An Improver

folding ruler

When I look at this image, I quickly picture Dad’s hands pulling it from a pocket and measuring whatever it was that he was going to improve. Dad was an improver. That was his calling.

Improving soldiers in WWII

While a young man, Dad learned to be an electrician at Coyne Electrical School in Chicago – it’s still in business. Later, he became an instructor there, improving the lives of his students; teaching them a trade that was in high demand.  While in the army, during WWII, Dad taught soldiers how to use the newest technology, the teletype. He improved the military’s ability to communicate critical information and imparted to his students’ skills that they carried into the post-war economic boom.

Still later he became a professor, earned his doctorate, eventually becoming the chairperson of the School of Technology, at Indiana State University. His mission was to improve how to teach technology; and he always taught. Professors and students alike gained technical skills and life skills through his work. Eventually, a scholarship was created in his and my mother’s names.

Improving houses

Being an educator was never enough. Dad always improved whatever he touched. Growing up, as a family, we moved at least fifteen times, and Dad never stopped. Before he passed, he had remodeled more than twenty homes. At age eighty-four, improving the last house he would own, he built an entire bathroom which successfully passed the city’s building inspection.

Anyone that knew Dad, knew Dad. He was the same person, whether participating in the faculty senate, teaching in a classroom, or handing me this folding ruler. I remember who Dad was when I was young. Now that I’m old, I realize that few people are the same, always and in all settings. And in all his roles he found ways to improve the lives of those around him. My wife also has this rare gift.

Improving the people around him

Now Dad loved Jesus with all his heart. So, everyone knew that Dad was completely dedicated to serving Jesus, his Lord and Savior. There were no dirty jokes or crude words used around Dad, not because he forbade them, but people just felt guilty, sullied when they tried these worldly actions in Dad’s presence – I witnessed this first-hand, many times. Dad’s walk with Christ improved those around him

It’s true, this rickety old tool holds no value to anyone but me, and someday it will get tossed in a trash can. But, for now, when I want to see Dad’s hands, I reach for this folding ruler out and let my memories get the best of me.

Jesus the Creator

Though Dad was an improver, our Savior, Jesus, doesn’t improve things, He creates things. There’s an adage that says, “Jesus didn’t come to make bad people good. He came to make the dead alive!” This adage is true. None of us needed Jesus to help us be better. We all needed to be born again, born as a child of God, born with the Holy Spirit within us. (Romans 3:23) Better just isn’t good enough for God’s children.

This old, folding ruler helps me to see the hands of my dad, and someday, I’ll again see his hands because both he and I are true believers in Jesus. But before I seek to see Dad’s hands, I will seek to see Christ’s hands. I long to see His nail-scarred hands, to see the One who decided that better wasn’t good enough. Jesus “bought me” from death to life. He is the One I want to first see, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12)

I pray that each of us are improvers in whatever role God calls us to. But more than that, I pray that you have given your life to Jesus. Amen.

Photo by me 😀


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