Monday, September 28, 2009

A Meeting with Tom

This morning at the archery range I crossed paths with young man (let's call him Tom) who was doing community service. As we struck up a conversation (he did 90% of the talking), it  quickly became apparent that he was deeply troubled and had lived a very difficult 19 years.

After we said goodbye and I drove away, a few realities came to mind:
  • The importance of fathers. Tom blamed of his problems -- relationally, legally, educationally -- on the fact that his father walked out on him when he five years old. I listened as he shared how he planned to find his dad and let him know (perhaps violently) of all the pained he had caused. It was easy to see the huge hole that Tom had in his life that a father was supposed to fill.
  • A failure to take responsibility for your failures prevents you from moving forward. Tom blamed all of his problems on someone else -- never recognizing what he needed to do to change. This will likely result in a continued struggle to break free from his difficulties.
  • The image of God in every human being. During our brief time together, Tom shared a couple of raps with me that he had written. Although I can't repeat more than a few words in the either of them, his creativity was undeniable.
  • The disconnect for many between 'faith' and belief. From the questions I asked, Tom quickly discerned my occupation. When he did, he was quick to express his deep faith and knowledge of the Bible. However, the life that he described did not resemble in any way the 'new creation' that Paul describes in 2 Cor. 5.
  • There are lots of  hurting people who need us to love them deeply and find a way to reach them with the gospel. I don't need to elaborate on this.
  • There is no simple formula for leading someone to faith in Christ. I looked for a number of different openings to share the gospel with Tom, but I came to realize I would need many more meetings, a genuine relationship, and lots of prayer to in order to effectively do so. This isn't to say that seeing someone come to faith can't be quick and easy, but it doesn't seem to me that it is normally that way.
In the end, I prayed with Tom, told him about Bethel, and told him perhaps I would see him later this week. In the meantime, I have a lot to think about and consider. Perhaps we all do.

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About Me

I am a husband to Eva, father of 4, pastor, and most of all passionate follower of Jesus Christ. The focus of my life is to make the most of every opportunity God gives me to bring glory to Him. Outside of the time spent in my role as a pastor, I spend most of my time with my family -- a good deal of that coaching various sports teams that my children are involved with. Every fall and winter you will find me rushing to the woods of Indiana and West Virginia in search of a monster whitetail buck.