I was three years old when I met him. He was thirty-six. Yet he always had time.
When i had no sense of self esteem and my parents couldn’t afford to fly me to anything. He called me and said, “I sure miss you buddy. I am the bus driver for the Alaska District Council this year. I drive all over Fairbanks and my arm is so sore from opening the bus door. I have an airline ticket waiting for you at Wein Air Alaska. When you get here in the morning, will you be my Official Bus Door Captain?”
I was fifteen and needed to learn how to be gainfully employed. He hired me and infused into me a knowledge of the construction trades.
I needed to pay my way through Bible School to become a minister of the Gospel. He gave me summer employment.
When my parents divorced, and everyone had an opinion on who was to blame, he knew a young adult boy was hurting (and didn’t care whose fault it was) and he traveled all the way to Anchorage, Alaska to give me a hug and we simply cried together. For a long time we just cried.
For many years my favorite words in the English language were, “Pastor Rutledge is coming to our house for a visit.”
No, I think that isn’t the whole truth. My favorite words were when Pastor Rutledge would put his strong, construction hardened arms around my shoulders and say, “Son, I am proud of the life you and God are building together.”
Today, as I write my thoughts, I feel the tears spilling over my eyelids.
Maybe on August 2, 2012 Father God said to the heavenly host, “Pastor Rutledge is coming to our home today.”
When he arrived I think Father God put his arms around Dick and said, “Son, I am proud of the life you and I built together.”