A few weeks ago, a good friend of mine passed away.
He wasn’t just a good friend. He was a brother in the Lord.
That means his connection with me is eternal, in the best of ways.
I love him.
I met him through a church I was a part of. After a while, I noticed that his smile and upbeat demeanor was more than just a social pleasantry.
You see, if I am a part of a church, and we have visitors, I want to greet them. It’s not artificial or obligatory. I genuinely care about people having a spiritually positive experience when they visit. And I would just use whatever gifts God has given me to help them feel connected, in some way, with God’s love.
Well, when you think like that, and have that as your mission–helping people feel God’s love–you see things differently. It’s like you see the world as it is, and then you see it on another level. You notice the people who are not comfortable…who look out of place. You notice visitors.
And you zoom in. With love and a smile, you zoom in to do your best imitation of Jesus Christ loving a stranger.
And because you see things differently, you notice not just the visitors, but you notice people who notice visitors.
You catch people doing exactly what you are doing!
And that’s when I noticed “John” (fake name), my friend.
Once I noticed that he had the same agenda as me, I confronted him about it. You see, John had no agenda…nothing he wanted from them. He just wanted to bless them.
“Man, John, I really appreciate the way you always greet visitors. When I see you making your way to people with your smile, and your great handshake, it PUMPS ME UP!!! Also, I get excited when we have visitors because I know that I have you by my side making sure every single person who comes into our church will get a warm welcome and a greeting of love.”
He didn’t say thank you. He didn’t brush it off. Like a soldier obsessed with winning a war, he simply, matter of factly, explained that he simply wanted to do what he could do for the Lord.
What a guy.
I sure do love him.
And it’s not just that. He was so kind and thoughtful.
He gave me clothes. You see, he and I were both big guys. And as big people often do, we fluctuated in our weight. As he slimmed down, he gave me some clothes that I was slimming down into. One of those shirts is still in my closet. And it’s really nice. I think of him every time I wear it.
We used to talk about sleep apnea with our fellow brother in the Lord, Jim (real name). All three of us had sleep apnea. And all three of us had dealt with it in three different ways.
Also, he had a granddaughter who he adored. When I started my first father-daughter retreat, he brought his granddaughter. He wanted her to have that experience.
I was so touched. And so was she. His granddaughter beamed at having her grandfather take her to the father-daughter retreat.
And John beamed as well. So proud. Willing to go beyond the extra mile to love his precious princess.
No regrets. That’s what I think of when I think of John. He was not perfect. Of course, who is?
But in John, I saw a man who recognized his mistakes, and refused to dwell on the things he was not strong in…he focused on what he was strong in–loving people with the love that God gave him.
Isn’t that great?
He was never rude…always passionate.
He wasn’t always smiling…but he was always loving.
I hope when I pass on, that people in my circle of friends and family remember the way I made them feel…by sharing with them the love that God has given me.
PS: If any of you are interested in our father-daughter retreat, you can find out more information at www.FatherDaughterRetreat.com. It’s getting closer–September 11-12. I’m so glad John brought his granddaughter…no regrets.