“A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….”
Well, actually, it was in this galaxy; and it was in about 1975, so it was not really that long ago.
After high school, I worked for a few years before attending college. One of my old friends from school (Neil) happened to be in town one day in the summer of 1975, home from university. He happened to look me up, and happened to find me at home. When he unexpectedly knocked on my door, he found that I was a miserable mess, having recently experienced some severe interpersonal relationship distress.
The rest, as they say, is history.
The long and short of it is that he took the time to ask how I was, and to listen; to actually hear and to care. As we talked, he shared with me that he was able to rely on his relationship with God and the promises in His Word to get him through the challenges he faced in life. He asked me to read a Bible verse (Psalm 119:105, which ironically I had memorized as a child at vacation Bible school, and which verse I subsequently recognized when I dusted off my old Bible and sat down to read it that night). What’s more, he offered to get together with me to discuss this verse, and, throughout the summer, to answer any questions I might have about the Bible, and God, and, well, life.
In other words, he made himself available to be my friend. And He introduced me to his best friend: Jesus.
Recently, I reconnected with Neil online through a mutual friend. He later sent me an E-mail that he was traveling to Pittsburgh, and would have a one-hour layover in Minneapolis. I took a long lunch, and dashed to the airport so we could meet and catch up.* It was a BLAST, and a tremendous blessing for me. I hadn’t seen him since the end of the summer of 1975, when I left my home in Portland, to attend the University of Minnesota—there to begin my own faith journey, away from Neil’s care and input.
*As I approached the airport, a sign informed me that airport parking was full, and that I should park at the other terminal. That meant backtracking to the other airport, catching the LRT train to MSP, then taking the tram from the train station to the terminal, including dashing up three flights of stairs. I made it just in time.
Having now renewed a relationship with Neil, I think I have found a new friend, and that we will continue to share our love for our mutual best Friend. I rejoice that He brought us back together as only He can. We have each traveled a winding road which has once again brought us into contact. It is God who directs our steps, and He will sustain us through all that He has for us in life.
Paul wrote to the Corinthian church, chastening them after he heard about disputes among the believers who were comparing who had led them to faith, and whose faith was somehow better (1 Corinthians 3:4-9).
For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not mere men? What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth.
Neil was God’s faithful servant through whom I believed: Neil took the opportunity which God gave him to knock on my door, to listen, to love, to share truth, and to pour himself into my life. It wasn’t until decades later that he knew about any of the fruit God had borne in my life, and into the lives of others, nor how much he means to me. And now, through my ministry here at FaithSearch International, we all share in the planting, watering, pruning… which Neil began in my life, and which God continues to cause to grow, to His praise and glory. AMEN!