Monday, April 20, 2015

Plant, Water, Wait...

Yesterday morning I had the privilege and honor of baptizing my little brother, Bryan. Two days after celebrating his 31st birthday on Friday, we were able to rejoice in his rebirth in Christ Sunday. The Lord has been so gracious and faithful to pursue Bryan’s affections. When I pause to consider such goodness, my heart is overwhelmed with gratitude and I’m left in awe. Though I cannot begin to describe all the intricate details involved in the Lord bringing my brother to saving faith, I want to briefly share a portion of his story. Though I will fall short of doing it justice, I want to describe the significant role that my friend and our Executive Pastor, Terry Langenberg, played in Bryan’s conversion.

Their league trophy is
still proudly displayed on a
 mantle in Terry's office.
Years ago when my brother was a 20-something looking to get connected at the church, Terry reached out to Bryan, and like so many other men from our church, he hit it off with Terry. Their relationship developed and they soon found themselves coaching a little league baseball team together. I've heard their squad made the Bad News Bears look like the Yankees, but that's beside the point. Bryan would sometimes come over after practice to visit. When Terry and Monica were out of town, they’d occasionally have him housesit and feed their dog while they were away. The most important part of that season is that Terry established a relationship of trust and acceptance with Bryan that would later pay huge dividends.

Bryan’s job eventually forced him to move further north and he was no longer able to stay plugged into the church. Though he and Terry would see each other periodically, the weekly connection was no longer possible. When Bryan would come back to worship around the holidays, the two would always pick right back up. It was as if the Lord was keeping the conversation going by providing opportunities frequently enough, so as to not completely drift apart. In fact, last summer the two had a chance to get caught up when they each participated in the men’s ministry Mancation trip to the Rockies.

Bryan & Terry - Quandary Peak
Fast-forward to February of this year. The Holy Spirit confronted Bryan with the realization that something had to change. Though he had professed faith before as a high school student, Christ had never truly been his Lord. My brother knew that and was aware of the haunting truth that he had held onto some things that now enslaved him. So after asking for a chance to meet with Terry, the two got together on a Thursday evening after work.

After putting in a full week of work and a long day up to that point, Terry did what any faithful disciple would do. He made himself available. In their nearly three-hour conversation, Terry was able to share some of the details of his testimony that really hit home with my brother. He shared how the Lord has been using his story to impact his family. He showed Bryan the YouTube video of his mother’s baptism. Though it is very counter to what our culture considers masculine, right there in his office, Terry and my brother prayed and wept together, which resulted in my brother placing his faith in Jesus.

Bryan entered Terry’s office that evening fearful that he might possibly lose everything – his job, his spouse, his opportunity to make any real change. But he left with everything. He left with the hope of the gospel. For it was specifically for my brother’s struggles that Jesus came; it was for our failures, yours and mine, our sins and shortcomings that Jesus was sent; it was precisely because of our inability to fix things that Christ endured the cross, scorning its shame. For the joy of seeing us reconciled to our loving Father, our Savior conquered sin at Calvary, and as one of our modern poet’s has said: “Jesus Christ put death in His grave.” In that paradoxical moment that is only found in Him, Bryan was finally empowered to forfeit his everything, only to discover that he has all things in Christ.

I share this today, not to make much of Terry, but to point you to the all-powerful, majestic God that has used Terry to bring glory to Himself. The seeds that Terry planted those many years ago were seemingly scattered by the winds of time. Prior to February Terry could have stopped and considered those previous years of loving and praying for Bryan as a waste of time. Of course he may have then missed out on the blessing of one day leading him to faith in Christ. Thankfully, the Lord is always up to so much more than we can see in any given moment. Maybe we’ll get to participate in a similar harvest of souls one of these days. My prayer is that in the meantime we’ll remain faithful, trusting that nothing is impossible with God. So let’s be diligent to plant, water, and wait, leaving the details up to the only One capable of producing real growth and heart change, our Risen Jesus who is mighty to save!

Matt Fowler
Associate Pastor of Missions & Students

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