For much of my high school years, I walked the quarter-mile to school with two friends, Annie and Annette. As we had known each other since the third grade, they were well aware of my physical limitations. Even on the coldest of days, they would pace themselves so that I could keep up. I was grateful for their friendship. Our morning walks halted in my last year of High School as I became gravely ill and spent several months in bed. Their loyal friendship continued, and they often stopped to ask my mother for a progress report on their way to school.
As a result of my prolonged illness, I no longer was able to walk that quarter-mile when I was finally allowed to return to school. As often happens when attending a large high school, Annie, Annette, and I drifted apart. My interests lay in the creative arts, their interests lay in sciences and languages. However, we’d occasionally meet for lunch, and shortly after my return to school, I sensed a definite change in Annie.
Annie was blossoming from the inside out. Although she had always been kind, there was something more, a something more that I just couldn’t put my finger on. I learned that Annie had taken my mother’s progress reports to school and shared them with her new friends, and they had prayed for me. I met a few of her friends and thanked them for their sacrifice. I couldn’t fathom anything as dull as sitting around praying dull old prayers for someone they hardly knew.
When I returned to school, if Annie’s friends saw me walking down the hall between classes, they’d wave a cheery hello. If they saw me in the cafeteria, they’d cajole me to join them at their table. As I had been severely bullied in school, I was cautious. Eventually, their genuine warmth won me over. Their overtures of friendship seemed real. I sat at their table most school days but I didn’t say much. I listened in.
Intermixed with their conversations about classes, music, sports, and clothes, they’d bring up the name of Jesus. The way they talked about Him puzzled me. It was almost as if they knew Jesus as a real person. He just wasn’t some distant God they worshipped from afar. My friends’ eyes would lit up at the mention of His name.
It never occurred to me that I could tell Jesus about all my problems. I presumed they ranked pretty low on his priority list; He had bigger issues to worry about after all. My friends not only believed that not only was God interested in their lives, they believed He offered solutions. These teenagers genuinely liked God. He wasn’t just someone they tried to impress by being pious so He wouldn’t be angry with them. No. my friends loved Him, and they believed they were loved in return. He was as real to them as the people who sat around our lunch table. It was enough to make a girl think.
One day, Annie took the bus home with me, a departure from her usual routine. Halfway up the hill to our stop, she nervously pulled a card out of her pocket. It was an invitation to a three-day gathering taking place at my High School over an upcoming weekend. She told me that her new friends invited her to a similar gathering month’s earlier. She hoped that I’d come to the next meeting. Armed with a whole lot of curiosity and even more trepidation, I willingly walked into my high school’s front doors on a Friday night, knowing that I would not be released until late Sunday afternoon.
Over the course of that weekend, I met a loving and compassionate God. I was not won over by gifted speakers, Bible studies, lectures, or slick presentations. It was the heart of Jesus that captured me. You see, I recognised that love as it had already been shown me through the actions and attitudes of Annie and her group of friends.
During a time set apart for personal reflection, I sat alone in a classroom that had been designated as a temporary chapel. As I gazed upon a massive pencil sketch of Jesus someone had taped over the classroom’s blackboard, I became aware of an unseen Someone in the room with me; I wasn’t alone. That Someone had always been there, walking beside me. It became clear to me that my new friends weren’t just friendly people. They were ordinary teens who allowed their hearts to be transformed by one touch of that Someone who was now inviting me to invite Him into my life. Ever so cautiously, I reached out to that Presence, and as the old chorus goes, “He touched me and made me whole.”
God became real to me through the lives of young men and women who weren’t afraid to be real with me. It wasn’t their logic nor was it their oratory skills that drew me to Christ; it was their passionate, reckless, and all-consuming love for Him. Their transformed lives fueled a hunger in me. Their genuine love, not just each other but for those around them as well, drew me into His loving embrace. My prayer is that I would woo others to Him, not by my words nor by my reason but through my heart that reflects the love that He has graciously shone on me.
“Let your words be the genuine picture of your heart.” John Wesley
As you read the following passage from 1 Corinthians and ask yourself the following questions.
As you grow in your faith, how do your actions and attitudes reflect the transformation of your heart?
Are you an ever-brightening beacon that draws others into a real relationship with God?
If not, why not? Is there fear keeping you back? Do you doubt that you are being transformed into His image? Talk to Him about that today.
1 Corinthians 3:18 (AMP) – “And all of us, as with unveiled face, [because we] continued to behold [in the Word of God] as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are constantly being transfigured into His very own image in ever increasing splendor and from one degree of glory to another; [for this comes] from the Lord [Who is] the Spirit.”
All Bible verses, unless otherwise attributed, are from the English Standard Version (ESV).
Until Next Week
©2017 Katherine Walden
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