As some of you know, my father-in-law passed away September 4th. We spent a week in Georgia with the family doing all the stuff one does at a time like that. I’m not going to blog about that. Instead, I’m going to blog about the life of Paul Samuel Kitchen, father of my wife.
One of the pastors at the funeral said something that really struck me. He said Paul lived out his faith practically. That definitely is what I remember most about him. To illustrate this, I’ll give some examples.
Heather and I bought a house together right before we got married. She lived in it while I lived at my mom’s. We were determined to finish the master bedroom before we got married (we bought it unfinished). Paul spent many long days working (along with my family and friends) to make that a reality. After Heather and I married and I moved in, we wanted to redo the bathroom. We set our ambitions high and even wanted to move walls, redo wiring, add a jetted tub, remove the tile floor, and more. Well, about halfway through that project, I shattered the bottom third of my kneecap in a kayaking accident (sit on top kayaks and Class 3 rapids don’t always mix). Paul came up nearly daily for as long as it took to finish the project, often working by himself all day as I watched from the adjacent bedroom, highly doped up on Hydrocodone.
In case you’re thinking “Who wouldn’t do that for family?”, that was the norm for him. He would often help people with yard work (he went to his brother’s house every other week), fix plumbing leaks, even help building houses. That was who he was and how he lived his faith. Heck, he spent 26 years pulling people out of burning buildings and wrecked cars and driving firetrucks and ambulances as a Gwinnett County, GA Fireman. He was the first to propose fitness standards for that county’s firemen and after his retirement, he continued to teach children and adults in first aid, fire safety, CPR, and AED.
The reason I’m writing this post is not to build up a man. I’m writing to point out how a man lived out his faith. He didn’t talk about it much, but he didn’t need to. One could sum up his life with a quote often attributed to St. Francis of Assisi (though probably not his): “Preach the Gospel. Use words when necessary.”
Even more fitting (and definitely more biblical) is what James 2:14-26 (especially 2:18) says:
(14) What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? (15) If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, (16) and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? (17) So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. (18) But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. (19) You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! (20) Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? (21) Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? (22) You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; (23) and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. (24) You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. (25) And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? (26) For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.