On many occasions I have heard the statement made, “I have never met anyone quite like him before!” It is usually made as a positive reference and it usually means a person is exceptional in some way. I myself have made this statement many times. Usually I make it when someone approaches me who has met my father-in-law for the first time. To be exceptional means to stand out, to be different than the rest of the crowd. Jim Mabery certainly did that!
I first met Jim almost 30 years ago. I was dating his youngest daughter and had decided by then she was pretty special. She told me all about her family especially about her Dad. She told me how he would pick up hitchhikers on the highway long after that was a safe thing to do. She told me how he would bring drifters home for a meal and even to stay for several days. How he would go the Africa every year and come home with only the clothes on his back and leave everything else to the poor. I thought to myself at the time, “This really is not your average sort of guy!”
After Gail and I married, I got to know Jim much better. We sometimes would have philosophical discussions, usually while he was making a 7 layered sandwich of some- kind. He loved to make hugh sandwiches and he would walk around the room giving everyone a bite. In our conversations he would talk to me about what it meant to be a “servant”. And that is what Jim Mabery was…. A servant. He didn’t care about things for himself, only others. Money meant nothing to Jim. On several occasions he turned down annual salary raises and instead asked for more time off to spend in Africa or Mexico or with his family. Jim didn’t care about material things either. He never owned a new car or a new house. He never bought fancy clothes or thought it wise to spend $ on that kind of thing. Jim Mabery knew where his treasures were layed up, in Heaven, at the throne of God Almighty where he is at this very moment. Someone recently said that Jim is now where he has wanted to be for all of his life. I’m not sure if we will know each other in Heaven or not, but if we do, no one will be surprised to see Jim Mabery come through the “Pearly Gates”!
Jo Childers wrote these words 2 days ago about Jim:
There are many famous people
Known by name when they depart.
But none known like Brother Jim was,
Those who met Him, knew his heart!
And that is so true! With Jim, what you saw is who he was. Jim would have been equally comfortable talking with Presidents or paupers, Popes or lowly sinners. It didn’t matter to Jim and if you talked to him long enough, he would always get around to talking about Jesus.
Jim was not perfect for sure. He certainly could have been more patient! He hated to wait in lines! At an airport check-in you had to keep a close eye on Jim. If you didn’t watch him closely, he would cut up to the front of the line. He would then wave for you to join him while some would glare at you as you walked by! He didn’t like long meetings either. He hated talking about stuff and issues. He was always thinking during the discussions, “Why don’t we just turn this over to God and pray about it”! After the prayer he always wanted to go visiting next. He truly loved others as he loved himself!
My mother and father taught me the Bible and about God and Jesus and Salvation. I will always be grateful to them for that. But Jim Mabery taught me about the love of Jesus, and His mercy, and forgiveness, and His compassion. I hope someday to meet another man like Jim Mabery. He will have to be a lot like Jesus who was the greatest servant of all. It has been my privaledge to follow in James Mabery’s footsteps because they have been in the footprints of Jesus.