I saw an old photograph tonight. It took me back to a time when things were more clear, more innocent, and more wholesome. They were good times. They were the times in my life when I had a firm belief that my conscience was useful and something I could act on, that there was good to be done in the world and my only obligation was to discover it, that the friends I had made would be lifelong companions. During this time and place in my life, there were the Wisers.
Norah was kind and a great teacher. Bill was quiet and was great at getting things done. Together they were the youth directors of my childhood church. Together, they were the goal of what I tried to achieve in my years as a youth minister. As far as I know, they were “part time” with the church, though you never suspected they did anything other than love on kids. I think Norah may have been the church secretary and Bill was a fireman. They may be surprised to know the effect they had on so many lives, but I would not. They had a great effect on mine and still do.
Bill drove the big, yellow, church bus. We would stop and he would get out and light a cigarette. A cigarette I am sure he needed after hauling around a bunch of teenagers. He took us to New York, to the beach, and many other places. One night in the dormitory style beach house we were staying in, some of my friends decided to fly a Frisbee that glowed in the dark to all our other friends in the top bunks. I was so excited when someone finally threw it to me. I was more excited that I caught it. At that moment, that very instant, before I could determine who to throw it to next, Bill Wiser, out of nowhere, in a deep soft voice, spoke directly in my ear, “Put it down and go to sleep”.
I did just that. He never said another word about it and I never thought he was mad. In retrospect, that seemed like the perfect reaction for a youth director. One that even God might have if he thought I was doing wrong. But the funny thing about the Wisers was this. They never tried to convince me to believe anything. They never did anything but love me. They never crammed anything down my proverbial throat. Yet, because of that, when I think of them, I remember good times, but I am also compelled to do good for others, as they did good to me and countless others. And that seems to be the gospel, doesn’t it? The Wisers did not teach me about Jesus, they taught me, by their example, to be Jesus.
I fail to do it daily, but I think nothing would be better, than to live what I learned in a church office, or in a top bunk, or even getting off of a big, yellow, bus.