“Luther’s ‘Here I Stand!’”

A Tribute to Luther Svanoe

by Ron Ginther, a Cousin

Part I—What’s in a Name?

Choice destiny lies in a name

That shines above mere worldly fame.

Who cares about once great rock stars?

They now play gigs in roadside bars.

Reflect how Luther’s name so great

Could nudge him to a joyful fate!

Be careful then—don’t choose by whim—

A name means much, it proved for him.

Part II—Lute Loved to Hunt!

No chessman’s brain, no artist’s flair,

No college or a fine career—

No brilliance in what he could say,

He was himself, in his own way.

When “Lute” arrived, the last of sons,

His brothers starred, while he loved guns;

Hunting was his special joy,

On Plain View Farm he was pure boy.

Part III—Lute Stood for Truth and Right

One shining thing Lute did in Nam*

That bears repeat, like our Crossed Lamb.

We may forget most everything—

But some things stick like an old friend.

In every war not all runs right,

So officers need guiding Light.

Will they stand on rank and power,

On pedestals, like Caesar’s tower?

He could have thought, “It’s not my cause,”

But he chose truth (that should give pause).

How safe it is to compromise,

Or keep silent while justice cries!

Luther spoke for what was right,

An act that cast on him a blight.

Though they took his stripe and rank,

The other troops had him to thank.

Like his namesake with “Ninety Five,”**

Take up your hammer, if you’re alive!

Show red blood runs in your veins,

Not salve for bad conscience pains.

Part IV—Lute’s Compassionate Heart

There is a sin that’s worst of all,

It casts on man a dreadful pall--

Indifference to another’s pain,

A callousness which some think gain.

Christ told of a Samaritan

Who stopped and helped a robbed, hurt man.

More “godly” men had passed him by,

Their ears were closed to his weak cry.

Luther, though, helped out his friends

And did not shirk what oft offends;

His heart was quick to lend some aid,

And he cared not to be repaid.

Part V—His Love for Plain View Farm

In Lute’s heart too lay a compass—

Magnetically, it pulls on us!

To one place fondly his feet turned,

The Farm where love of Christ long burned.

When Lute was besieged by cancer

He ceased to roam, he could not wander.

He came straight to the old Homestead

Where Grandpa, Grandma, once kept his bed.

Among his loved ones, now at rest

His short life spent, his sun sunk west,

Lute listened to the children play

Where he, a boy, romped in his day.

Part VI—His Decision for Christ

But there’s a last choice made by him,

That all the angels and cherubim

Rejoiced to see him make one day,

When mother “Myrt” urged “yea or nay?”

She asked him if he would Christ take

As Lord and Savior for soul’s sake;

He did it then, and then expressed that

His best friend should take God’s Best.***

Part VII—His Tree Will Speak

Some tree or noble kind will go

On Plain View Farm, where it will grow.

It’s Luther’s tree, and it will tell

He stood for truth in wartime hell.

Enjoy its shade some sunny day,

You elderly, or young at play.

Lute’s tree has roots that go down deep—

Like heritage that we still reap.

*Luther Svanoe, while in the Army in Viet Nam, spoke for fellow troops in an issue with the officers, demonstrating “old-fashioned” manly courage and godly regard for the truth, though it cost him some rank and pay. **Rev. Martin Luther, the leader of the Protestant Reformation with his stand on God’s Word and “justification by faith alone”; for quite some time he stood virtually alone for the sake of the Gospel against a powerful, corrupt Roman Catholic hierarchy and its enslaving, debased theology of work’s righteousness and indulgences, declaring that he would not compromise his conscience or deny the truth, no matter what heresy they charged him with. Remember Martin Luther’s wife? She took the same valiant stand. How we need such men (and women) of God today!

***Luther’s mother lovingly challenged him to make his decision for Christ, and Lute said afterwards that he wanted his best friend who was present to take Christ too.

How about you? Will you wait till you lie on your death bed to accept God’s gift of salvation and strike up a saving relationship with God your Maker? Why not now, when you still have some moments of relative ease of mind to do so, free of the pressure of imminent death? None living this moment can count on another hour or day of life. A child will naturally, eagerly, seek a personal relationship with his parents, and that is who God is, our Divine Parent, our Father in heaven who created us to know and have fellowship with Him. Coming to Him through Christ, we are reconciled and forgiven of all our sins and we receive the gift of a new life in His kingdom. One’s name is deleted from the Book of Death and inscribed in the Book of Life. An eternal relationship is ours for the asking—but we must take a moment apart from other concerns and sincerely, solitarily, invite Christ into our hearts, the same Lord Jesus who clearly testified He is the only tenable bridge to our Father that can unite us. What could be more unnatural than to turn away from a loving Heavenly Parent who created us and sent His son to die like a criminal on a horrible Roman cross to make a way back to God for us? Yet, sadly, tragically, many millions carelessly or cavalierly do just that even after hearing this extremely good news! But don’t follow their example. Be among the sober-reflecting few to choose the now “politically incorrect” Narrow Gate of Faith in Jesus Christ, the same Cross-shadowed, Pilgrim’s way that Luther took shortly before it would have turned too late. Surely, if he could speak now to us: he would say emphatically, “The sooner the better!”

Psalm 102 may speak to you of Luther Svanoe’s life or anyone else who faces difficulties and afflictions, particularly in such verses as 1-7, & 23. Note the important thing, that the afflicted man in the Psalm was wise because he first turned to God, not to man in his trouble, just as Luther rejected fear of death and the usual expedients of hospitalization, chemotherapy, radical surgery, even his family's alternative homeopathic treatments, preferring to die in the care of his immediate family and then go to God.

Luther William Svanoe was born August 20, 1946 and died in 1995 at the age of 49, a humble and contrite man whose brave spirit Agent Orange and cancer could not crush. This poetic tribute is only an attempt to portray a part of his legacy, which is far greater than he himself probably imagined, for God says in the holy scriptures that He delights in a humble, contrite spirit and abhors the proud.

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