Several years ago a hotel chain launched a very successful ad campaign that brought the budget hotel into the mainstream. The byline of this popular advertisement was “we’ll leave the light on for you”! The message was simple. We want you to stay with us because we will treat you like a part of the family. The phrase was warm, welcoming and made travelers feel like it was a place that would be just right for a short stay.
While this phrase is just an invitation to book a room at a hotel, the phrase is one that I can’t get off my mind. You see, this past week we said goodbye to a man who embodied the sentiment behind this phrase. In fact, from the first day I met Rodney Brooks (Rod) 32 years ago until the last time he gave me a hug, I felt invited, accepted, welcome and loved!! He was just like that. But It wasn’t just me who felt this way, it was everyone who ever came in contact with him for longer than a minute felt the same way. He had a way about him where he treated everyone the same and as if they were the most important people to him. Of course, I know he had his favorites, but you never felt that way when you talked to him. He genuinely cared, and saw beneath the surface what a person was thinking or feeling. You knew this because of the questions he asked. He was never impersonal or general, he was specific and intentional.
What was it that made Rod so special? Hands down it was his relationship with Jesus Christ. No doubt, you will rarely meet a more genuine man of God. He emulated loving God and loving your neighbor as you love yourself. Living for the Lord was his lifeblood, his purpose, his calling. Sure, he was a successful businessman, running a construction company for many years, a solid leader in the community and a faithful minister in his church, a loving husband of 35 years and incredible father and grandfather, but it was his love for the Lord and dedication to sharing him with anyone and everyone that made him a stand out among men. What was so incredible about his witness was that because of his authentic life marked by giving, serving and loving everyone, people who heard his testimony took it to heart. He modeled the life of a Christ follower in a way that made others want to be just like him! There was not an ounce of hypocrisy in him and I guess that’s one of the most inspiring things about him. His funeral was a packed house with people from all walks of life coming together to celebrate a life well lived and one that will certainly leave a hole that will be impossible to fill.
So how do we process and move on from a loss this monumental? At the funeral there were numerous verses shared that reflected Rod’s life. They were all appropriate and perfect, but for me, this is the lesson I learned from Rod. It is found in Luke chapter 10 – the story of the good Samaritan. Verses 10-37 are packed with truth, so I recommend reading it, but let me sum it up. When a Jewish man was traveling and was attacked by robbers and left for dead, no one came to his aid but rather avoided him and passed on the other side, until a Samaritan, who was actually an enemy of the Jews, stopped to help him. He took care of his wounds, paid for a meal, a place to stay, in other words he helped him back on his feet. This is Rod. He never met a stranger and a person in need was never a bother. (this is true about his wife, Cindy, as well). All of this passage is true about Rod, but the phrase that gets me is verse 37. This is where Jesus said unequivocally, “go and do likewise”! Jesus used the story of the Good Samaritan to give us a model of how to truly love our neighbor, and God gave us Rodney Brooks to show us an example for our time!
How can we honor this man’s legacy? We can follow his example of loving people, welcoming everyone, giving generously and being genuine in our actions and words. In fact, living more like Jesus kind of sums it up and that’s exactly what Rod would tell us to do!
So, while his loss is deep and wide, I know he is with his Savior and I think he is saying, see you soon, “I will leave the light on for you”!
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