V. Flaw in His Life
It is important to any proper understanding of the grace of God in the life of His servant, Thomas Haire, that we do not think of him as a plaster saint or as a mystic dreamer far removed from the rough and downright world where we live. He has not fled the world to escape it; better than flight has been his deliverance from it while living in the midst of it.
I have wanted to be altogether fair in presenting this sketch. To eulogize at the expense of accuracy would be to defeat the very end I am trying to attain, namely, to show what God can do for a man if the man will but place himself in His hands. Were the object of this sketch a perfect man the effect would be to discourage us completely. The pale wax saint who never knew human imperfections could not inspire us to godliness. Even Christ had to be tempted in all points like as we are, and the high priests of the Temple must themselves be compassed with infirmity if they were to know how to have compassion on the ignorant and them that were out of the way.
It is my desire to present here both sides of the ledger, to show the credit side certainly, and then to exhibit the debit side to get a balanced picture.
Probably the best commentary on the life and character of God's Irish servant is to say that after two years of rather intimate acquaintance with him I am unable to dig up anything of any consequence to write on the debit side of his life. I have seen him in the most trying circumstances, undergoing tests that would have tried the character of an angel, and I have not in one single instance seen him act otherwise than like a Christian.
It was the doctrine of the Wesleyan theologians that a man can be perfected in love and yet be imperfect in other phases of his life, that perfect love does not necessarily imply perfect judgment. Tom Haire appears to me to be a fine proof of the truth of this doctrine. His glowing love for God and men, his utter devotion to prayer and praise, have yet left him open to errors of judgment much as any of us. He is the first one to mention this, and is keenly aware of the necessity to lean hard on God that he may be saved from serious mistakes.
For instance, Tom is much more generous with his affections than I could feel free to be, but in the light of the practices of godly men and women of the past and the admonitions of the Scriptures concerning the holy kiss, he may be right and I wrong. It is not uncommon to see him greet a Christian brother with an old-fashioned hug and kiss. Some might list this as a fault, but if so, it cannot be too serious, and getting kissed by Brother Tom is like being caressed by all your godly ancestors at once.
I have also known Tom to fall asleep during some of his prolonged seasons of prayer. William T. MacArthur used to say that under certain circumstances the most religious thing a man could do was to go to sleep, and I have no doubt that Tom's occasional cat nap while stretched before the Lord in the long night watches may be God's merciful provision for His servant's health. Once while trying to stay through an all-night season of prayer with him and a few others I learned by experience what such praying costs. Sometime after midnight I petered out and slipped off to my study for a snooze. At eight o'clock the next morning I waked to hear Tom leaving the church. He had lasted out the night and I, though much younger than he, had surrendered to the sandman long before!
It is only fair to say, too, that Tom is sometimes capable of prejudice that is something less than scholarly. He insists, for instance, that the King James Version of the Scriptures is the only proper one for a Christian to read. "I know it is only a translation," he argues, "but God breathed on the translators as He did on no others, and thus preserved them from error. Of course," he adds meditatively, "they did call the Holy Spirit 'it' in the eighth chapter of Romans. But that was just a mistake." There you have it. The translators were divinely preserved from error, but they made a mistake! That comes perilously near to being an Irish bull, but if one is to be committed, who could better qualify for it than the man from County Antrim, Ireland?
Sometimes also Tom can become very much of a tease. He particularly loves to josh his American friends about the inferiority of all things American to everything Irish. After his accident at the hotel fire in Chicago I went to see him often. He lay cruelly crushed by the long fall to the concrete pavement. His hip and thigh were fractured, his back broken in several places and one of his hands burned severely. He lay in what must have been harsh, grinding pain. To afford what assurance I could I bent close to his ear and told him that we had secured for him one of the best orthopedic surgeons obtainable. For all his great pain he managed a sly grin. "Ye mean he is one of the bust in Amurica," he whispered, "but don't forget, we have butter ones in Ireland."
Tom is not a finished speaker by any means, but in an average message he manages to throw off so many sparks of real inspiration that his hearers forget everything but the wonder of the truth he is proclaiming. His messages tend to be circular, that is, they travel around to the same thought again and again. He reminds me of the advice given to a young preacher to the effect that if he was going to harp on one string he should make that string a humdinger! Tom's string is love, fastened between the two pegs of faith and prayer. And that string is so long and so vibrant that it is seldom monotonous to listen to no matter how many times you hear it.
In my effort to escape the charge of writing an extravagant panegyric I have combed through my knowledge of Tom Haire to try to find some flaw in his godly life. The fact that I could discover no more than is mentioned here is probably a finer commendation than the most eloquent eulogium could ever be.
From THE PRAYING PLUMBER OF LISBURN - A Sketch of God's Dealings with Thomas Haire by A. W. TOZER. Published in 1954 in The Alliance Weekly magazine. It has been explicitly authorized by the Alliance Life editors to be made available free online. The only stipulations are: 1) The work may only be made available for FREE. 2) The following citation must appear: Originally published in the Alliance Weekly (now Alliance Life) January 6, 13, and 20, 1954. Used by permission. Creative Commons license: Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0.
Insights of the past for the present
Plumber of Lisburn - A.W. Tozer
ON THE BOOK SHELF
May your insights be worthy.