This is a bit long, but this is a recap of a series of events where I really felt God’s hand.
This is just a recap of what happened in my life June 8, 2007 through June 10, 2007. It is funny how God will touch a person and use him to make a difference in someone else’s life. Funny may not be the right word, but in any event, here is my story.
It all started on the evening of June 8, 2007 (actually long before, since the invites were sent long ago). My family and I were invited to a weekend of activities related to my wife’s former boss, Curt. On Friday night, we had a surprise birthday party for him. Saturday was a tour of his new office and labs, followed by picnic at a nearby park, and then dinner at a hotel on the Plaza. Sunday was a quick brunch. This was the plan. This was how I thought the weekend would progress. But, this is what happened.
On Friday night my family and I did make it to the surprise birthday party for Curt. At some point in the evening, Sean, a friend of mine and someone I met through my wife, went upstairs and talked about our fund raising efforts for Sunflowers to Roses. (Sunflower to Roses is a local non-profit benefiting KU Cancer Center, Cancer Action, and the Lance Armstrong Foundation where Sean is the co-founder and I am now a board member.) Then, as the evening started to wind down, Sean asked if I would like to go to his Saturday morning men’s group at his church (this was the start of this wonderful trip). He recently went to Kenya on a mission trip and was going to talk about the trip to those attending on Saturday. Afterward he thought that we could head out for a bike ride with his son Ryan. “Sure, why not,” I thought. It sounds like fun.
Saturday morning, I headed over to Sean’s church and listened to his story and how he was impacted by the trip and also what he missed spiritually (more on this later). He explained to the group he was worried about leaving his family for such a long time, but how God worked through another couple on a plane trip to Texas to help him realize that he was meant to bring his 13 year old son along. Then when he phoned his wife, Lisa, to tell her the news, she said she already knew her son was going – she knew after a bible study class she attended two days prior. Sean talked about someone in Kenya stealing his blackberry right out of the car he was riding in and how upset he was (he is addicted to constant communication on his blackberry device). Then as he thought about it, he realized that this was a good thing. He could concentrate on the purpose of his mission trip rather than being tethered to his job and emails. There are so many more details about the morning, but I don’t want this to turn into a book so I will move along.
Fast forward, Sean, Ryan and I head out on a bike ride prior to going to the afternoon picnic noted above. We finish around 11:15, and the picnic was at 11:30. I have an injured knee from a previous accident, and it began to stiffen up (more on this later). I call my wife to check on things, and she tells me that she was thinking about not going to the picnic. Instead, she wanted all of us to just go to the evening event. With that in mind, we went out for lunch. On the way back from the restaurant, we pick up our van from the shop (brake job), and I got a haircut (all of this is not relevant to the story really, but adds the personal touch – now me smiling). Back to the story at hand, on my way home from my haircut, I stopped by and visited with a neighbor and friend of mine, Ted. As I talked to him about my weekend and what I had heard that morning regarding Sean’s Kenya trip, Ted told me that I am the answer to one of his prayers. He has been thinking about going on a mission trip to Kenya. A friend of his has a trip planned for July, but he has been praying for a trip in September. This September is the second trip that Sean’s church’s has planned to go back to Kenya. (Wow…) And then Ted and I talked about how Sean felt cheated in a way because Kenya is already primarily a Christian country – Sean thought the trip was going to be more of a witness to people who did not know God – who did not know Jesus. Ted suggested that I tell Sean to read 2 Timothy chapter 2. Many more things were discussed, including an upcoming concert, church, and just life in general, but wow.
Fast forward through to Saturday evening. Sean reminds me about the 8:00 am ride on Sunday. This ride is to check out the route for the Sunflowers to Roses ride coming up August 19th. I said I will be there most likely but my knee is hurting even after our short ride today. Privately I am thinking I really am not sure I can make it, but plan to give it a whirl.
Fast forward to Sunday morning. Rain…rain… rain. Pain…pain…pain. I realize that with my knee throbbing, and rain coming down, I need to forgo the bike ride. Instead I head off to church with my daughters. (We have been looking for a new church lately, but always seem to be drawn to the same church, Westside Family Church in Lenexa, Kansas.) While we are waiting for the service to begin, I tell my girls about the series of events that had happen – God’s series of events. This ranged from Sean’s presentation on his mission trip to Kenya, to the series of events that lead me to talk with Ted. My younger daughter kept saying, “Stop, you are freaking me out!” But, she was seeing first hand the way God can use one person to relay a message to another. The way a series of simple, ordinary events can lead to something truly amazing. As I was telling them the story, my whole body was tingling. To top off the story, there was even a slide appearing on the PowerPoint screens in our church talking about mission trips. Then as a way to put a cap on the weekend, the service was titled “Shorts. Life-changing stories from Jesus.” The basic point – how God uses us to help others. My daughters’ response, “Wow!” My response, “Thank you!”
I honestly would have gone up front that day, if I were asked, to tell this story. To tell everyone present how God does work through people. What I thought originally was a series of random events turned out to be much more:
I saw Sean Friday evening for a reason.
- I heard about his mission trip on Saturday morning.
- I rode my bike with Sean and his son Saturday morning, and inflamed my knee.
- I didn’t go to the picnic Saturday afternoon; rather I ended up talking with Ted instead.
- It rained Sunday morning, and my knee was still hurting from the previous day’s ride, so I went to Church.
- While sitting in church waiting for the start of our services, I told my daughters about the last 2 days and how I thought that God used me to communicate for someone else’s need and to help fulfill someone else’s desire.
- The sermon was a way to reaffirm to my daughters (and me) how this can actually happen to anyone.
Now to finish the story (or start it). Regarding Sean’s blackberry story – Ted asked me this weekend if I was going on a mission trip. I told him that I need to lose MY “blackberry” first before I am ready. For me, my “blackberry” is a couple of things that I feel I must do before I go. If I don’t do these, I will be tethered to those thoughts the entire time I am on the trip and not be able to fully commit myself to the mission trip. I need to lose my “blackberry.” Once I do, there won’t be anything left standing in the way.
In conclusion, I can tell you that this story is actually much longer. There are so many more connections and branches to it. For the benefit of those who are reading this, I thought that the readers digest version was worth writing rather than the novel version (yes, this is the reader’s digest version). I feel I have been touched this weekend in a very special way. As I said in the beginning, I have been used, and how wonderful it is to be used. When something like this happens, pay attention to it, absorb it, and enjoy the ride.