Tribute to the Life of Laird Stuart
There we were! It was a wonderful afternoon. Laird, David and I were trolling along the edges of Stevenson Island on Yellowstone Lake. We were putting along, trolling ever so slowly, waiting for our fishing rods to bend with a snap as we saught to catch the ever-so-colorful Yellowstone cutthroat. The cuts were so plentiful in the lake in those days. Smoking cigars and speaking so freely and so honestly about our lives, about our challenges, about our ministries – about what we were up to in somehow serving God by serving people. That afternoon was just a bit over 40 years ago.
There before me that day was a man that I would come to respect and to love for the rest of his life. My deep respect for Laird came from many substantial conversations in which I would listen and learn about people and relationships and how to help people change. Laird was a very kind man. He spoke from his heart, but he always spoke gently, never pushing another idea or another person away.
I watched, I observed, and I tried my best to remember the way that Laird asked me to hear a different perspective, another way of thinking. He had a way of keeping me honest, of not drifting off to the left or to the right of an issue, but seeing it head-on as the present reality of my life. I will miss Laird for his care for me as long as I live.
From Laird I learned about some of the positives of being Presbyterian. He was never swayed by the different brands of Evangelical Christianity that would sometimes put blinders on redemption by thinking of it exclusively in terms of atonement. There is so much more to following Jesus than simply seeking the forgiveness of our sins. Laird could see the more. Laird kept me mindful of the broader sweep of God’s salvation that includes concern for our American society. This includes the importance of caution and kindness in the manner in which we related to people who may be different from us. And, he was a champion for seeing our world honestly from the perspective of human beings of all stripes who are suffering.
So it was never hard to see that Laird had a heart for the underprivileged, for the poor, for the needy, for those who suffered under the many forms of discrimination – racism, sexism, misogyny, homophobia, whatever else. In this he kept me mindful of the task of the Christian Community to stand against the tides of the politically correct. He could see the grander sweeps of God’s kingdom with a broader brush. So of course I will miss his voice as long as I live.
As the days and years ahead move on without Laird in our lives, in truth I will certainly miss him most for the way that he treated me. It’s a priceless gift to have a friend who cares deeply, who is never given to keeping score, who is never far away even when we are far away. It is a precious gift to have someone like Laird in our lives who asks questions only after he is listened for a while and offers guidance that gave me confidence to the decisions that I would make. For me that precious gift was Laird.
Floating along on Yellowstone Lake, certainly we never knew what the years before us would be like. How things would turn out for us, or against us, or how the challenges of our careers in ministry would play out. We never knew then how much we could mean to each other as these past forty years have moved along. From the sunrises of being young to the sunsets of growing old, Laird Stuart has been my friend. Now the sun has set on a wonderful man for God, a loving man for Gini, a charisma man for many, and a dearly loved man for me.
-Ron Nydam 12/30/18
A special thank you to those who honored Laird Stuart through your generous giving! A total of $2,705 has been given in his memory to further the ministry of ACMNP. Thank you to all who are listed below.
|Martha A. Erickson|
|Mary Kay Baker|
|Craig S. Wilson|
|C. Baars Bultman|
|James R. Coffey|
The Lord said, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”