Isn’t it funny how we define success? Often times we make our schedules and are just so certain we need to accomplish certain things or see certain people that if our agenda does not work out as we originally intended, we are discouraged and our goals or objectives were not met. Take today for example:
Don and I went to the Nationwide Arena to meet with one of the players. As it ended up, that player was not able to meet with us today so it was a wasted trip, right? Well, maybe not a wasted trip after all. Is it a wasted trip if we have significant conversations with three security officers we have been building relationships with for quite some time? One officer is having significant health issues and we pray with her nearly every time we go. We have met and prayed for her husband who was out of work and God answered prayer by supplying a job, right there at the arena. To God be the glory! I wonder if it was wasted as we handed out copies of Cedarville Universities latest magazine that Jeff Beste gave us plenty of copies to hand out since there was a significant article written about one of my ministry partners, Don Callan, and his influence on others. We were handing them out like candy to people we work with and you should have seen their eyes light up! Yes, even the TV commentators with whom we have built relationships, were appreciative and very interested in the article and the man behind the article. Yep, the assistant coach who is a believer said he would read it to put himself to sleep tonight (his way of saying, “I love you guys”).
I wonder if our agenda is always God’s agenda. This I know, all these people were not on our agenda but it seems to be God has a way of directing our paths in ways we cannot plan. The secret is, I like God’s agenda better than my own agenda anyway. It is a lot more fun.
Is it not ingrained into every individual the desire to make a difference in this world? It may not be the up front, standing in front of people with words that provoke action or illicit the emotions of being awed and inspired – although it may. It may be the person that finds great satisfaction knowing that because he or she is standing behind a drill press 10 hours a day, or sitting behind the wheel of a tractor or combine on a 400 acre farm or in a cubical crunching numbers or pounding out phone calls just has the pleasure knowing that what they are doing is making a difference in the world one task at a time. We were created to have purpose, drive and to know that what we do in this life has the purpose of making this world operate well.
Last week, I had the good pleasure of being on both ends of the spectrum. That is, I tried to be as faithful as one could be by standing in front of a team of football players (along with two others) and share with them the most important message that could possibly be told – the good news that God gave us a gift of eternal life if we accept Jesus as our Lord. Many received that message with open arms and willing hearts. But you know, even if they hadn’t God still would have given me the satisfaction in knowing that what we did made a difference because we were simply being faithful. It was a true pleasure just to be faithful to my heavenly Father. I will admit though that seeing results is rather uplifting to the inner spirits too.
Then to be able to speak to a group of men in Illinois at a State wide Men’s Retreat with people coming from as far north as Chicago and as far South as Ferguson, MS and share with them also the depths of scripture and hear from so many how moved they were also brought a good sense of satisfaction.
Next the tables were turned as I went further north to the place I still refer to as home. I was able to speak at the church where I grew up, from 5th grade on, and although I was speaking to them… it was only because they had already spoken to me. I stayed with long time friends Dan and JoAnne in their wonderful home and they fed me my favorite pizza and the worlds best fresh salsa. It was Dan though who took an interest in me as a teen and he spent so many hours at our house after he accepted Christ as a young adult. He was just with me and took me places and he just knew how to be a good friend. Next I went to church where through the door walked person after person who had built into my life as a young boy/man. It is humbling to say the least to watch those you so admire listen to the stories of how God has used me and is using me but to know they “know” the little kid I used to be. They know my faults and mishaps as a young person. They are my Sunday School teachers and youth group leaders. They are the ones I wanted to emulate and be like when I grew up.
Making a difference is the thing God has created us to do. Make it a practice to see who is in your sphere of influence and who you have the ability to make a difference in their lives. Also though, look around and take inventory of who is having an influence upon you. If you are like me, you might desire to slip a little “thank you” to them and let them know of the difference they are making in this world and most importantly, you.
After travelling to Geneseo Illinois yesterday, I now prepare to speak at the two places that have been most influential in my life, especially as a teenager. God use the people of Faith Baptist Church, my home church from 5th grade through high school, to befriend me, teach into me, encourage me and help me grow into the man I am today. He also used another place to mold me and that place was Camp Manitoumi. Today I travel down to camp to speak from the same platform that I heard so many other Godly men speak from as a young person. I am humbled and privileged to return to the place of so many childhood and young adult memories, experiences and the place where God grabbed my life and where I released everything I am and have to Him. I am truly looking forward to this short adventure and ask that God uses me in others lives that same way He used others in my life. Let’s roll!!