A Gentle Giant of a Man

Posted by Susan On January 19, 2019 ADD COMMENTS

One week ago, a very dear friend suffered a massive stroke. As I write this, our long time friend Jim Rose remains unresponsive, in a weakening condition. Clearly, hearts ache when a friend suffers. At the same time, the value of that friend’s life rushes to the forefront of the mind like a flood, even as we pray “Thy Will be done.” And honestly, there are very few individuals who have made an impact as deep and or as lasting as this quiet, kindhearted, gentle spirited, unassuming man has made on my life, and a very great number of others’ lives. 

Dan and I first heard about Jim Rose in 1987 when a Christian school administrator in California gave Dan a copy of Jim’s book, A Guide to America’s Christian History for the Home and School: The Principle Approach at a pastors’ conference. Dan devoured the book in his hotel room, read it during his entire flight home to the east coast where we were living at the time, then handed it to me when he got home with an incredulous, “You’ve got to read this!!” As though I’d discovered a feast, I also hungrily devoured it– and my life changed!

Both Dan and I had grown up in Christian homes, had gone to church all of our lives, and yet neither of us had known or even understood the comprehensive nature of our faith as it is applied to all of life. That’s what Jim opened our eyes to in his book. Till then, we’d been living in a sort of dichotomy, where our Christian faith only applied to some areas, but not others. Our faith was personal, not all-encompassing; it was something that infused our private devotional lives and gave us hope that no matter how bad the world might be, we could look forward to a peaceful home in heaven when life was over. But we didn’t understand how our faith applied to every aspect of life and living, here and now.

It’s important to note here that up to this point, even though I was a Christian and truly believed in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, I had struggled with fear of being left alone in my thoughts. The world depressed me; insecurity and a poor self-image kept me bound with nagging accusations. I loved my children, though, and found satisfaction in my goal of making sure they were saved so that they too would have heaven to look forward to, no matter how bad this world might be. So I filled my life with external distractions– music, people, chatter, maternal responsibilities, and busyness– to avoid being left alone in my depressing thoughts.  

But Jim’s book stirred my mind with wonderful thoughts I’d never considered before! It was a message of such great hope. He was telling us how the Bible is comprehensive and has something to say about every part of life– areas I had never connected with my faith! There are biblical principles upon which our nation had been founded that had something to say about every detail of life: how businesses are run; about economics; about how we study; about education itself; about Mathematics and Science and History; about child-rearing; about every single aspect of how we live our lives!

Specifically, Jim wrote about the government of God that rules every area of life. I began to finally grasp what Isaiah 9:7 meant when it said, “Of the increase of His government and peace, there shall be no end!” Invariably, when we hear the word “government,” we think of civil government. But Jim insisted, “Christians ought to think first of God, not man, when thinking of government. The government is upon his shoulders, resting supremely with the God-head!”

As Christian parents, we need to consider the government of Jesus Christ in such a way that our ideas about child rearing and our expectations of civil government will be severely adjusted. According to Webster’s 1828 Dictionary of the English Language, “government” is defined as, “direction, control, regulation, restraint.” In short, government asks, “Who or what is in control?”

Through Jim, we began to learn to “think governmentally.” We found that learning about the government of God is, as Jim says, “as easy as 1-2-3”:

There is ONE God governing;

He governs in TWO spheres:  internally and externally (His government begins internally and flows outward to be expressed externally);

There are THREE divine institutions (all subject to the rule of God) where government is properly expressed– the home, the church, and the state.

Jim taught us that the home is the first established institution that God set in place in order that His government and peace would be expressed. The primary purpose of the home is to be the training center where faith in God is practiced as it is applied to every area of life. It’s in the home that Christian self-government– the essential basis of all good government– is taught and practiced.

From that point on, my life changed. I recognized the degree of change when it occurred to me very suddenly one morning that I enjoyed being alone in my thoughts! There were so many good ideas to think about! I was free to think.

Now, I understood how motherhood was the call of God on my life! I immediately stopped seeing myself as an overworked, unappreciated laborer, and started skillfully and joyfully fulfilling my role as an active participant in one of three equally important covenant institutions where the government of God is expressed.

From there, we began to understand that the purpose of the church the second God-ordained institution– is to reflect His government and peace as it trains the conscience of the individual to obedience to God through the teaching and instruction of His Word. A new affection and appreciation for the church grew in me in a way that I had never understood before.

 With such change in my life, I remember consciously wondering how I would react if I ever actually met Jim Rose, after his book had so deeply changed our lives. Might I cry? And then we unexpectedly met him not long afterwards when unbeknownst to us he was the guest speaker at a Christian school we had visited to observe. I was surprisingly struck by his kind and gentle nature and quiet deportment. And from that first meeting on, Dan and I built a strong and lasting friendship with Jim and Barbara, sharing many special times of celebrating Thanksgiving, July 4th, weddings, and many wonderful times of conversation in our home, or outside around the fire pit in our backyard. He so often encouraged us with his faithful exhortation to, “Keep on keeping on!” I would never have guessed, for many of those years, that Jim would become our daughter’s father-in-law, the man who would share the blessing of four wonderful grandchildren with us. 

Jim and Barbara were with us at our home for Christmas a few weeks ago, and I’m so grateful for that one last time we had with him. In his characteristic way, after our son-in-law Jason had read the story of the birth of Jesus from the Bible, Jim asked a stirring question: “Can angels actually sing?” We pondered and discussed the idea. The following week, Jim and I talked about it more by phone, as I’d been searching to find out if angels can sing, concluding that– Praise the Lord!– we have a song of redemption that the angels cannot sing.

Last week, Jim began a new class on Economics via Skype with his grandchildren, including our two older shared grandsons. He had finished teaching them a Literature class via Skype on the book, Carry On, Mr. Bowditch. Jim’s great pleasure was teaching America’s Christian History and the biblical principles by which we could understand and interpret all of life– and he especially enjoyed finding ways to teach his own grandchildren. That same night, he was afflicted with a massive stroke that left his right side paralyzed, and left him with the inability to speak.   

As I write this, Jim is comfortably sleeping, and cannot respond. But I’m confident that he knows how great an impact he has made on my husband and me. I’m not sure he knows the great many others he has likewise affected. I know with absolute certainty that  I will see him again, in the very presence of our wonderful God. And I know exactly what our Lord will say when Jim is ushered into His presence very soon. With all my heart, I believe He will say, “Well done, good and faithful servant… Enter into the joy of the Lord.”  


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