann Slater. Jim was a gregarious, outgoing man.
At his funeral in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, the pastor told the true story of a young family who had adopted a baby from South Korea last summer. They had her baptized in the church during a Sunday morning service. (Jim and his daughter Chris were also at that service.)
The next week, the couple received an anonymous letter which was signed “the old soldier”. The pastor read the letter and I will summarize it. The letter said “I served one year in Korea during the war. I lived in conditions you couldn’t ask your animals to live in, I was wounded three times, I lost three of my best friends and over the years I saw no sense for this whole experience which just showed man’s inhumanity to man.” The old soldier was angry and bitter.
He went on to write “but this morning during the church service I saw the baptism of your daughter, a baby who came FROM a free country, she came TO a free county, to be baptized and to know Jesus. I thought about that and I wondered, probably God’s reason for having me in Korea was so your little daughter could know Christ.” The letter was signed “The Old Soldier”.
(After Jim passed away, Chris was going through his computer and came across the letter from “the old soldier”. She did not know that her dad was the one who had written the letter until that time.)
Tears were rolling down my face; I looked across the aisle and Judi’s cousin who served a hard tour of duty in Viet Nam had tears in his eyes also. As we walked out together, he said to me “Jerry, Jim gave us a lot to think about tonight.” I said, “Yes, he sure did.”
What impressed me about this incident and Jim Monson is this. After 50+ years Jim was open to have his mind changed. How many of us have our past hurts tucked away inside, forever frozen there to serve as a constant reminder of our hurt and pain. Jim was willing to listen, learn and change.
We have to be careful how we judge events that happen in our lives. What we judge as bad may in the long term be for our good and the good of others.
This cancer I’m recovering from, I don’t like it, but I needed it. I needed to slow up, appreciate what I have, realize God always wants the best for me. Thank you Lord for the reminder.
Scriptures: Jeremiah 24:5, Psalm 119:71, I Peter 1:6, Genesis 50:20, John 16:20, Hebrews 12:7.