Charles Swindoll tells the story: “Back in 1958 when I was a young Marine stationed on the island of Okinawa. I become closely associated with a man I deeply admired. His name was Bob Newkirk. I didn’t know what it was exactly that first drew me to Bob. More than anything, I guess, there was something unpretentious about him. He was devoted to the things of the Lord, no question, but it was never on parade, never for the purpose of public display. And I loved that. Perhaps it was his balanced Christian life that I admired most. He was serving back then with the Navigators, an international Christian organisation committed to ministering to military personnel. However, he never tried to squeeze me into some Navigator mould. I liked that especially. When we worked, we worked hard, but when we played, we had first class blast. I never got the idea that Bob was interested in making big impressions on me or other people. He was what he was, plain and simple – far from perfect, but authentic. Real.
I remember dropping by his home late one rainy evening to pay an unexpected visit. His wife met me at the door and informed me that he was not at home. She added, “You’ve probably noticed lately that he has been under some stress. I think he may be down at his office. I’m not really sure. but he told me he just wanted to be alone.”
I decided to try the office, a little spot down in Naha. I caught the three-wheeled jitney that took me from the village where the Newkirks lived down to the capital city of the island. It was still raining lighlty, so I stepped around and over puddles as I made my way down a street, across an alley, then another alley until I came upon his unassuming, modest office. Before I arrived, however, I could hear singing in the distance – it was Bob’s voice; I’d know it anywhere. I stood outside in the rain for a few minutes listening. The simply hymn continued, I confess, I peeked in the window and saw a candle on a table, my firend on his knees, and not another sould around. He was spending time with the Lord…all alone. As I stood outside, the soft falling rain dripping off my nose and ears, my eyes filled with tears of gratitude. Bob never knew I came by that evening, but without his knowing it, I got a glimpse of authentic Christianity that night. Not piety on parade, not spiritual showtime, but a man “in the shelter of the most high”.
You don’t have to perform – simply worship.