I was back at 12 Baskets shortly before 4:00. Stan came in right after I did. He sat down, ordered a glass of iced tea, and began talking.
“I don’t want to bore you with a lot about me, but I think it is important for you to get a handle on where I came from and how I got to where I am.”
“It’s up to you,” I said.
So he began. “I didn’t become a Christian until I was well into my adulthood.”
“I had attended church almost my entire life. As a child and teenager, I went to church with my mother just about every Sunday.”
“In spite of going to church for years” he continued, “none of it meant much to me. I don’t know if I just was not paying attention or what, but I do know that the truth of the gospel was never presented in a way that made me want to ask for a ticket.”
“Well,” I replied, “something obviously changed somewhere along the road. What was it?”
“When I was well into my career and we were living near San Francisco,” Stan replied, “my wife and I, with our two children, moved to a new neighborhood. Two doors away was a couple, Ray and Liz, who had tickets to Glory and were obedient in sharing the truth of Christianity.”
Continuing, he said, “My wife became a Christian before I did, but I remained open. My dear wife was encouraging without nagging.”
“Ray and Liz introduced us to the church they were involved with,” Stan added. “We began attending that church every Sunday, hearing excellent teaching the likes of which I had never heard before.”
“At some point, my wife said she was going to attend a five-year Bible study for women. She encouraged me to attend the men’s version that met on Monday nights. I knew virtually nothing about the Bible and thought it might be a good ‘academic exercise!’”
“Academic exercise?” I said. “I bet it turned out to be more than that.”
“You are right about that,” Stan replied, “but you are getting ahead of the story.”
“During this time,” Stan continued, “Liz, my dear neighbor, gave me a copy of the book, Born Again, written by Chuck Colson. It’s a fabulous book about his journey to Christianity.”
“I am a slow learner and a tough nut to crack,” Stan said with a smile. “After regularly attending an excellent church, reading the Colson book, and being in my third year of Bible study, I finally came to the realization that it’s all true. I made my decision to accept the free gift of salvation, and I got my ticket!”
“What happened after that?” I asked.
“I had a strong start in the beginning,” Stan replied, “but I didn’t really advance very far. It took me a long time, many years, to pursue seriously a growing relationship with God.”
“In spite of all of my best efforts,” he continued, “I simply could not develop having a daily time of being in touch with God. I had no doubt that such was essential for me so I would get to where God intended for me to be, but it just didn’t happen.”
“I eventually came to the conclusion that I did not have the right person to lead me and I was not mature enough to be led by the Holy Spirit.”
When Stan said that, I had no clue what he meant about the Holy Spirit, but I didn’t let on by asking him.
Continuing, Stan said, “I just didn’t have someone in my life who had been down the right road. Through the grace of God, He has led me brought people into my life to help. That is why I am spending so much of the time I have left on this side of eternity seeking to help others grow in their relationship with God. I was helped, and now it is my turn to help.”
Stan’s sincerity and obvious deep commitment to knowing God and seeking God’s will for his life led me to interrupt him by saying, “I would like to get into your appointment schedule to be able to have regular times with you.”
“Do you understand,” Stan asked, “that having the relationship with God that God wants is up to you, not me, and that I can only help, not make that relationship happen?”
“Yes, I understand,” I replied.
“How about each Wednesday morning at 8:30?”
“Can we do it more often than that?”
“Let’s start there and see what happens.”
“Where?” I asked.
“How about right here?”
“I will be here. Is there anything I should do before then to get ready for our meeting?
“I may have some ‘assignments’ for you later on, but for now I want you to do the most important thing you can do.”
“What’s that?” I asked.
“Pray,” was Stan’s one-word response. “Ask God to show you where He wants you to be and what He wants you to be doing before it is time for you to get on the train.”
With that, we parted and I began looking forward to next Wednesday.
The Jesus said to His disciples, “if anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” Matthew 16:24
Prayer: Thank you, Father, for your free gift of salvation through the finished work of Christ Jesus, resulting from His life, death, and resurrection. Thank you, too, that you want you and me to develop a personal relationship that only gets deeper the longer I pursue knowing you. Father, I need your help and your guidance. You know more about what I need than I do, so please move in me exactly as you want. Please open me to see, understand, receive, and embrace all you have for me. Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Things to think (and journal) about:
1. What is your biggest take-away from this devotional?
2. What does this devotional say about God and about us as His people?
3. What is God saying to you to do personally?
4. Who can you share this with to make a difference?
Comments, questions, suggestions, and the like can be addressed to The Storyteller at: firstname.lastname@example.org.