This is the fifth in a series to honor men who have been helpful by their examples.
I can’t remember when I first met Karl Kanowitz. It was sometime in the early 1990’s and he was simply doing what he always does – serving other people. In this case it was an adult Sunday School class I was attending. There wasn’t anything particularly special about him nor did we have a close relationship.
Then God gave us our Paul. For some reason, God put us on the hearts of the Kanowitz family. And while I’ve been emphasizing men this week, the kindness we received was definitely extended from their entire family to my little family.
The lesson I want to emphasize here is how much Karl practiced the discipline of understanding, as Pastor John has taught, when words are wind:
In grief and pain and despair people often say things they otherwise would not say. They paint reality with darker strokes than they will paint it tomorrow when the sun comes up. They sing in minor keys and talk as though that is the only music. They see clouds only and speak as if there were no sky. John Piper, When Words Are Wind, November 10, 1993.
I said some horrible things at his dining room table in the presence of his children. And I knew how to hurt people with my words. Even my attorney once said that I frightened him.
None of those words seemed to have that impact on Karl. Sometimes, I wasn’t even sure he had heard me and he certainly didn’t seem to feel the emotional explosiveness of the verbal grenades I was lobbing at him.
He just kept coming, and he kept coming with affection and confidence that God is good. He understood that there are ‘words on the wind.’
Again, from Pastor John:
These words are wind, or literally “for the wind.” They will be quickly blown away. There will come a turn in circumstances and the despairing person will waken from the dark night and regret hasty words.
It is tempting to assume that he saw something in us that confirmed God’s work in our lives, something to give him encouragement to persevere. That wasn’t the case. There was no evidence, for a season, that anything positive was happening. They prayed, and trusted God. And kept coming.
All my bitter, angry words frightened many people away, but not this man (or his entire family). And in fearing God more than me, God worked on me through him.
Eventually, God would open my eyes and I would see my sin and my need for a savior more clearly than I had ever known. But before that happened, he gave me a man who righteously feared the Lord and practiced a depth of wisdom that simply crushed my bitter rationalizations.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
all those who practice it have a good understanding.
His praise endures forever! Psalm 111:10
In God, whose word I praise,
in the Lord, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
What can man do to me? Psalm 56:10-11
You can hear more about what this family did for us and my regard for them in this video interview.