Ha! I'll bet you thought this was going to be a story about my favorite 80's rock band, didn't you? Nope. Well, maybe. If you're good. No, this story is really about you. It's about the journey that each of us is on, right now. A journey of faith. A journey of hope. And a journey . . . of love. God's love.
I'm going to tell you a story of three people. Well, two people really. One of them is me so that doesn't really count. But in each person's life there is faith, hope and love. All the stories are intertwined, like a triple-braided chord of sorts. And that chord was woven together by God. The story is about His amazing love and how "He works all things together for the good of those who love Him." (Romans 8:28)
The first character in today's story is a man named Paul. His journey of faith took him from a very small logging town in Montana to a bigger, yet still small town, named Waupaca (where I met him). Ultimately his journey led him to pastor a church plant in the Milwaukee area where he is today. A godly husband and father, Paul is a living picture of the many blessings that God can bring to those who love him, those who are obedient and live to seek His will. He is also a willing vessel, offering himself to God years ago, to be used wherever and whenever God wills.
The second character is a 20-year old young lady named Brooke. A friend invited her to youth group one night several years ago. She came not knowing what to expect. She left feeling loved and saved.
The third character is me. I don't have much to do with this story other than as a witness. Perhaps my role is as a story-teller - about journeys, about faith, and about an incredible God who brings people together for His glory.
At the time our story began Paul was the lead pastor at our church. I was a volunteer youth leader and Brooke was a face in the crowd. I had known Brooke only for a few weeks when Paul just "happened" to come to visit the youth group one night. He loves talking to people so it wasn't unusual to see him talking to this skinny, blonde-haired kid named Brooke. He talked with her all evening, and I mean he was extremely focused and in a very good way! By the end of the night Paul had prayed with Brooke as she surrendered her life to Jesus and we both had a brand new sister!
Paul eventually left our church, starting a brand new one in the Milwaukee area. It has grown in just a few short years from zero members into a church that worships 1600 per week. Brooke graduated high school two years ago and left the youth group. She is currently trying to get her life started, living in a small apartment in downtown Waupaca. And me? I write a blog. And I love people.
The point of all this is to show you an example of how people's lives can be interwined. Sometimes its for a season, sometimes it's longer. Sometimes it's just for a few hours on a Wednesday night, but people come together, often for a specific reason. Brooke came to youth group one night and met Paul . . . for a reason. A life-saving reason. A God-orchestrated reason.
Who are the significant people in your life? Are there certain ones who have really made an impact? Perhaps some have challenged YOU in some way. If so, did things ultimately work out for the better?
We are called to be ready to give a reason for the hope that we have (1 Peter 3:15). But are we really ready? What if we meet the next person on our faith journey and ignore them? What then? Or how about this. What if we looked at that "new person" in our life as a potential life changing person. Would we be more engaging towards them, hoping to find our what God has in store for us? Or them?
"Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." - Romans 5:1-5
Let us be ever watchful as we walk through this world. Let us pray for opportunities. Pray for awareness and openness. And let us pray that God might bless us through our relationships, that we might draw closer to one another through our drawing closer to God. And may our journeys be ever-fruitful. May it's paths be made straight, neither turning to the right nor to the left. And let us always make way for the Lord. And whatever you do, don't . . . stop . . . believing.
Don't Stop Believin' by Journey