Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Mr Munholland

Influence is something each of us do everyday without even realizing it. Like it or not, intentional or not, you are influencing those that interact with you as you live your life each day.

I want to tell you about a man that I have tremendous respect for. This respect has grown over the years as I've realized the influence he had on me at such a young age in my life. I'm 46 years old today, but the way this man lived his life still impacts me to this day and I haven't seen him for years. As a matter of fact the last time I did see him was maybe 8 years ago or so, I'm not quite sure. He was getting up in years and he was very weak in his old age. His wife had passed on and he was now living alone. I had traveled home to visit my family while on vacation and God had laid it on my heart to find Mr. Munholland and visit with him. He was on my mind a lot lately. I asked my folks if they knew where Mr. Munholland was living now and they did. So I went to see this dear old man. Before I go any further with this, let me tell you about Mr. Munholland...

When I was about 12 years old I lived a couple of miles outside the small town of Mulvane KS. I lived in a small mobile home with my family in "Munhollands" mobile home park. Mr Munholland was the owner of the mobile home park and he was our landlord. When we first moved there I really never thought a lot about Mr. Munholland. He was friendly enough, but at my age I was always into something I shouldn't be into and being the landlord that he was, well he would have to get after me from time to time. I always liked playing in the big ditch behind his house, He had built a retaining wall there and as many times as he would tell me not to climb it, well, I just couldn't help myself, I'd climb it anyway and he'd always be running me off. he also had storm shelters that he had built for his tenants to go into when the threat of tornado's would come in the spring time of each year. Well I always liked playing in those shelters. They made a fantastic fort to play in, But he was always running me out of there too. He did hire me to mow his lawn every summer and he even recommended me to many of the people he rented his lots to. He was so particular about how I mowed his yard. $3.00 is what he paid me and he would always inspect my work after I was done. He'd walk the yard and look at everything. Did I get the weeds clipped around the patio? Were the weeds pulled from the fence row? Did I mow the grass level and in straight lines. He was a tough ol guy to work for, but I always felt like he appreciated the job I did. For about a month out of every summer his grandson would come to stay with him. His name was Steve too. We quickly became best of friends and we would spend every hour of every day, playing in the fields and hiking down to the creek. We loved to ride our bikes down the road to the train tracks and watch those trains go by. We both loved trains!

As I got to spending more and more time with Steve, well of course I was spending more and more time with Mr. and Mrs. Munholland. I started to notice things about Mr. Munholland that I thought was really strange. He had certain rules that he would follow in the way he lived his life. Without fail, every Sunday he and his wife would go to church. You see I didn't go to church, no one in my family went to church. So I really didn't understand why anyone really went to church. But he always went. Another thing I noticed about Mr. Munholland was that he would never work on Sunday. Every other day of the week, he was working like crazy all day long. He'd fix this or fix that, or he'd be pouring cement for a new patio on a new lot. He might be smoothing out the sand on our gravel roads, or working on the well pump that was giving us trouble. He was always very busy and hard at work. But on Sunday, he never worked... well I take that back, the only time he worked on Sunday was if someone in the park had a problem or an emergency repair that absolutely couldn't wait till Monday, then he'd fix it. I also noticed that if the first of the month fell on a Sunday, then he wouldn't take our rent money until the next day. I can remember my dad asking me to run the rent check over to Mr. Munholland, but saying because it was Sunday I'd have to take it over in the morning. Mr. Munholland would not do business on Sunday. I really just didn't get it, but figured if that's what he wants to do then, OK! As I got to spending more time with his grandson, well this got me in the house more. On Sundays all he and Mrs. Munholland would do after they got home from Church was sit around the house and listen to Gospel music and read their bibles. I'm not kidding... Every time I came over on Sunday afternoons, I'd find them sitting together in the living room reading their bibles and visiting and you know what? They really seemed happy. It was like this was the best day of the week for them, and all I could think about was, how boring is that. Sitting around the house reading all day long. Whats wrong with these two? So Steve and I would head off to the creek or hop on our bikes and go have a blast playing together all afternoon until it was time for them to go to church again that evening.
Occasionally Mr. Munholland would go and talk to my dad and ask if I could go to church with them and of course I would get to go. It was always fun because we would stop afterwords and eat lunch at a restaurant somewhere. What a treat! My family rarely went out to eat! So I really liked it when we'd do that. (As I think back now, the food we ate at the restaurants wasn't near as good as moms cooking, but it was just different and fun!)
Their church was incredible. It was big and I can remember just watching and listening to all that was said and all that happened there. It felt good to be there, and the people were very nice and friendly, I liked it. It would make me think about things like.... why didn't my family go to church? Is there really a God? If there really is a God, why does my Mom and Dad never talk about him. I really struggled with those questions because after going a few times I began to believe that God was real, but if He was real, then my parents would believe in him wouldn't they? Maybe they do believe in God! But why don't we go to church then? These were questions I often thought about at that age but never really asked anybody about. Well as summer came to an end so did his grandsons vacation. Back to Missouri Steve would go until next summer. And that's pretty much how every year went with Mr. Munholland until finally Steve got older and came less often and I got older and we just kind of lost touch. I finally graduated from High School and joined the Army and I've been living out of state just about ever since.

25 years later....

About 8 years ago, Living in Tennessee, I was sitting there in my living room with my wife and we were both listening to Christian music and reading our bibles after eating a big lunch and enjoying a wonderful service at our church that morning, and I realized just how much I was enjoying being able to relax and just read my bible. It was the best day of my week! I finally got it! Now I know what it was that Mr. Munholland had. As a kid, I thought it was silly, even a little crazy, and here I am today doing the same thing. I wonder what my boys were thinking as they hurried off out the door to go hop on their bikes and speed off down the road headed for the creek? Probably.... what is it with Mom and Dad?... I don't get it!

As I drove to Mr. Munhollands house, I was anxious to see him again after all these years. I rang the door bell and he was so happy to see me. I had called him to see if he would be there prior to me coming to visit, so he was expecting me, but we hadn't seen each other for so long... we both looked different. We had a lot of catching up to do and we both enjoyed our visit so much. I missed not getting to visit with Mrs. Munholland.
After catching up, I wanted to tell Mr. Munholland the reason for my visit. I told him that he has influenced me more than anyone ever has in my life other than my family of course. However, the influence that he had on my life, changed my life for eternity! I wanted him to know that because I had the opportunity to be around him, to watch him, to spend time with him and see how he lived his life in obedience to the way he felt God wanted him to live, that he profoundly impacted my life. I used to think he was crazy. I never understood at the time while I was young, but God used him as an example for me to see and learn from. Eventually I gave my life to Christ, and so did my wife and kids. You know I don't ever remember Him preaching to me about God... ever. But God spoke to me through the way he lived. I just wanted to thank him and let him know that I belong to Christ today, because of the way he lived for Christ back 20 years ago as an example for me. I just wanted to thank him. I loved him so much. And just as I expected.... that was the last thing he expected me to tell him. It touched his heart and we cried together. After all... I was that kid that only went to church with them because I could spend more time with their grandson that way and it gave me a chance to go out and eat at a restaurant. But I watched him and I saw what was important to him, and that always stuck in my mind over the years. What did he have that I didn't. How can he be that content? What is it that drives him to live this way and be sold out so completely to it? I found the answer... JESUS!

Thank you Mr. Munholland, Thank you.

I have to ask... Who are you influencing today? Somebody is watching us and we must never forget the power of influence we have on those that interact with our lives every day. I pray often for that kind of obedient lifestyle, and I've never seen such disipline in a man to live for Christ as I have in Mr. Munholland.

God's blessing upon you as you live for Him.



Anonymous said...

good post. that has the makings of a novel or movie or something.

Anonymous said...

or better yet, a song.