Just your average guy. At least that’s what he may have appeared to be to those who didn’t know him. To those who paid attention he was a caring husband, a loving father, and one of those people who simply showed up when he said he would and did what he said he would do.
He served on school boards and church councils. He farmed and worked hard. He served his country in the Korean War and upon his return from overseas married his sweetheart almost immediately. He attended hundreds if not thousands of athletic events and supported his children and grand children in whatever they did. And this past Monday he passed away.
Got the word Monday night that Dordt baseball coach Jeff Schouten’s dad Pete had died unexpectedly. Now, you have to understand there’s more than a passing connection here. Pete and my dad are about the same age. Jeff and I grew up a few miles apart, Jeff a little to my junior, near Ireton. Any time someone I know from that area dies I pause and this one hit me squarely between the eyes.
This was a man who without fail could be found at almost every athletic event Dordt hosted over the course of the year. The man bundled up on the lawn chair on the outfield side of the third base dugout at Open Space Park when no one else was there—that was him. It’s a position I think he probably took up when Jeff was playing shortstop for the Defenders and a spot he resumed when Jeff became an assistant and eventually the head coach. While I think he enjoyed athletics, I’ve got to believe he would have been in the crowd if Jeff were conducting the orchestra or directing a theater production.
That’s the thing about parents and kids. No matter how old you get, they are still mom and dad and you’re still their child. They still love and support you and that chain continues when you have your own children.
And that’s what I’ll remember–his love and support of his family and those around him and the fact that he was solid. Too often we fall in love with those who have the flash and don’t see the substance. Pete showed up. He was solid. You could count on him.
I’ve got to think that when you get to a certain age you start asking yourself if what you’re doing really matters. Does anyone see what you do and why you do it? Does anyone care? I say this because it’s happened to me recently. I hope it’s reassuring to the Schoutens that I know the answer in Pete’s life was yes, someone did notice. I started this by saying ordinary, average guy. As you can see, I think he was anything but ordinary and average and we have men and women all around us who are like this. We just have to take the time to notice.
Not that the pain is any less today. No, I refuse to romanticize death, and I can say with almost absolute certainty that a day won’t go by where Jeff and Liza won’t miss the man. But at this time of the year when we talk about giving thanks the reality of living and dying really hits home and giving thanks can get tough. But, as Christians, even though we hurt, we can rest in this reality: that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven
So, with that thought I leave you with this, the lyrics to one of the songs that has become a favorite to me and can bring tears to my eyes when I get to the final verse. Have a blessed holiday season.
In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
this Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
when fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
here in the love of Christ I stand.
In Christ alone! who took on flesh
Fulness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones he came to save:
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied –
For every sin on Him was laid;
Here in the death of Christ I live.
There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave he rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine –
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.
No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath.
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.