Everyday Encounter with God

Pastor Sylvia's Encounters with God in the Midst of Everyday Life


Remembering Roger

Some people enter your life without making a ripple. My friend Roger McMaster wasn’t one of those. He was a tsunami.

Whether he was meeting someone new or greeting an old friend, launching a new idea or persuasively supporting an old one, everyone knew when Roger arrived. I never saw him bring a bad mood with him.  

Oh, there were conflicts; Roger didn’t avoid controversy. His opinions were sometimes super-sized. But at the end of the day he made sure people knew that friendships matter more than even the most passionate topics.

Roger shook hands a lot.

After he left us Christmas Day, I spent a long time considering the lessons he taught me. There was in fact, one single theme that visibly permeated Roger’s life. The mantra he spoke of and lived to was this… If the world isn’t better for you being here, you’ve wasted your time.

Roger demonstrated that belief in four ways:

First, he served God. Everything he did grew from Roger’s understanding that God was always watching. Admittedly, there were things Roger didn’t understand. After all, God was… well, God. As such, beyond our complete understanding, frustratingly mysterious at times, but nonetheless deserving of our complete loyalty and obedience.

Anyone who preached at his church needed to be prepared to defend their sermon. If the chain of thought was missing a link, Roger pointed it out. If the scriptural references didn’t support the topic, Roger would suggest a humorous one to use instead. And if a sermon hit the mark, Roger stood up and ended the service with an exuberant hymn that lyrically reinforced the message. God was worshipped no matter what.

Second, he loved his wife. Diana provided both the ballast and the compass for Roger’s life. Without her, his diverse interests (beekeeping, old toilets, music, football, goats/turkeys/geese, an impressive collection of beer cans, and fifty-or-so more topics on which he was a relative expert) would have spun him in circles.

Diana grounded Roger, but even more, she completed him. Roger knew that and he adored her—not occasionally—he adored her all the time.

Third, he served his country. Roger was a true patriot. After graduating from West Point he became an Army Ranger; in 1994 he retired from the U.S. Army as a Major.  Not everyone is soldier material and he understood that, but you’d better not ever tell Roger McMaster you didn’t have time to vote!

Finally, Roger served his community. An astounding number of people know him because he was the EMT who responded to their medical call for help. Once a rather loosely-organized group, Roger was instrumental in rebuilding the volunteer fire department into a trained, responsive, and professional organization. He was their Fire Commissioner for 20 years.

People along the roads out of town know Roger because he showed up with a chain saw and cleared their driveways after a storm, or noticed they needed firewood when the power was out. Or because he and Diana appeared with food because they heard a family was hungry—not just on a holiday, on an ordinary day when most people would barely notice.

God. Family. Country. Community.

Roger challenged me by setting an example of faith in action. Now that he’s gone, I ask myself, “When it’s my turn to go up yonder, will the world be a better place because of how I used my time here?”

What about you? It’s not too late to make a difference.

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)