I had one of those good phone calls recently. As a youth pastor, there are definitely phone calls you dread, Facebook statuses that make you cringe, and emails that get your heart racing. But, once in a blue moon, you get a really cool phone call that puts the other stuff into perspective.
A “kid” called me after me not hearing from him for ten years.
This was a kid that I always felt bittersweet about. In one sense, I was proud of the fact that I had invested in him, sharing the Gospel, sharing how to have a relationship with Jesus, etc. This was a kind-hearted kid who I’d spend a lot of time with, wrestling with life and faith. In another sense, though (and this is probably compounded by there being no social networking ten years ago), I was very sad that we had lost touch. He slipped out of my life when I was a young 24-year-old youth pastor, and I hadn’t talked to him since. Since then, I’ve moved to California from North Carolina. Seriously, what were the odds we’d ever talk again?
Yet it happened. And it was cool.
Reconnecting was fun. It was cool to hear that he was reconnecting to church because HIS KIDS (geez, am I getting this old?) were dragging him to church on Sunday morning. ”Daddy, we have to go to church!” Love it. It’s awesome to hear that he’s going to be getting into a small group where he can grow in his faith. Awesome, awesome, awesome.
I got to pray with him on the phone, knowing that this wouldn’t be the last conversation we have. It’s amazing to think that he is now a veteran dad (with an eight-year-old and a four-year-old, I think), and I have much to learn from him.
This “kid” (who is now 27-years-old and a dad!) reminded me that sometimes we need to realize that God is writing a story with our lives. And, yeah, sometimes there are some chapters that make us wonder what’s going on; but some of us with short-term gratification issues (most of us youth pastors and parents, more than likely) need to realize that there is a longer story that God is writing.
I’m excited to hear about this young man as he continues to grow in his faith and becomes an instrumental part of his children’s faith. His story encourages me when I’m discouraged. When students slip out the backdoor of the ministry I’m entrusted to lead, I have to remember that, for some people, it takes time– but God IS writing a story. And I’m sure that for parents who are struggling with a teenager who’s just not “feeling church” right now, it could be an encouragement too.
Sometimes things take time. Ten years maybe. Maybe more. In the end, though, the only thing that matters is a person’s relationship with Jesus Christ. This boy/man is back on track. Amen.