In my last post, I expressed my desire to honor men whose lives and example have personally touched my life. This is the second part of that series.
Jon MacDonald, my Brother-in-Law
I have an older sister. A little over three years older to be exact. You learn a lot in having an older sibling. As the oldest, they are the first to experience the uncertainties of life as well as test the parameters of parents. The younger sibling gets to test the resilience of the older. They are the first to push buttons and look for chinks in the armor. I sure did my share of armor inspection.
Observing my sister’s teenage years was interesting. I watched as her social circle expanded. I respected her friendships. Then there was the day she had her first boyfriend. This guy was cool. He had lines shaved on the sides of his head, which at the time, was pretty awesome. At least in my eyes (hey, it was the 80’s). I asked if he would go to my barber with me so that I could get lines shaved in the side of my head too. He did. And so did I. Lines. On the side of my head…gnarly.
When she broke up with him, I was dumbfounded. How could she break up with the guy with cool lines on the side of his head?
Around that time, this guy named Jon MacDonald asked if I wanted to go bowling with him sometime. Absolutely! All I really knew of Jon was that he was kind of the leader of my sister’s singing group. Or at least he introduced the group (“As was said, we are the Campus Life Lightshine…”). The fact that this senior was willing to take a 6th grade kid bowling was pretty exciting for me. Little did I know at the time that it was all part of a strategy to get closer to my sister (it’s ok, I’m over it now).
When they began dating shortly after, lines on the sides of heads no longer mattered. Jon had a magnetic personality. He had posters of Petra in his room. His humor, boldness and like-ability quickly won me over. Now it was no longer about lines on the side of my head but copying Jon’s quips. “There you have it.” “Pronoblem,” which I thought was so cool at the time because it was a mix of “no” and “problem”. Ingenious. Because of him, I had a newfound appreciation for Coke and quotes from “Top Gun”. He was good on the basketball court, but could also clear it like no one’s business.
As the years went on, I came to respect Jon’s love for Jesus. He was the first person that I observed “go into ministry”. I saw how God captured his heart and how that relationship affected everything else that he did. Over the years he has encouraged me, challenged me, prayed for me and sharpened me.
I have witnessed over the years how he has faithfully loved my sister and my nephews. What you see is what you get. His life, marriage and family have become an example to countless others. I have observed him from afar, handle new responsibilities and change with a great attitude, grace and gusto. He has been fruitful in his ministries between Columbus, Ohio and Sheboygan, Wisconsin. There have been many ripples of impact as a result of Jon’s life and ministry. My marriage is a result of that as my wife was in his youth ministry in Ohio (that’s another story for a later blog).
Between a glass half full or half empty, Jon is one who will say it’s not only half full but just what is needed, if not more. He praises God for the drink. He is an encourager. Again, he is not one who would toot his own horn, but point to God’s continual grace in his life. Jon has become a pillar in our family, not only immediate, but extended as well. He has turned routine family gatherings into opportunities to share God’s goodness and faithfulness with one another. He unashamedly follows Jesus and points others to Him. He has been a sounding board not as only a brother in family, but a brother in ministry. I respect his strength, vulnerability and passion.
Jon has shown me that it’s not about lines on the sides of heads that matter, but following closely the lines of the race set before us, eyes fixed on Jesus.
Love you, Bro. You can be my wingman anytime.