Retired lawyer Stuart McClendon isn’t spending his golden years “ceasing to work.” Instead, he’s building furniture and leading Bible studies at an Arkansas ranch.
Growing up, McClendon viewed church as a social engagement. He respected scripture, though he didn’t own a Bible. But when friends invited him and his wife, Lillian, to visit a church “where they taught the Bible,” he wasn’t sure what to expect. The pastor presented the gospel that day. It was the first time McClendon had heard that he was a sinner in need of a Savior. He was 26 years old—a young husband and father, a lawyer with a brief, failed political career. He was crying, but this was the best day of his life. “There was no struggle, no fighting,” he says.
Over the next five decades, the McClendons hosted Bible studies and retreats at their home near Covington, Louisiana. After building a shop on the land, McClendon took up furniture-making.
What began as a hobby became a successful business. Mostly, McClendon crafted swings and chairs from sunken cypress logs. He named the business Honey Rock, a reference to Psalm 81:16—“With honey from the rock I would satisfy you.”
Retirement age came and went. A friend invited the McClendons (then in their early 70s) to build a shop and a home on his property, a working ranch with an addiction recovery program. McClendon saw the offer as “the Lord [saying,] ‘I’ve got a place for you . . . where you can finish strong.’ And that’s what I want to do . . . finish strong.”
While moving their belongings to the Bar-J Ranch, in Calion, Arkansas, McClendon’s wife suffered a stroke and died. After this blow, someone in the ranch’s recovery program set fire to his cabin under construction. McClendon sat on the front porch of his shop, under the alpha and omega characters worked into the trim overhead, and drank coffee while his cabin burned down.
Despite those troubles, McClendon says he’s never regretted coming to the ranch. “God un-messes the mess,” he says. He shares the message in Bar-J’s recovery program and with his furniture customers.
McClendon leads morning Bible study on the ranch and teaches in churches in the evenings. He regularly repeats the good news that Jesus came to save the sinners He loves. McLendon says his ultimate purpose is to make disciples, not furniture.
Why? The God who makes fishermen “fishers of men” also uses all our earthly callings to further His eternal kingdom, for we are blessed to be a blessing to others.
Pray: For a heart to realize that “God un-messes the mess”; for more disciples of Christ to be willing to make disciples while doing the good work God has given them to do.