The word “great” is a little like the word “awesome” – it may mean a lot or nothing. Ask some people, “How are you today?” Immediately, without as much as a thought they fire back with, “awesome, man, awesome!” I usually wonder, “In what way, when did you become that way. It would never have dawned on me that you were anywhere close to being awesome.” One man’s opinion, I guess.
I have met few, if any, I would describe as being “awesome”. At the moment, these words come to mind, from St. Paul, “… I say … to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly …” (Romans 12:3). “I’m awesome, man” hardly seems to me like the thoughts of a sober person.
Back to the simple word “great” with which the awesome man is soaked through and through. Great has to do with size, intensity, importance, fame and quality. What are some of the characteristics of a great person in terms of exceptional, first-rate, outstanding and even in sight of awesomeness?
Just for size and fit, let’s try on such words as, humility, devotion, love, commitment, work, faithfulness, generosity and finishing well.
Of the thousands of men I have known, none have been held in higher esteem than Lawrence E. Maxedon. From August 1, 1964 to December 1989, a little more than 25 years I had the God-blessed privilege of being pastor of Peoples Church of God, Decatur, Illinois. During that time, Lawrence and Mae Maxedon and their family were dear friends.
Mae, her brother, Don Pedigo and his wife, June, blessed our lives and those of hundreds of others. Kitty, Elizabeth, Mark and I find it easy to remember wonderful things about Lawrence.
He was a humble man who never once gave the appearance of thinking more highly of himself than others. He was a man’s man, not afraid to get his hands in the dirt and use them to produce for his family, whom he dearly loved. Each one was very special to him. Numerous times, he brought food from his garden to our family and to many others in his community and church.
He served the church as a choir member, on the Board of Trustees and the Church Council. He was always cooperative in his attitude, never having his own agenda. He wanted to help in every way possible.
His solo voice was one of the most beautiful. It was always a thrill to hear him sing.
During the 25 years I was in Decatur, we never had a man in the congregation who was more generous than Lawrence Maxedon. His financial support of the congregation blessed thousands in Illinois, the nation and the world. His love, prayers and generosity enhanced our world missions program. He lived with eternity in view.
He reached his goal of 100 years. He was a great man among us because he was the servant of all. He was a man who belonged to God. He walked with God so closely that one day he was closer to God’s home than his own and so God just took him on to the mansion He had prepared for His son, Lawrence.
Fifteen days after his one-century birthday, July 12, 2012, God took him. Pretty much as Enoch left this world. It was said of him, “And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him” (Genesis 5:24).
This is the final testimony of Lawrence Maxedon, “He walked with God and God took him.” I and thousands of others who knew him will do well to prepare to meet him again in God’s heaven.