Wednesday, February 13, 2013

God's Grace

In memory of Bob Hoke.

 As many of you know, my dad is a pastor in the United Methodist Church.  He's been in the ministry longer than I've been alive.  Yesterday, he had the honor of assisting in the funeral services for Bob Hoke, a community stalwart and hard-working farmer who attended my dad's first charge as senior pastor.  I wanted to share the story my dad shared at Bob's funeral so that you might benefit from the story, and from the life of this truly amazing man.

Dad was a young pastor and had only been at the Paradise United Methodist Church a few months when he decided to take a walk in the woods.  An avid hunter and fisherman, he was interested to find a good spot to plant himself come deer season, and really, he just loved to walk in the woods.  So he started out on his walk, enjoying the scenery, scoping out the best place for a tree stand, and eventually came to the edge of a large corn field.

His excitement grew as he walked along the edge of the field, knowing that this would be the perfect place to set up a hunting spot.  Deer love to eat corn, and would almost certainly be in and around this field in the fall.

This particular field of corn was filled with feed corn, the kind you give to your animals during the winter months, but at the edge of the field, Dad realized the rows had changed.  At the end of the feed field, there were three rows of sweet corn.  The good kind.  The kind with white and yellow corn maized together.  The kind that tastes as though it has already been buttered.

He stopped to examine this corn - his favorite kind - and after standing there a good while thought to himself, "The farmer of this field will never miss a few of these ears, I'll pick some and take them home for supper."  And so he did.  He chose two ears, one for himself and one for his wife, and stuffed them into his jacket pockets.  He had only walked a few feet when he thought, "Perhaps these two ears won't be enough for a good supper, I'll just take two more."  And he did.  So the four ears were in his jacket pockets, peeking out of the top, silks and all.

As he rounded the next corner and began to head for home, he ran smack into, who else, but the farmer, who also happened to be a parishoner in his church.  He was caught red handed.  Dad was certain the farmer (Bob Hoke) could see the ears peaking conspicuously out of his pockets.

"Well hello, Preacher!"  Bob smiled.  Dad was certainly blushing, but neither man said a thing about the corn in his pockets.  They made small talk about the field, and Dad was educated as to why Bob chose to plant the sweet corn alongside his feed.  Eventually, the conversation ended and the men said their goodbyes, Dad still toting the contraband corn.

He took it home that night and said nothing of it's origins to his wife, and they had it for dinner. He felt horrible about the incident, as he had hoped everyone at this new church would like him.  Had he ruined his ministry there?

The next morning upon waking, Dad went out of the front door and in the yard were 12 ears of that same, beautiful, yellow and white sweet corn.

Neither Bob nor Dad ever told another soul about the incident until Bobby's death, just last week, when Dad stood up at the funeral and told this story.

From time to time after the incident there would be more excellent sweet corn outside the door of the pasonage.  Mom wondered who the good person who kept leaving them might be, but Dad kept his secret and Bob's for over thirty years.

1 comment:

John said...

Ministry, and really all of life, are full of moments like this when we are living at our best - as close to God's grace as we can get. Great story. Thanks for sharing.

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