The Jesus you see in me is a direct reflection of the Jesus you allowed me to see in you. The Jesus you introduced me to, even when I was not aware. You couldn’t help it. He is as much of you as the air you breathe. His power and influence drive your decisions. Your wisdom. The love the flows from your heart for his people, both lost and found. I was just blessed to have crossed your path.
It must have been a mistake that you came into my restaurant that day. I was 18 and newly married. An assistant manager at KFC. I was going places. I likely knew everything there was to know about life. You didn’t let that stop you. Day after day, you and your wife came in about 2pm. It was the quietest time of the day. You would have the buffet and give me a hard time, or try and sell me your joke of the day. You would ask about my life. Day after day, you really got to know me. You invested in me. I’m not sure when I realized when you were the pastor of a little country church, but I remember the day you came in to tell me you were headed to Russia for a week. You went every two years for missions. When you came back you brought me a wall hanging native to Kostroma. You shared stories. You invited me to your Sunday evening service so I could see pictures and hear about your trip. I remember making it a point to take off early so I could make it. You meant as much to me as I meant to you. I just didn’t see it at the time. I remember the day you told me I had to take responsibility for my own salvation. It was my choice. That stuck with me. You later moved on to another community. I couldn’t begin to know where to find you now, but I want you to know that I found him. I accepted Christ to be my Lord and Savior. I never miss church if I don’t have too. My kids know him too. Because I meant something too you. You never pressured me about missing church. Instead, you brought Jesus to me each and every day and introduced me to him over chicken, coleslaw and conversation. The Jesus you see in me is a direct result of the message of salvation that you allowed him to carry through you. I just wanted to say Thank you.
You were the patriarch. You sat proudly at the head of the pew, dressed in your Sunday suit jacket and skirt. Vintage broach and an cocky grin. You were gentle spoken with a back bone of steel. Most families attend church on Christmas and Easter. Not us. When we attended, it was for Mothers day or your birthday. Afterward, we would go out to the country club for lunch and a few good laughs. I respected you so deeply. You were the first one I told, after David, that we were going to have a baby. You were so proud of her. The first Sunday we attended church with her, you carried her around to every Sunday school class in the building. The Jesus you see in me is a direct result of the love I saw flow through you. Unconditional and deep. You taught me that to love deeply is not weakness, but strength. You taught me to strive for gentleness and wisdom in my home. Your example makes me want to live God’s best everyday.
She was a physics professor at EIU. She saw potential in me during a women’s bible study that she led. I was intimidated as heck. She cruised up in her Chrysler convertible and bounced in with a basket of handouts and goodies. I loved her oversized jewelry and bright style. I never understood why she chose me to take under her wing. She spoke life into me. She encouraged me in my discovery of God’s word. She told me to tuck his word away in my heart. She taught me how to apply God’s word to my life. She taught me to teach others. She encouraged me to further myself and chase after my dreams. She kept regular appointments with me. Lunches. Sunday afternoon picnics with my family. She sent my husband care packages while he was over seas. She sent me surprise letters of encouragement and DQ money while my kids and I were waiting at home for his return. The Jesus I saw in a beautiful bible teacher showed me that my life has worth and meaning. A purpose in his kingdom. The Jesus you see in me lives, truly lives because of the Jesus I saw in her. No more stinkin’ thinkin’. Just baby steps of obedience in whatever direction he calls me to go.
The Jesus you see in me would never be without the influence of those who have followed him before. Those who have stories to tell, love to give and applications to teach. Those who invested their time, their prayers and their obedience to follow God in order to reach a girl who had big dreams, minimal resources and no confidence.
The Jesus you see in me is an investment of God’s willing people mixed with Gods word. His Holy Spirit and His perfect time. He still has a long way to go in my life. But I hope the Jesus you see in me will be as profound and intentional as the Jesus I saw in them.