RITE OF PASSAGE: Incredible journey
I think of life as a journey. Some days are an uphill climb where each step is a struggle. Other days find you coasting down the other side of the mountain, enjoying the ride.
My favorite part of the journey is the people I meet. I find joy not only in the destinations but also in the relationships God allows me to make along the way. Some of these are only momentary, while others bring people into your life who will take the journey alongside you.
About 15 years ago, I boarded a flight to Orlando to speak at a church. A polite, diligent young man was assigned to pick me up at the airport and serve as my chauffeur. I was so impressed with him that I asked him to join me in the journey. He flew in to help us with the electrical part of a weekend youth rally: running projectors, setting up screens and putting together sound systems. What I didn’t understand was that this young man knew absolutely nothing about electronics.
There he stood with all these cords and no clue as to what to do with any of them. Finally, one of the other young men I met on the journey grabbed the cords out of his hand and began to plug them into their proper places. The first young man took the role of a supervisor, praising the second for doing a good job.
One day, our lead singer got sick. My young Florida friend came to me and said, “Walker, I can sing.” With no time to find a replacement, I told him go ahead. You know what? He turned out to be a much better singer than cord-plugger-inner. He decided to move to Oklahoma to be closer to our ministry and brought a friend with him to join the band. I was leading youth camps for the European Baptist Convention in Grindelwald, Switzerland. The band came along to lead worship.
One day, this young man did something that upset me. It was snowing in the Swiss Alps and we were holding a worship service at the top of the mountain. I sent him up ahead of me as I waited for the young campers to arrive. Before he left, he borrowed my yellow raincoat. I thought he wanted to protect his clothes from the snow. But a short time later, I looked out the window to see him and two of the other band members whizzing down the mountain . . . on my raincoat. Later that day, my friend returned the remnants: a couple of yellow slivers dangling from a collar.
On another day at the top of the Swiss Alps, I witnessed a radical change in this young man’s life. He was singing and heard his words echo back to him. He recalled the verse where Jesus said if His disciples didn’t praise him, the rocks would cry out (Luke 19:40). Suddenly, my friend held out his arms and began worshiping with all of his heart. When he came back down the mountain a long time later, he was never the same. That part of our journey had changed him forever.
I love it when God lets me watch Him change another traveler’s life. One day, our friend asked my wife and me if we would like to hear a new song he had written. Another friend beat out the rhythm on a little snare drum as we listened to this young man pour out a song we will never forget.
Last Monday, our paths crossed again at the Tulsa State Fair. My friend didn’t know I was in the audience as he ministered to the crowd. I have never been so proud of him. He was there not to entertain, but to lift up the truth. He understands that God’s truth has the power to change lives because it has happened to him. He is praying that God will change others as they join him for a few hours on the journey.
After the show, we went to visit him and spent the rest of the evening reminiscing. We laughed, we shared some tears and rejoiced to see our old friend once more. We are grateful to God that He allowed our paths to cross one more time.
By the way, you may know this young man. His name is Bart Millard. The friend who saved him from plugging in the wrong cords was Jim Bryson and the guy who helped ruin my raincoat was Mike Scheuchzer. You might know them more commonly as MercyMe. And oh, yes, the song Bart sang for us while Jim played the snare drum was “I Can Only Imagine.”
An incredible journey . . . by His grace.
Walker Moore is president of AweStar Ministries in Tulsa, P.O. Box 470265, Tulsa 74147, e-mail [email protected], phone 800/AWESTAR (293-7827).