In Matthew 7:15-20 Jesus said the following:
15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them. "
I was blessed to know a man who was a mighty oak. He was someone that I did not know for too long, and that is all the more pity. But the blessing is that I did know him at all. There are people who are, sadly, too few and far between in our lives that make it so much more rich because of the joy that they share with us that is overflowing from their hearts. When you see a person like that you automatically smile because it is a reflection of the smile that is permanently painted on their face AND because you know that they will make you happy with their presence no matter what mood you are in when you see them.
Wes Engelkes was that type of person. He was a giant of a man, and to me, he seemed like a colossus. I am not sure exactly how tall he was. I am sure that it was in the six feet range. However, he seemed so large to me because he was a man of faith in Christ and that faith radiated from him in all he did and from much of what he said.
Wes was not one to go off and tell everyone about Jesus the way some do in a fashion where even the Pope would say, "Alright, enough already." But Wes would tell you what God had done and was doing for him in his life. I had one such discussion with Wes when I was at a very low point in my life. I was recently divorced and jobless, homeless and really had no idea where my life was going or what I should do. I was estranged from my own family and was very much like a rudderless ship going around in circles in a sea of despair. I had lost all confidence in myself as a person and as father and was in many ways living my life in the fiery furnace. Then along came Wes.
In his humble Midwestern style he put his hand on my shoulder and said, "Mr. Steven, it's going to get better. I believe that God has a purpose for you and that things will turn if you only trust Him. I know. He's done that for me. And He loves us just the same. I believe in you so start believing in yourself." He gave me a sly, loving look and then gave me a hug. It was something that I needed to hear and from someone who had my respect.
Wes and his wife Eileen gave me and my children so much love and support and that also came from their daughter Pam and her husband and my friend Mike. I owe them all a debt that I'll be happy to pay off the rest of my life because I know that they gave me the love of Christ and did as Jesus told Peter when He said to him, "Feed my sheep."
Wes' life bore more fruit than any orchard or farm or market could hold and it was not done to serve his ego or pride. If you knew the man you would know what humility really meant. No, he did what he did, and lived his life the way he did for the glory of God and in thankfulness for all that God had blessed him with. And Wes would tell you that God had given him so much with a loving wife and wonderful children and grandchildren, and even a great grandchild. I know that he would not have traded that for anything.
Wes has left this earthly life but I do take comfort that he is with our Savior in Glory. And what Wes has left behind are deeds that are still bearing fruit for the Glory of God. I am thankful that I was there to share in that and to know a man like Wes.