Almost every morning you’ll find me at Starbucks, drinking my coffee, socializing with the coffee crew…. Some afternoons you’ll find me there too, uh OK evenings, Christmas Eve, and at least twice on my birthday, etc. I’m hooked, I’m addicted, they know me by my drink, not by my name, blah, blah, blah! Gold Card carrying member here so show some respect!
Actually Friday morning I was sitting in Starbucks and I saw a familiar face….. I was on the phone, making some sales calls, so I wasn’t sure he even noticed me, but a few minutes later he came up behind me and we strummed up the typical “guy code” conversation. We are both in sales, both have kids, know a lot of the same people, so the conversation is filled with familiar things…. Then I asked him the one question that he asked me several years ago, “How’s church?” Ya see this guy asked me that question way back when, at a time when I was not a church goer. He asked me that knowing I wasn’t a church goer, and he probably knew I would go to his church if he asked me, just to satisfy his need of wanting me to go there. So…. I went; it was my first contemporary church experience and I hated it. My skin crawled the entire time and I couldn’t get outta there quick enough. I’ve now been at my church for over five (5) years and I’d say it’s one of the most successful contemporary churches in our area. Go figure! God will lead you to places that you otherwise would not go on your own. To make a long story short, what he said to me was exactly how I felt all those years ago. He had been emotionally hurt by the church and he had separated from the place he called home for all those years. As he sat there telling me how he and his family had been searching through all these churches looking for that “church home,” including my own church, I realized how fortunate I am to call my church home. As he walked away, I knew exactly where he was in his faith walk, I had been there, he had prayed for me the same way I was now going to be praying for him.
Seeing an old friend reminded me of this story….. Although not as deep as this, but I certainly think we can all relate.
One day, Mark, a freshman in high school, saw a kid from his class walking home from school. His name was Kyle. It looked like he was carrying all of his books. Mark thought to himself, “Why would anyone bring home all his books on a Friday? He must really be a nerd.” Mark had quite a weekend planned (parties and a football game with a friend the next afternoon), so he shrugged his shoulders and went on. As Mark was walking, he saw a bunch of kids running toward Kyle. They ran at Kyle, knocking all his books out of his arms and tripping him so he landed in the dirt. Kyle’s glasses went flying, and Mark saw them land in the grass about ten feet from him. Kyle looked up and Mark saw this terrible sadness in his eyes. Mark’s heart went out to Kyle. So, Mark jogged over to Kyle as he crawled around looking for his glasses, and Mark saw a tear in Kyle’s eye.
As Mark handed Kyle his glasses, Mark said, “Those guys are jerks. They really should get lives.” Kyle looked at Mark and said, “Hey thanks!” There was a big smile on Kyle’s face. It was one of those smiles that showed real gratitude.
Mark helped Kyle pick up his books, and asked him where he lived. As it turned out, Kyle lived near Mark, so he asked Kyle why he had never seen him before. Kyle said he had gone to private school before now. Mark thought that he would have never hung out with a private school kid before.
They talked all the way home, as Mark carried Kyle’s books the entire way. Kyle turned out to be a pretty cool kid. Mark asked him if he wanted to play football on Saturday with him and his friends. Kyle said yes. They hung out all weekend and the more Mark got to know Kyle, the more he liked him. And all of Mark’s friends thought the same of Kyle.
Monday morning came, and there was Kyle with the huge stack of books again. Mark stopped him and said, “Damn boy, you are gonna really build some serious muscles with this pile of books every day!” Kyle just laughed and handed Mark half the books. Over the next four years, Kyle and Mark became best friends. When they were seniors, they began to think about college. Kyle decided on Georgetown, and Mark was going to Duke. They knew that we would always be friends, that the miles would never be a problem. Kyle was going to be a doctor, and Mark was going for business on a football scholarship. Kyle was valedictorian of their class.
Mark teased Kyle all the time about being a nerd. Kyle had to prepare a speech for graduation. Mark was so glad it wasn’t him having to get up there and speak. Graduation day, Mark saw Kyle.
Kyle looked great. He was one of those guys that really found himself during high school. He filled out and actually looked good in glasses. He had more dates than Mark and all the girls loved him! Sometimes Mark was even jealous.
Today was one of those days. Mark could see that Kyle was nervous about his speech. So, he smacked Kyle on the back and said, “Hey, big guy, you’ll be great!” Kyle looked at Mark with one of those looks (the really grateful one) and smiled. “Thanks,” he said.
As Kyle started his speech, he cleared his throat, and began. “Graduation is a time to thank those who helped you make it through those tough years. Your parents, your teachers, your siblings, maybe a coach … but mostly your friends. I am here to tell all of you that being a friend to someone is the best gift you can give them. I am going to tell you a story.” Mark just looked at his friend with disbelief as he told the story of the first day that they met. You see, Kyle had planned to kill himself over that weekend. Kyle talked of how he had cleaned out his locker so his Mom wouldn’t have to do it later and was carrying his stuff home. Kyle looked hard at Mark and gave me a little smile. “Thankfully, I was saved. My friend, Mark, saved me from doing the unspeakable.” Mark heard the gasp go through the crowd as this handsome, popular boy told us all about his weakest moment.
Mark saw Kyle’s Mom and dad looking at him and smiling that same grateful smile. Not until that moment did Mark ever realize the depth of his friendship with Kyle.
Never underestimate the power of your actions. With one small gesture you can change a person’s life. For better or for worse. God puts us all in each others lives to impact one another in some way. Look for God in others.