It is late at night and I am looking intently at a picture. A group of men has gathered round a man and a woman to pray for them. They are following a tradition that goes back thousands of years, back to the days of the Old Testament when blessings were conferred by the laying on of hands. On the left side of the picture, at the edge of the group, stands a tall man in an orange pullover shirt. His hands are clasped, his head is bowed, and it appears he is listening intently. His name is Fred Most. He and the other elders of the church had gathered round Marlene and me during our farewell service at Calvary last September.
The pose was characteristic because Fred never pushed himself forward. Though he was an elder and a very godly man, he never enjoyed speaking in public. Even when the elders met privately, Fred would listen intently, rarely saying much. But when he spoke, he always had something to say.
There was another side to Fred that a few of us got to know. He was a gifted athlete who excelled in several sports. For years he led the way on Calvary's bowling team. He was a gifted tennis player and arguably the best golfer in the church. I say arguably because, well, you always get an argument about something like that, and if Fred could read this now, he would say, "Pastor, you shouldn't say that. I'm not the best golfer." He was there the first time I ever played golf, during a Calvary golf retreat back in 1990 or 1991. I had quite literally never played golf before in my life. Not once. But the men talked me into going with them to Cincinnati, Stan Utigard gave me a bag and some clubs, Len Hoppe gave me a driver, and I survived that first grueling day by shooting just under (or maybe just over) 160. Fred was an excellent golfer who didn't mind the antics of a wannabe like me. In the years that followed he and I and Vern Henriksen played golf together a number of times at Columbus Park in Chicago. Fred had a fluid swing and a steady putter, and while I was swinging mightily and hitting the ball maybe fifteen yards, Fred would just smile and say, "Nice shot, Pastor." He wasn't even joking. I think playing with me gave him a little comic relief.
And if anything I said or did ever put a smile on his face, it could not repay the kindness he and his wife Florence showed to Marlene and me duirng our years in Oak Park. Together they were quite a team. If I had to pick a word, it would be servant. Fred and Florence were servants of the living God. For years they volunteered as tutors at Oak Park Christian Academy. They visited the sick, called on the shut-ins, and stepped in at a moment's notice to minister to multitudes of hurting people. And the congregation for the most part didn't know about it. They gave of themselves behind the scenes and wanted no public recognition.
I should add that Fred came to Christ in the 1970s when an EE team from Calvary (I think it was Howard Harvey and John Tahl) visited them one night and presented the gospel. Fred never got over the wonder of his salvation. Perhaps that was the source of his very tender heart.
He and Florence loved us and cared for us and made over us as if Marlene and I were their children. And in a way we were.
Last Saturday morning Fred died at the age of 74. It is hard to express the sadness I feel in my soul. He was a good and decent man, a man of honor, a man with a servant's heart, a modest man who was loved by all who knew him. I never heard anyone say a negative word about Fred because there was a quality of goodness about him that was evident to all who knew him.
Fred has gone to heaven. Of that I am sure, not because he was a good man (though he was) and not because he served others (though he did), but because he placed his full trust and confidence in the Lord Jesus Christ. May the Lord draw near to Florence and to every member of the family with comfort and peace and eternal hope.
Rest well, Fred. We will see you again.