Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News
January 13, 2013
The falling of a giant oak is
a time for reflection
friend Ted Cheek was not a perfect man. There are no perfect men among us.
Since time began there has been only one and his name was Jesus.
We all have our flaws. Ted had his. I have
mine. You have yours. Of our weaknesses we are all aware. That is why we long
for our friends to love us “warts and all.” And that is really the only way
people can be loved. Love finds a way to leap over a person’s faults.
What inspires us all is to see a fellow human
being rise above his flaws and make a difference with his life. Ted Cheek was
such a man.
In his early years Ted’s problems seemed
to overpower him. More than once he was on the verge of defeat. But Ted was a
fighter. He kept clawing and scratching for a way to win. And he did.
The difference for Ted was faith. Like
most of us Ted struggled with many questions. But finally he found his way out
of the woods by becoming a devout Christian. He became a new man in the best
sense of that phrase so common in Christian parlance.
changed man, Ted never took credit for the change. He would tell you
emphatically, “The Lord did it; he took all my problems off my back.” And those
who knew Ted best realized that the Lord had begun changing Ted’s question
marks into exclamation points. Ted had thrown out his doubts and embraced faith
in God wholeheartedly.
transformation of Ted’s life led him to become more than a church member and
more than a church “leader.” His faith rubbed off on those around him and as
the years rolled on he helped his church to grow even as his own faith was
of the Old Testament prophets used an interesting phase to describe people
whose lives God had changed. Isaiah said, “They will be called oaks of
righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor” (61:3).
In the forest an oak can be quite a tree.
A giant oak is impressive. Ted was a big man physically but even more he was a
giant oak of the faith. Though not perfect Ted was an “oak of righteousness,” a
man sold out to the God who had rescued him from his weaknesses.
This past Tuesday Ted departed this life
almost a year after being diagnosed with ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis),
commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Terminal illness is a shock to the best
of us, even those with strong faith.
faith was tested but it did not fail. During a year of struggle and suffering
we saw Ted look death in the face and refuse to be intimidated. His faith grew
stronger. He prayed. He sang. He witnessed. He testified to the love of the God
he had trusted with his whole being. He immersed himself in the Holy Scriptures.
When you visited Ted you realized that God was all over that house.
did not go whimpering to the grave. He knew the death of his body would usher
him into the nearer presence of his God. He showed his family and friends how
to die – with absolute confidence that Jesus had prepared a place for him in
heaven, a room in the Father’s House.
loved to sing and though he could barely hear we had some great times in his
home singing songs of faith. All his life Ted loved the songs of Johnny Cash.
As a fitting footnote to Ted’s uniqueness, a medley of Cash’s songs were played
by his friend Guy Johnson as Ted’s body was taken out of the church he loved so
recent years Ted enjoyed Josh Turner’s song, “Long Black Train.” The song
begins with the words, “There’s a long black train comin’
down the line, feeding off the souls that are lost and cryin’.”
is a warning in the song to “watch out brother” because the “devil’s drivin’ that long black train.”
I think Ted liked that quaint song because
of this affirmation in the lyrics: “You know there’s victory in the Lord, I say
Victory in the Lord; cling to the Father and His Holy name and don’t go ridin’ on that long black train.”
The devil had to be disappointed this week
because he never succeeded in getting Ted to get on board that long black
train. Instead Ted boarded that “sweet chariot” that came down Tuesday and gave
him a ride to the Father’s House.
We will miss Ted but we will never forget
that unique giant oak the Lord planted in our midst to display his splendor. +