Let me first say the picture of four koala bears has absolutely nothing to do with today's blog. It's just a cure pic that I found in my travels so I thought I'd share it here....ok, onward.
Its not often that I completely misjudged why a given person is in my life but from time to time it happens. I believe it is critical we learn how to discern people.
Making a snap judgement can be a bad thing too as God often puts something we need in someone who rubs us the wrong way. Cmon, you know I'm telling the truth in that.
When I was 15 I met a guy at my church who creeped me out. Dressed in leather, shady looking mustache, riding a big motorcycle, rock music blaring... all the things my ulta virgin upbringing taught me to be leary of, this guy was to be avoided for sure. Imagine my surprise when my youth pastor said he wanted to introduce me to someone ..and you guessed it.. it was him.
Mark, meet Jeff. Jeff owns a local pizza shop and has recently given his heart to Jesus. Suddenly I felt like stepped in doggie doo. With all my fast judgments I was the one who should have been wearing black.
Jeff and I get talking and he ended up hiring me away from a job I hated so I suddenly found myself working at his pizza shop. I started to deliver and made what at that time seemed to be huge money. It blessed me tremendously over the next few years until I eventually made my way full time into radio. Jeff ended up being a fairly strong influence on me for the cause of Christ in the few years I worked with him and we often talked about the bible and God's forgiveness. He always had some story about his past and how God had saved him from it.
On Friday nights Jeff would regularly bring out dozens of free pizzas to all of us working at the radio station and refused to take a dime for them. He was a giver and a blessing to everyone he was around at that time. He was a living example of how radically a heart can be transformed by the Love of Jesus.
Jeff and I talked for the last time in 2011 and a couple of years later in 2013 I learned that Jeff had fallen back into some old habits and ended up going home to be with the Lord. As I reflected on thoughts and memories with my old friend, my sadness at his passing lifts as the bigger picture of seeing him again comes into focus. Many people I once knew have passed on now and as time continues on, I'm sure that will just continue.
In all of that the Lord showed me that some thirty years ago now a fifteen year old teen ager stood judging someone who didnt look like he fit in... and how God used that stranger to provide years of provision and decades of friendship afterwards. How many times do we inadvertently miss a blessing because we don't like the package that it comes in? How many prayers go unanswered as God brings the people into our paths to help us but we don't discern the real reason they are there? Always be careful to look at the character and not the politics, dress or even the religious views. God has people everywhere and He can use people to bless you that don't even realize that they are blessing you.
I will always miss my friend, Jeff but the lesson of not being too quick to dismiss someone else based on how they look will be with me for the rest of my life.
I will see Jeff again someday and on that day Jesus will be the one handing out the free food as He reminds us all that the price is already paid for it all, just like Jeff used to do for us at the radio station. Until then, my efforts will continue to be advancing the Kingdom and be a blessing o whomever will discern and receive me. How about making a fresh commitment today to do the same?
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