As You Go

March 08, 2022

By Rev. Kris Mares

A few years ago, I was at a work event with my husband and one of his coworkers asked to talk with me privately. Not knowing what to expect, I followed him to a spot nearby that was a little more secluded from the busyness of the event. As we stood there in that space, I stood in awe of God’s goodness and grace.
My husband had worked with this man for a couple of years. He was significantly older than us and had lived a fast and hard life. He had his own way of doing things, was stubborn, and yet was kind. He lived far from family and his work had always been his life. I didn’t know him well. He knew I was a pastor and we chatted politely when the opportunity arose. He worked closely with my husband, so they knew each other well, but we knew each other mostly vicariously. This man was not a “church going kind of guy” and his life truly consisted of work and tv (mostly cop and wilderness type shows). He was definitely NOT the touchy, feely type either.
In those moments we spoke, this man proceeded to tell me about sick and dying parents, girlfriend trouble, and an overall lament about life. He asked me “why” kinds of questions and wanted advice. He wanted to know what to do and how to make it through the loss of his parents. He was asking big questions. He cried. We hugged and I prayed with him. And the whole time I kept wondering “what is going on here God?!” I invited this man to join my husband and I for a chapel service that would be happening later, and he accepted the invitation. For the first time, he attended worship within a community of his colleagues and the message that day was spot on for this man’s life. I could not have custom written a more perfect message for him that day.
What is so amazing about this whole story is that I had so very little to do with it. The whole situation is a testament to God’s grace and the relationship my husband built with this man. Their relationship was built over time, with consistent kindness, a genuine care for the person, and mutual respect. Although my interactions were few prior to our conversation, they were pleasant and the way my spouse spoke about me left an impression. That day in the chapel service a guest speaker was introduced. I had no idea there was going to be a guest speaker, didn’t know who the person was, and yet the person was well known in the industry. I couldn’t have orchestrated any of that. Only God. Even as I write this story down for you today, I still am in awe of how God worked it all out.
I know sometimes we wonder if what we are doing even matters. There are days it is hard to continue to be kind toward that one coworker. There are moments when venting about your family member is so easy. There are times when being pleasant is difficult in the midst of busyness. There are seasons when we wonder if that gruff person we keep serving in that one outreach ministry will ever see the light. When I have those moments, this experience with my husband’s colleague reminds me how much our relationships with others truly matter, even the seemingly insignificant ones.
To this day, although he and my husband no longer work closely together, when I do run into this man at industry events, he gets a huge grin and makes a point to speak to me. He still remembers our conversation that day. I will never forget it and the lesson it taught me. To “go, making disciples of all nations” is truly about the relationships we have with the people around us. Perhaps we need to think of it more as “as we go, make disciples of all nations.” No outreach ministry or discipleship program can replace honest and authentic relationships with people around us. So, as you go about your daily life, interact with love and kindness to all you meet. And go with patience, waiting with wonder and expectation for the next opportunity God has in store for you to see grace at work.

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