I have a story to tell…
It’s long but I promise it’s worth your time.
I tell it to more fully understand god’s grace in my life and to encourage those who read it.
A number of years ago I had a really difficult period of time in my life. It was a time when I felt most alone, unsure of my purpose and especially unsure of my accomplishments. I felt as if many of my efforts were useless and that I had a very small impact on an important community around me.
During this time I met a friend, for the sake of the story I will call him James. At the time I met him I didn’t always see James as a friend. It was a stage in my life where many of my friendships were blinded by the whole idea and mentality of servitude. I would approach relationships as a handyman, always looking to fix things or improve the relationship. As I focused so much on improving and serving I basically gave myself spiritual burnout.
(A quick side note: By no means am I saying service and reconciliation aren’t important in friendship because they are probably the greatest attributes to a good friendship. However, it’s easy to over analyze and counsel your friendships to death. I also believe it takes a lot of discipline to keep yourself from thinking your better than everyone else. A struggle with ability and humility that I continue to battle.)
James was different than many people I had met in my life. He was extremely quick with his mind and could usually talk himself out of any situation. He lacked motivation and direction but was quite capable of accomplishing any task set before him. He empathized well with people but lacked discernment of when jokes had gone too far. In many ways James reminded me of myself at a slightly younger age.
As I got to know James and began to spend more time with him I began to feel a draw to him. I can’t really explain it other than James and I just connected and got along really well. There were times however when James would literally drive me insane. The thing about James is he knew how to read people. He knew exactly what buttons to push and when to push them. James could push a man to the verge of violent retaliation and then quickly calm them back down in a matter of seconds as if it were a joke or it had never happened. It was really quite incredible.
This draw continued as time went on and when other relationships faded James and I continued to keep in touch. The friendship between James and I began to change over time. We grew deeper in what we knew about one another and what we talked about. James and I talked about things we struggled with, we wanted to improve in our different communities. There were many things about James that still would frustrate me (like his ability to push buttons and his lack of motivation) but my perspective of our relationship had shifted from a “leader/mentor” mentality to truly a real friendship. I prayed for James a lot and I began to focus on the reality of friendship instead of blinding myself by the thoughts of counseling a needy person in need back to health.
As time came closer and closer for me to leave on my trip to NZ I began to understand that I would really miss James when I was away. He had become a great friend and a person I really enjoyed to be around even despite making choices that I would’ve made differently. I had realized that James was growing and he was realizing what was important in his life and making changes accordingly. He was making mistakes but he was learning from them, something that can be difficult to watch. As I thought more about my absence I prayed for James a lot.
This week I got an email from James.
As I read it I began to cry.
In the letter he basically told me how thankful he was for our friendship. He was thankful for all the times that I had stuck with him and cared for him when he was making bad choices. James said that he wanted to follow my example with his friends (a truly humbling comment) and that he was just frustrated with all the times he cares for them and it goes unnoticed. With that frustration he had realized how much I had cared and he wanted to thank me.
I write this not to glorify myself in any way, believe me for the most part I had no idea that god was using me how he did. But, I write this story to say this one thing:
God will use you in ways you never thought possible. I am a terrible servant and he has still continued to use me despite my pride, arrogance, stupidity, naivety and laziness. I have been able to impact James’s life because God has given me the strength and grace to do so, simply because I believe.
Be encouraged… You may never know the impact you have on people but thats ok, because that impact isn’t for you to know. The work of a Christian isn’t to have an impact on people, change this world or your better your community but rather to serve Him who created and loves you. Repercussions of your service may result in those things but seek him first and take all results as incredible blessings.