Sometimes we take for granted that certain people will always be there for us. My mother was that way for me … until she wasn’t any more. My friend, Dale Myers, was also like that for me, and now he isn’t any more.
I looked forward to calling Dale. Charming and winsome, I could always count on an encouraging word, a good laugh and uncommon wisdom that seemed to come out through his pores. Dale was like a safe harbor — always there, always safe, never critical, always gracious.
Those kinds of people don’t grow on trees. And then “poof,” he, too, went away last week.
I was a royal mess when I washed up on Santa Barbara’s shores four decades ago — messed-up marriage, spiritually dried up, psychologically disoriented, and finding myself in a strange and not-so-welcoming new town.
Shortly after arrival, something led me to sign up for a weekend Christian retreat at Mount Carmel in the hills overlooking our fair city and the ocean beyond. It was led by the eminent Bible teacher J. Sidlow Baxter.
After registering, the attendees were seated for supper the first night and I wandered in, probably looking like an extra-terrestrial who’d landed on the wrong planet. Four sets of eyeballs, like shining beacons, arrested my attention as I scanned the room for a seat. Those eyes belonged to Jerry Groff and Dale Myers, accompanied by wide smiles and welcoming attitudes that irresistibly drew me in.
Dale and Jerry must have sensed my severely parched spiritual condition because they never let me drift away that entire weekend. They were my lifelines, and they weren’t about to let me go.
At the time, I didn’t need theology or abstract concepts, which were there in abundance. I needed God with “skin on him,” and they were there for me at the precise moment needed.
I don’t remember much about the superb lectures at the retreat, but I’ll never forget the unconditional grace that flowed out through those two men that seemed to wash away my sense of lostness and confusion. Somehow, I felt I was “home” in these otherwise strange surroundings. What a gift!
Sometimes we make the Christian life so complicated. We stress over whether we’re doing things “right,” whether we’re doing our “duty,” living up to what’s “expected” of us. And all along, God is waiting for “us” to get out of the way, so “He” can live in and through us.
My buddy, Dale, struggled with this tension, and so do I. And while we were preoccupied with all that “doing” stuff, God was merrily shining through us to others without our knowing. Duh!
In 2 Corinthians 4:5-7, he wrote, “For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond servants on account of Jesus. For God, who said, ‘Light shall shine out of darkness,’ is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen containers, so that the extraordinary greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves.”
You could always count on Dale’s heart to be in the right place, lighthearted and humorous, genuinely concerned for other people and out to be the best version of himself every day. Dale always wore his faith on his sleeve. No one who got within his “radar range” would miss detecting his Christian “vibe.”
Was Dale perfect? Hardly. No one hits on all spiritual cylinders all the time. But he was faithful to his Savior, and that’s what shone through.
I could go on.
Dale’s lifelong dedication to the work of the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission was inspirational. He worked tirelessly as spokesman, fundraiser, mentor and all-around leader. He recruited many local volunteers, including myself, to teach and mentor in the men’s addiction recovery program.
He was a master communicator and wordsmith, composing catchy radio advertising messages and voicing commercials earlier in his career.
Dale was a wonderful and faithful husband, father and grandfather. His family is amazing and his legacy secure.
I’m so proud to have known him and look forward to catching up with him in heaven when my time comes. I’m sure his “eyes, like shining beacons” — and Jerry’s, too — will be among the first sights I see at supper.
“Let’s rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him (Jesus), because the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His bride (the Church) has prepared herself … Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast (supper) of the Lamb.”
— Revelation 19:7-9
— D.C. Collier is a Bible teacher, discipleship mentor and writer focused on Christian apologetics. A mechanical engineer and internet entrepreneur, he is the author of My Origin, My Destiny, a book focused on Christianity’s basic “value proposition.” Click here for more information, or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.