A Life Well-Lived And Loved: Lessons from the life of “Uncle Bob” Schneider October 13 2019
(Part of BCF’S blog series: “Society, Selflessness, and the Scriptures")
Please forgive the literary license in the title, but it is to make a point about the earthly life of Robert Schneider, former President of BCF, who passed from this earth into heaven on September 10, 2019. We have been privileged to minister with Uncle Bob since 1978, and to have him reside in our home and be part of our family since 1994. He would be the first to point out his own imperfections, but there are many lessons we can take away from the way he lived his life, or rather, the way he loved in life.
Saying that someone had “a life well-lived” could mean many different things. It could refer to how they made contributions to society or made a great discoveries. It might refer to someone who traveled all over the world, or who didn’t squander the talents he or she was given. It could refer to someone who put all of his or her energy into certain pursuits, or could simply refer to someone who was honest, fair, and paid his or her taxes.
If you have taken the Self-Confrontation course, you know that the orientation session involves taking “the love test,” based on 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. Uncle Bob was always excited about conducting the love test, as he saw the Holy Spirit penetrate the hearts of the students as they realized the implications of true, biblical love. He would acknowledge that the love test was a powerful reminder to himself, as well – especially “love is patient” and “love does not take into account a wrong suffered.” Toward the end of his life, Uncle Bob was constantly reminding us of how the Christian life comes down to two very simple things: loving God and loving others, just as Jesus reminded the lawyer “on these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:39) – simple to understand, but profound enough to require a lifetime to put into practice.
He would remind us that loving this way is radically different from the world’s way of life. It means not living for ourselves “but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf” ( 2 Corinthians 5:15). It means living like Jesus did, who “did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” It means being “imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma” (Ephesians 5:1-2). This would be God’s definition of “a life well-lived.”
In recognition of Uncle Bob’s retirement as BCF president, we gave him a little retirement party in March of this year and had a “this is your life!” theme. It was not so much to honor the man as it was to honor what God had done in and through the man. One of the remarkable things about his life that many people do not know is that he came from a very poor, broken family. Born in Minnesota, Uncle Bob’s parents were divorced when he was 13, and although his Catholic mom sent him and his brothers to church, from the sound of it, they rarely actually got there. The Schneider brothers were no altar boys. Bob became what he described as an agnostic.
To make a long story short, he married Gloria in 1952, and just a year into his marriage, his first child died shortly after birth. And this is how the Lord started getting his attention. In 1954, it came as a shock that Gloria was pregnant with twins, and Uncle Bob started to wonder what would happen to them, especially after the death of their first child. He was an agnostic at the time, but he started wondering things like: Do babies go to heaven?
He had also entered the military in 1954, and while stationed at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, began going to a Bible study with some fellow Army officers. His friends never got tired of answering all his questions. In fact, they even asked if he could teach the Bible study for a lesson, knowing that he was still searching and not yet a believer. He had some very loving and clever friends!
The study happened to be out of the book of Romans, and the Lord used that study in 1957 to finally convince Uncle Bob of the reality of Jesus Christ! Some years later, serving at the Pentagon, he came to know three other men, who with him became the core team to develop the first Self-Confrontation study notebook, with John Broger in the leadership. This led to the establishment of the Biblical Counseling Foundation in 1974, with John Broger becoming its first president.
Who would have imagined that, 45 years later, Uncle Bob would continue to be serving the Lord through BCF? He made sure to remind everyone that “there is no such thing as retirement in the Bible.” And what is particularly remarkable is how no one could ever have known how the Lord would take this scrawny, poor, pagan kid from Breckenridge, Minnesota, and mold him into an instrument to be used for Him in so many ways and so many places, and in the lives of thousands of people. But this is how God works, “who has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong … so that no man may boast before God” (I Corinthians1:27, 29). And we are certainly glad that He chose Uncle Bob for that ministry and that he became committed to it for more than half his earthly live.
The day of Uncle Bob’s death, while numerous people were at the house, Shashi asked our little three-year-old granddaughter if she could draw a picture of Uncle Bob going to heaven. She came back with a drawing in which you could clearly see not just one, but two figures. Shashi asked her to explain who the two figures were. As only a child could say, she responded with “This is Uncle Bob, and he is hugging God!” What a beautiful picture of God’s love and grace in Uncle Bob’s life.
We cannot all be Uncle Bobs, but all of us can love. Most of us live in relative obscurity, compared to Uncle Bob, but even in that obscurity, we can still, by God’s power, fulfill the two great commandments: love God and others. This is great hope for us, no matter where on the spectrum of being seen by others we fall. And of course, there is no obscurity in God’s sight. We thank all of you for the blessing and encouragement you have been to Uncle Bob and the ministry of BCF! And we thank you for the many testimonies that have come into the BCF office. You may keep sending them. We are compiling them into a book for the staff members to have as a memento.
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