Sometimes, in moments of melancholy, I wonder if my life has counted for anything. I am especially wondering that during this season of my life. I am forty-five years old. I have stayed in youth ministry way beyond my prime. I have no money to speak of. I am just now, after 20 years, finishing my master’s degree. I am not an ordained pastor. I rarely get to preach. I have never served communion. I have never baptized anyone. I am 25 pounds overweight. I have acid reflux. My present ministry as an Assistant Pastor often leaves me scratching my head, wondering what it is that I really do. To top it all off, I live in a van down by the river!
Not really. I’m not quite Matt Foley. But I’m working on it.
With this said, today I received a remarkably encouraging e-mail from Eric Griffin. I first met Eric several years ago while visiting Rock Hill High School (Rock Hill, SC). Eric was a freshman (or sophomore) who played soccer and sometimes kicked field goals for the football team. After a while, Eric and I formed a friendship and he became a key student leader in our Young Life ministry. Eric is now married to his beautiful wife, Wendy, and he works as a successful businessman with The Cason Group insurance agency.
Today Eric sent me an a note that reminded me of some things that I needed to remember.
Note from Eric…
T…hey man. Just a note of encouragement to you. I was at a retreat all weekend, and the speaker asked us to think about a mentor who really had an impact on our lives. I thought of you and praised God for Him using you in my life 15+ years ago. things I specifically thanked God for were how you were the first person to ever make the Gospel appear attractive and that a walk with Christ included laughing. One other specific thing you told me that I will never forget was when Fowler, Cunnup, and I drove to Johnson City to visit, you shared that the best way you could love your kids is by loving Martha Jo. I remember that often and think of you every time.
I am thankful for you T and miss having time with you. Thanks for being faithful to follow God’s call to make an impact on others.
My Response to Eric…
I don’t even know how to respond to that. A part of me wants to say something like “I’m all you have, Eric? Really? That is so tragic! You need to get out more, man!” Or I’m tempted to respond, “15 years ago? Eric…dude… I was an idiot 15 years ago! Erase every memory of me from your mind. I had a mullet for goodness sake! Who listens to a guy with a mullet? Never listen to a guy with a mullet!”
But, instead of all that, I will simply say “Thank You.” It humbles me to hear that God used me in your life. And it excites me to know that the message I wanted to send actually caught hold. I can’t think of very many things I would want to communicate beyond
(1) The Gospel of Jesus is beautiful
(2) The Gospel should produce joy and laughter and
(3) The best way to love your children is to love your wife.
I miss you too, E. You are a great brother. May God continue to bless you with everything that He calls good.
I am so grateful that God reminds us. Thank you, Eric. Thanks for reminding me to consider the beauty of Christ, to laugh with Jesus, and to love my wife.
And thank you, Jesus. It is a testament to your grace that you can use a bone-head with a mullet to proclaim the life-giving beauty of the Gospel…even if that bone-head does live in a van down by the river.