Three Goats and a Giant…
Yep, that was us about four months before Jesus became real for us. We were enjoying an especially harsh winter on our 80 acres, 15 miles west of Merrill, Wisconsin… no inside plumbing, no central heat. A run to town always included filling our fuel oil cans to feed the furnace in the kitchen. When our pump froze, we melted snow for doing dishes and bathing.
The goats are an important part of our story. We found them (and their mama) advertised in the weekly shopper that came in the mail. We drove across the county to meet them and take them home.
It’s also where we met the giant - the man who sold us the goats. His name was Ralph Imhoff. He was pastoring a GARB (General Association of Regular Baptists) Hiawatha mission church in Merrill. When we’d run into him in the Red Owl store (next to his church), I felt like I was talking to his belt buckle.
But he was a giant in our minds for a different reason. He talked to us about Jesus. He treated us like real people. He didn’t flinch when he saw us or turn green when we raised our objections and questions. It was especially intriguing to hear about Jesus’ sacrifice—complete and vicarious—for all. The idea of considering his work done and that we only need to embrace him and rest in his promise of eternal life… WOW!
Linda invited him and his wife to the farm one afternoon because she had some more questions. They didn’t hesitate. Linda gave her heart to Jesus before they left. I got to hear about it when I got home from my shift at the shoe factory.
After a short season, I had embraced the Gospel message for myself. No more than a few weeks went by before Linda and I felt like we had found what we were looking for—bedrock to build our lives on, an all-encompassing answer to everything, and a cause worthy of investing our lives in… worthy to risk dying for.
50 years ago today…
This was our story by the end of June, 1972 - I celebrate today because it still amazes me how the Lord found us. I tremble to think where I’d be if he hadn’t!
My deepest regret is how we lost track of the Imhoff family. I think they moved out of state not too long after. By August, 1973 we had moved away to study for ministry. I miss not having thanked them properly for their part in our lives.
One more reason to think home going will be sweet… rejoicing around our Savior… having an eternity to say all the things we should have said… and remembering why it doesn’t matter anymore.