January 25, 2013
The Real Deal is a term used quite a bit today. It is used to distinguish the genuine article from something which is just not quite up to par. The first time I heard the term used was by John Madden during a halftime commentary of a football game. Madden used it while praising a particular NFL football player he considered to be the best in the league at his position. The way Madden used the term, and the manner in which he described the player, gave the term a deeper meaning for me. I like John Madden and always appreciated his commentary and honesty in his assessment of both players and teams. I always thought John Madden was the real deal as a sportscaster.
I know another man who is the real deal. His name is Mr. Robert Sweet, of Sweetwater, Texas. I have seen Robert deal with some really heavy stuff . . . I have seen him carry some heavy loads . . . I have seen him falsely accused . . . lied and gossiped about . . . slandered . . . and back-bitten by those who claimed to be his friends. Yes, indeed, I have seen some stuff about and around this man . . . but there is one thing I have never seen . . . I have never seen him be anything other than a gracious, true gentleman . . . a genuine servant of the Lord.
Robert is always quick to: agree with his adversary . . . forgive those who trespass against him . . . love his neighbor . . . assist a stranger . . . visit the sick and those incarcerated . . . carry other’s burdens . . . find an olive branch to extend when friction raises its ugly head . . . try to find a way to make others right . . . forgive any debt . . . and to hold his head up and look everyone in the eye. That is just the type of man he is . . . and that is rare in this day and time.
I once witnessed him deal with a really ugly situation. A situation filled with strife, controversy, and bitterness in a very heated, public situation . . . and he did it with a measure of grace, charm, and dignity which I had never witnessed before. I was simply amazed as I watched him calmly and masterfully defuse the situation with love, kindness, and respect; yet, he did not compromise what was right or diminish the truth during the process. That event took place about ten years ago, and I still remember it like it was yesterday.
I saw death strike his family . . . up close and personal (and totally unexpected); and I saw this fine man humbly accept it with amazing grace and dignity and weather the storm. When I offered my condolences before the funeral, he looked at me and calmly stated, “Everything is going to be ok . . . the Lord is good and He knows what He is doing.”
I have seen him quietly struggle with financial stress . . . and never once complain. In fact, the financial stress was caused by him being too generous with others when he could not afford to be generous, but he did it anyway. He continues to do that . . .
I have seen him struggle with personal health issues . . . without complaint. He just continues on and does the best he can (and his best is really good).
I have seen him deal with racial discrimination directed at him . . . without complaint or becoming angry. The discrimination occurred in the work place . . . in an environment expected to be extremely sensitive about such foolishness. He could have found an attorney, asserted his rights, and really caused some serious action . . . but he did not. He just went on and did his job—quietly and efficiently. He simply left the judgments to the one true Judge.
Robert is a prime example that one can endure bitterness . . . without becoming bitter; can be confronted with ugliness . . . without behaving in an ugly manner. That good man has had to deal with much bitterness and ugliness in his lifetime; yet, there is not one ounce of bitterness in him, and there is never any ugliness in anything he does. He is always happy and encouraging and will always see something good in every situation.
For many years, Robert served as Pastor of several small West Texas churches. He would leave home early every Sunday morning and hold a number of services at various locations and then return home, exhausted, late that night. To my knowledge, he has pretty much always been a bi-vocational Pastor, as the churches could not support a full-time Pastor. In fact, I doubt that the financial support he received from the churches was ever enough to simply cover his fuel bills for his travels to the services, to perform funerals, to visit the sick, to make hospital visits, and the many other responsibilities of a Pastor. Of course, never a complaint from Robert over any of that . . . he just went on quietly about the Master’s business, delighted he had been called to serve. You can bet that good man will hear those precious words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant . . . Come, you who are blessed by my Father . . . and enter into your inheritance . . . the Kingdom prepared for you . . .”
I have known Robert for a long time . . . I have always known him to be The Real Deal. I wish many others could be more like Robert . . . I wish I was more like Robert.
Hey, Rev . . . I got your back.