A genteel warrior has laid his sword-sharp pen aside. On January 22, 2012 Keith Miller split heaven wide open. Keith was a fresh soul; alive with passion. I remember fondly his honesty, counterintuitive common sense, vulnerability, intelligence, incisive insight, down-home winsomeness, humor and grace. I especially remember the grace. In the early 90’s I was the director of a national recovery organization. We often had Keith as a speaker at our conferences. He was always a favorite of those attending. When Keith was on a roll we laughed until we cried. I loved every contact with him.
Keith spoke at one of our conferences which was miserably attended. It was our first foray to the East Coast. We hosted the conference in a nice Boston hotel. As the conference concluded we realized we were broke. We could not pay the speakers who had travelled from across the country or the $30,000.00 hotel bill. It was my lot to explain to Keith and other speakers we could not pay their honorarium or even their expenses. Red faced, apologetic and struggling with deep insecurity and anxiety I told each speaker we could not pay them but would pay them as soon as we were able.
Keith’s reaction was to reassure me he understood. Without shaming me in any way he told me to pay him last. He took the time to personally encourage me. Then he hugged me. That is not all. When I returned to our Los Angeles offices with my tail between my legs wondering how we would ever pay what we owed, waiting on my desk was a donation from Keith Miller. Unbelievable! In recent years he and Andrea have supported our ministry to struggling pastors and their families. Thanks, Father for this gracious friend.
Besides being a sought after speaker, Keith and later, Keith and Andrea, wrote life changing Christian books. Keith’s first book, voted one of 100 books which changed the 20th century, has sold more than 2 million copies. This book, A Taste of New Wine, introduced the world to a heart of candor and to the refreshing new insights Keith courageously espoused. When almost no Christian Leader expressed openly his negative feelings to God, Keith blazed the trail for us to actually tell God the truth God already knew about us. This first book from Keith guides us to be authentic with God and each other. For me, personally, Keith left a legacy of genteel grace. Professionally I see him most as warroir for authenticity. He battled to be real and inspired us to be the same. His writing legacy is still with us. Thank God! You will find resources from the lips and pen of Keith here. At this link you will also find a 2 minute and 36 second sample of Keith’s refreshing speaking in which he urges us to be real instead of religious. It is classic Keith.
I could write endlessly regarding Keith’s books, his speaking and his life. Keith touched me, gave me priceless insight and fortified me to tell the truth. With unabashed courage Keith consistently just put his life and struggles out there. He lived out loud like no one I have ever met. Rather than writing more I invite you to read his Christmas Eve thoughts. This blog is on his and Andrea’s web site. It is titled, Christmas Eve. It will surprise you with its openness and warm your heart anew. Enjoy it by clicking here. One of the last pieces from Keith’s sharp pen is titled The Worst of Times and The Best of Times. It follows as it flowed from his heart. The quotes at the end were chosen by him or Andrea.
New Year 2012
My pitiful little self-centered mind is about half taken up with what my uncle called “the big C” (or malignant cancer) which is (though I have only seen evidence of it) pretty well eating away on my vital organs as you read this.
When I say it is the “best of times,” I’m referring to the fact that I’m clearer in my mind about the way I want to live and relate to those I know and love and whom God has put in my life.
This is the first time I could not negotiate any way out of my problem (cancer-ridden state). But I can still surrender each day—and sometimes each hour—to God and to loving His people—meaning the rest of you.
Although I have lived a larger-than-life life I am excited about the future. And I’m beginning to learn to share with people about the possibilities in their lives to use the creative potential in them.
Some days I am very sad about the terminal aspects of my illness, but I’m also very thankful for the eighty-four years of amazing life I’ve already been fortunate enough to live. Getting here on New Year’s Eve of 2011, I’m grateful for God’s resounding message about loving us (and the fact that so many of his people are living lives of self-limiting love) and for the fact that some days I am beginning to see that I can give and receive love from the God Jesus called Father and from his people who wander into our house to speak of love and gratitude to God.
Right now I’m peaceful. And I have a heart full of love for God, for those of you who are reading this as I wish you a glorious and peaceful new year in 2012.
Love from Andrea and me,
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – (Phil. 4:7) The Message
If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other. – Mother Teresa