The fact that he’s lived 91 years is remarkable in and of itself. This is a guy whose fragile health as a child had doctors predicting he would never reach adulthood.
Eighty or so years and several health crises later, he still preaches at his church, shares his faith anytime there’s an “open door”, joins his friends for breakfast twice a week, and until recently was a chaplain on call at the local hospital.
And all that barely scratches the surface of the schedule he keeps.
He’s fond of saying, “I’d rather wear out than rust out” and frankly, I don’t see either one of those happening any time soon. His life is and always has been about being Jesus to those he meets and in that regard, he is unstoppable.
What he has crammed into his long life is nothing short of inspiring. He served our country with honor in the Navy during World War II; came home from the Pacific and drove a truck, delivered mail, painted houses, graduated college, practiced accounting, and in 1953, surrendered to God’s call into ministry.
Those in the church where he was ordained called him “preacher boy”, but what he accomplished over the next 60+ years took a man. God’s man.
He planned – with my mom – to devote his life to foreign missions in Chile. With three small children, he went to seminary full time while holding down two jobs and preaching on weekends. When the mission board of our denomination turned him down at the last minute, he adapted. Instead of South America, he pastored congregations in less exotic places like Mineral Wells, Texas, and Key West, Florida (to name but two of the many).
He didn’t have an easy time of it, ever, but he never complained. And the idea of giving up and doing something else wasn’t even on his radar. He just kept listening for God’s voice and humbly obeying Him one step at a time.
His simple faith is the bedrock of his character and it formed a solid foundation for our family. He modeled commitment, remaining faithful to my mom for 54 years. After her death in 1997, he married another dedicated Christian woman and has shared his life with her and her family for the last 15 years.
You can be sure we all realize what a gift we have been given in this beloved man. We are thankful to God every day for an earthly father who makes tangible the concept of a loving Heavenly Father.
Are you wondering about the song? It’s one from the ’90s by Christian recording artist Steve Green: “Find Us Faithful”. Maybe there is someone in your life this song brings to mind. I hope so.
We’re pilgrims on the journey
Of the narrow road
And those who’ve gone before us line the way
Cheering on the faithful, encouraging the weary
Their lives a stirring testament to God’s sustaining grace
Surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses
Let us run the race not only for the prize
But as those who’ve gone before us
Let us leave to those behind us
The heritage of faithfulness passed on through godly lives
After all our hopes and dreams have come and gone
And our children sift through all we’ve left behind
May the clues that they discover and the memories they uncover
Become the light that leads them to the road we each must find
Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful
May the fire of our devotion light their way
May the footprints that we leave
Lead them to believe
And the lives we live inspire them to obey
Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful.
Yes, that’s my Dad. He’s given our family “a heritage of faithfulness” and his Godly life is certainly “a testament to God’s sustaining grace”. We find him faithful, every single day.
Happy 91st birthday, Wallace Rivers – We love you with all our hearts!
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