One was a young, hip guy that we younger, less-hip guys wanted to be. He was smooth...calm...never too agitated...and cooler yet, he played the guitar & sang all of the cool worship/rock songs of the day. Larry Norman's still-awesome apocalyptic "I Wish We'd All Been Ready" and the like. He taught us youth Bible Study in various formats, including Sunday School and whatever we called our Wednesday night times. He made Christianity seem like fun. (What a concept, huh?)
The other was my parents' age, and yet he was the guy I wanted...want...to grow up to be. Dashingly handsome...muscular...hard-working...successful in his business. A man's man, in the best sense of that phrase. He taught jr. high Sunday School. He was the first Bible teacher I had who spoke of the reality of sin and of his own redemption from its penalty and from its power. I still remember how real he was as he spoke of his own past life (B.C.), and how he did so without glorifying himself or his past shortcomings. "Fellas, let me tell you something...people will tell you that sin's ugly & repulsive. That's a lie! Sin is fun while you're doing it; it's after, when you think on what you've done & how wrong it is that it becomes repulsive." Still remember that honesty. He, too, seemed to genuinely enjoy his faith, but also he made us feel like we were HUGELY important to him.
In fact, years after I passed through his orbit, I made an appt. w/ him to have breakfast. As I told him how very much he meant/means to me, this big, strong, manly, big game hunting, hard-working type broke down & cried right there in the restaurant. He said two things that will ever haunt me: first, he thanked me for making a point of telling him how his life mattered. That cut me to the quick, and made me resolve to tell folks who matter to me that, well, they matter to me! Do you encourage the encouragers in your life? Don't take for granted that they know; I sat & watched a man sob in gratitude as he was told--apparently for one of the few times--that his life mattered to another. Second, he cried again, and I can still hear the agony in his voice: "There are so many that I missed..."
That, my friends, is the heart of a minister. Oh, the guy I'm describing never was on staff at a church. He was in real estate development, mostly. But he had the heart of a minister. First, passionately seeking to impact the lives of others, whether they ever thanked him or not, and second, mourning over those he perceives that he missed ministering to...
Oh Lord, would you raise up more...many more...like Andy & Jim, these two who had such an impact on me? An impact that continues to this day, and whose impact was frankly slow to take root in my life.
And Lord, would you, in your marvelous, matchless grace, use me to impact others for you? Would you cause others to bless & magnify You & Your name because of what you do through me?
My sheep were scattered; they wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. My sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with none to search or seek for them...For thus says the Lord God: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land. And I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the ravines, and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them with good pasture, and on the mountain heights of Israel shall be their grazing land. There they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on rich pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel. I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord God. I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them in justice. And they shall know that I am the Lord their God with them, and that they, the house of Israel, are my people, declares the Lord God. And you are my sheep, human sheep of my pasture, and I am your God, declares the Lord God.”
Ezek 34 (various verses)
Sometimes, this prophecy is fulfilled via ordinary people. Andy & Jim are two that the Lord used to search me out & gather me in, and to plant seeds that would later take root. And I will always be grateful...