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My Christian life: The sign maker

Through homemade signs he created, a man reflects on God’s blessings in his life.

Signs have become a part of our everyday life. The roadsides are filled with billboards on both sides of the highway. During this coronavirus pandemic, signs have popped up everywhere: “Temporarily closed,” “Face masks required,” “Maintain six-foot spacing.”

Over the years, I have created five signs that continue to be important to me. They reflect my values and say who I am. The first four were generated during my working days and hung in my office/cubicle. The signs served as a reminder of specific memories. Many times they allowed me to unwind while eating my lunch at work. The fifth sign will be my last.

Sign #1

I created my first sign after my oldest daughter’s wedding. It was a response to a weekend of lasting memories, which continue to this day. The sign reads: “My daughter’s wedding made me realize that I am the richest man in the world.”

There were times when the company was not giving out salary increases or the increase was not as large as I had hoped it would be. During the time of 9/11 and now during the virus crisis, everyone has been impacted financially. But we know and have the confidence that our loving Savior will take care of us; he knows our needs. As I look back, God’s plan of salvation for me had already made me the richest man in the world.

Sign #2

We all remember the days of raising our children. There were the days of frustration that your guidance seemed to go in one ear and out the other. Most days would go smoothly, and you were thankful. But by the time you thought you had parenting all figured out, things seemed to take a few steps backward.

This prompted me to make the sign, “I thank God for my family, ALMOST every day.”

The sign brought back many memories of those parenting days. I now can say that all our patience and prayers worked out. I am very proud of my family and thank God for them every day. The sign also allowed me to witness that I believe in God and talk to him daily in prayer.

Dick Techtmann with his daughters and his wife
Dick Techtmann walking his daughters down the aisle, displaying one of his homemade signs, and posing with his wife and son.

Sign #3

Back in the 1970s, I was involved on a building committee for a new church, classrooms, cafeteria, and gymnasium. By the grace of God, I was introduced to a man who became the most influential person in my life. He was blessed with the ability to do detailed pictorial wood carvings. He made the front panels for my church’s altar, pulpit, and baptismal font. His workshop was his kitchen, and his workbench was his kitchen table.

This individual had a birth defect and walked with the aid of walking supports that slipped on to his arms. I would stop by his house when he had questions. The first time I stopped, I found him in his garden, laying on a blanket on the ground and pulling weeds. His determination in his adversity has made a lasting impression on me.

It made me think, Maybe it’s not impossible. This thought encouraged me as I worked on my bachelor’s degree from the Milwaukee School of Engineering. It took nine years of night school while working full time.

It really encouraged me when I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) and faced many of the challenges my friend did. Most challenges involved maintaining one’s balance and walking without falling. Body fatigue is common, as are vision problems. To date, I have had a total of eight eye surgeries. I decided to make the sign, “Maybe it’s not impossible,” when faced with challenges of what I could or could not do.

Yet the challenges didn’t stop me. With the assistance of others, I again enjoy the outdoor sports I did in the past. Hunting is done from a blind, which generous and caring people have set up for me. I can spend up to 14 hours a day experiencing God’s creation. My sign has served me well for fishing on Lake Michigan, deer crossbow hunting, and spring turkey hunting. It gave me confidence to walk my daughters down the aisle. I try to mirror my friend’s positive attitude: to be optimistic, smile, and never complain. And people notice.

I have thanked God dozens of times for blessing me with MS. I believe it has improved my life as a Christian. I tend to pray more to my Savior, and I thank him more for answering my prayers. I thank him for all the earthly and spiritual blessings he has heaped on me and my family. The prayer that I say most often is verse 1 of hymn 478: “With the Lord begin your task; Jesus will direct it. For his aid and counsel ask; Jesus will perfect it. Ev’ry morn with Jesus rise, And when day is ended, In his name then close your eyes; Be to him commended.”

Whenever I’m about to do anything challenging, I start with this prayer. It could be trying to get up on my lawn tractor, getting my leg up and into the car, or trying to get up after a fall. When it appears that something will not be possible, the Scriptures remind me that God has provided me the strength to accomplish what I need to do.

Sign #4

The effects my friend had on me resulted in another sign. It reads: “I will start whining as soon as I find out that everyone has it better than me.” I had three close friends and a cousin who were diagnosed with cancer after I got MS, and they have all since passed away. Every day I see people in far worse situations than me. It may be at the VA hospital, stories on the news, or natural destructive events that people experience. I pray for them.

Sign #5

Less than two years ago my brother passed away unexpectedly. I realized that I needed to plan for when Jesus takes me home to heaven. My wife and I attended a funeral seminar and finalized all the details for our Christian funerals.

One thing that I decided on is a sermon topic and a summation of my life. I was able to condense my life to 12 words. It will be my final sign.

It reads: “I have sinned. Lord, forgive me. Lord, use me. Thank you, Jesus!” The last three words are inscribed on the door of our cemetery niche.

The Lord works in mysterious ways. Almost 20 years ago I started to make signs to remind myself of specific details and events in my life. Last year, the coronavirus epidemic unleashed a new wave of signs. With it also came the practice of stay and work at home. One day while looking for something to occupy my time, I pulled out a box I had brought home from work when I retired 12 years ago. There I found the signs that hung in my office.

Now God has given me an opportunity to tell the story of the signs of my life and to be able to witness for Christ. Thank you, Lord, for using me.

To God be the glory!

Author: Dick Techtmann
Volume 108, Number 3
Issue: March 2021

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This entry is part 28 of 51 in the series my christian life

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