What Made Him Who He Was

[This is the fifth post on the life of Chester Tyra. Also see the previous posts: The Man Who Never Had a Bad Day, Think of the Difference You'd Make to the One Who Needs It, My Name is Daniel, and I was His Best Friend too, and FUN.]

In previous posts, I've written about how over the years of Chester's life, his habits added up to make him who he was. I very much want to have his habits of generosity, hospitality, joy, and fun in my life, and as I've thought about Chester's life, I’ve also noticed a connection between these those habits that may not seem apparent at first.

I really believe there’s one simple and profound reason that made it possible for Chester to bring so much joy and fun into people’s lives, for him to be so welcoming to me and others to come into his life, and for him to be so generous toward others: I honestly think that reason is, because perhaps more than anyone else I have ever known, Chester had a deep and genuine trust in God’s goodness toward him.

Chester was the man who never had a bad day. He knew before any day started that that day was going to be a good day, simply because he was alive. And he knew afterward that he’d never had a bad day, not because he was naive about anything happening, but because of a deeper level of trust that, regardless of what had happened in that day, things would be okay.

Trusting in God’s goodness to us opens the doors for us to be generous, because we don’t have to be concerned about not having enough of something once we realize that God is our provider. Chester could give generously to others, and welcome others so warmly into his life, because he knew that there is no reason to fear running out of the good things of life if we give them away to others. God’s goodness never ends, and therefore there is simply never any less left when we find ways to pass it on to others.

The 23rd Psalm ("The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not be in want...") is one that we often read together at funerals, and appropriately so. But even though it’s one of the most well-known and widely-loved passages of the Bible, I think that since we hear it so often in situations where people are hurting, we’ve come to think that it’s only a psalm about God helping us through our pain. There’s much more than that to it, though. It speaks in great imagery of God’s abundant generosity toward us, of how David was welcomed so warmly into God’s home, and how regardless of what the circumstances brought, he was able to enjoy life because of the way that he had always experienced and come to trust in God’s profound goodness toward him.

David had experienced repeatedly what Psalm 118 affirms in The Message: His love never quits. His love never quits. His love never quits. I can imagine David on the day that he wrote Psalm 23, perhaps waking up after spending the night hiding in a cave because of the people who were out to take his life without reason. Yet on that morning because of the steadfast love and goodness of God that he had always known, David could have awoken and and said to himself the same thing Chester would have said, “Today’s going to be a good day.” Because God’s love never quits. God’s goodness is inexhaustible. And even though he knew that day might be the last day of his life, he still had such a desire to express his gratitude to God for his unfailing goodness, that David began writing those words, “The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not be in want...”

Sometimes words can become so familiar to us that we can miss their meaning, so sometimes it is very helpful for us to encounter a passage of scripture in different words than the ones we're used to. The Message's wording of Psalm 23 helps us to see how God’s goodness is unlimited and spilling over in our lives. It helps us to know that God’s love never quits. And if you and I can allow these words to sink deeply enough into our souls, we will know something that both Chester Tyra and King David knew in a very central part of who they were: that God, his world, and our lives in it are utterly good.

Psalm 23 A David Psalm

1-3 God, my shepherd! I don't need a thing. You have bedded me down in lush meadows, you find me quiet pools to drink from. True to your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction.

4 Even when the way goes through Death Valley, I'm not afraid when you walk at my side. Your trusty shepherd's crook makes me feel secure.

5 You serve me a six-course dinner right in front of my enemies. You revive my drooping head; my cup brims with blessing.

6 Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life. I'm back home in the house of God for the rest of my life. (Psalm 23, The Message)