A couple of months ago, I received an email from an old friend, Chuck. We grew up together in Baton Rouge and competed on the same YMCA gymnastics team for many years. Chuck went on to LSU on a gymnastics scholarship and then we only occasionally touched base after college. We recently reconnected, and he shared how the Lord had used me in the past in his life.
I was so very pleasantly surprised to receive the note below, as I have no memory of these discussions, but what an unexpected blessing this was for me.
I am so stoked about this phase of our lives. Each day I realize more and more how blessed I’ve been. I truly have had a “leg up” all along the way.
It started with my wonderful parents, then friends, then teammates (YMCA and LSU), my children, my career, and, without question, God’s greatest earthly gift of all, my wife, Susan.
I’ve had more than my share of great things happen to me. And the bad things … I have learned that God was doing things FOR me and not TO me. So, with God batting a thousand, why would I ever doubt Him in the midst of struggles?
Well, I’m human, primarily. So, when I don’t trust Him, I will take the liberty of beating myself up over it for a short while, ask for forgiveness, and then simply continue to enjoy the blessings.
A background we have spoken about previously: I was reared in a Catholic household. My story … my testimony, if you will … is not quite as spectacular as some.
I don’t remember, at any time in my life, not understanding the truth … who Jesus is, how he came to be, the story of Mary, why Jesus was here, that He died for my sins, and was risen to prepare a place for me.
I never had to be “convinced” as to the person or the fully God/Man nature of Jesus. I never had that moment where all this came together. I simply always knew it. Thank you Edwin and Carmen David, and my godfather, Buddy Champion.
Then college comes along. I encounter Walter Larimore (who I had known for ten years), and my cheerleader partner, Janet (a gymnast from the New Orleans YMCA and on LSU’s women’s team). You both asked me the EXACT same question … “Chuck, if you were to die tonight, would you go to heaven?” My answer, and the response, from both of you, was:
Chuck: Yes, I think so.
Walter: You think so? Are you sure?
Chuck: Yes, pretty sure?
Walter: Pretty sure? Well, you should be sure.
Chuck: I am…pretty sure.
Both of you. Really kind of funny, if you think about it. You both knew I knew. I just needed a nudge. No pressure. Just love and concern.
This movie brought me back to my childhood and those moments with you and Janet. And here I am, we are! Thank you Walter.
I’m so grateful to Chuck for sending this note. As I was reading and meditating on it, I was struck by the thought that all who are followers of Jesus likely have myriad events in our past where He used us, spoke through us, acted through us, loved others through us — where we were His hands and lips. And, I think He either doesn’t let us know what HE has done or said because He knows we’re likely to get the big head, or take credit for not only what He did in and through us … but what only HE can do in and through us.
So Chuck, thanks for letting me know. You’ve blessed me. And you and the Holy Spirit have reminded me of these truths:
Whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father (Colossians 3:17 NLT).
Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven (Matthew 5:14-16, MSG).
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