Sam Westra was a sequoia of manhood in Rosedale Presbyterian Church. Standing 6’6″, he was around ninety years old by the time I became his pastor. Most of his life he’d been a state trooper. He was quiet and dignified and drove a yellow Plymouth Horizon about the size of today’s Honda Fit. It was a glorious thing to watch him slowly unfold from the car’s interior.
Sam wore the same ancient brown suit to church each week. The pants hung from his chest and the huge suitcoat hung to his knees.
Besides being born in the nineteenth century, Sam and Enoch had something else in common.
Soon after coming to Rosedale, I went to visit Sam at his humble home with white wood siding over in Cambria, Wisconsin, a small Welsh Presbyterian community. Entering the front door, most of the house was right there in front of you. A bit to the left at the center of the room stood a table below the wall phone, and on the table was a thick paperback large-print Bible.
Since I didn’t know Sam well yet, I went over to look at the Bible and immediately came to love him (and that love only grew the few remaining years of his life). Why?
The edges of the pages were well-worn and dirty and it made quite an impression since the Bible was at least five inches thick. Relieved, I turned to Sam and said, “You love God, don’t you?” Sam was too modest to respond positively, but I already knew and only found out more as time went on.
Enoch loved God too, and one of the many ways I knew this was his Bible.
Enoch’s Bible was a gift from Jerry Falwell Sr. Falwell’s non-profit must have sent it to Enoch as a premium in thanks for his financial support. Enoch’s Bible was also large-print, but neither paperback nor unusually thick. Rather it was leather-bound and large with lots of cross references in the center margins.
Enoch sat on the sofa inside the sliding glass doors exiting onto the huge patio with a view of Lobster Cove, and he spent his days and evenings reading that Bible. When he wasn’t working or at lunch. He never watched the television. He never listened to the radio. Occasionally he’d look at the newspaper or one of the magazines on the coffee table, but most of the time when I came into the room Enoch would have his Bible open on his lap and he’d be reading.
Enoch taught me something about reading the Bible. Mark it up. All up.
Whenever he read, Enoch had a colored marker and the pages were filled with markings of whatever color marker Enoch had been using that particular year. One year was blue, one black, one red, one yellow… At the top of each chapter were at least five or six check marks of different colors, each indicating he’d read that chapter the yellow year, for instance.
Sam Westra and Enoch Follett both lived in God’s Word. Reading Scripture was how they spent the last years of their lives, at least. Those were the years I knew them.
Their hearts were on pilgrimage to Heaven. It was so obvious. The world and all its pomp and circumstance could barely hold them back.
(To be continued.)