November 19, 2102
It sure felt good to be “normal” for a change. Many of my Sundays are spent on planes, not in pews. When not flying, I’m often speaking (so my pastor friends can fly!). Yesterday, I was just Bob, in my spot in the auditorium, in the proximity of friends and family, at church.
My friend/pastor/Master’s grad, Dave, was doing a great job (I told him so, later) exploring Elijah’s final life lap, from 2 Kings 2. He noted the legacy that Elijah had worked to create by investing himself into his protégé, Elisha. Elijah’s impact was not limited to his lifetime; it would be multiplied in Elisha’s lifespan, as well.
I looked down the row and saw Ed and Cheri. I met Ed, 35 years ago, when he was a major supplier to our family business. He frequently hosted lunch for me at Mr. Stox – the local upscale restaurant where business guys did business. Our professional relationship was healthy, but it became personal when I invited Ed to our weekly outreach breakfast for the local Christian Businessmen’s Committee. We were his largest customer; it was an easy score…
Ed came… and, he came back. He had a church background, but he soon determined that he didn’t have a personal faith to go with that history. At breakfast, he heard business executives describe their personal journey to discover a saving faith. Through CBMC, we opened the spiritual dialog… and, ultimately, Ed came to faith.
We were forming a couples’ group that would meet each week in our home for a systematic spiritual growth study; Cheri and I invited Ed and his Cheri to come. It wasn’t long before Cheri – who also had a strong background in her church system – discovered what Ed had found: her religious life hadn’t delivered eternal life. Cheri came into a vibrant personal faith, as well.
Run the clock forward, 35 years. After church yesterday, the three of us formed a huddle in the church lobby and took a walk down Memory Lane.
They had recently run into Bud and Dee. Bud was the General Superintendent in the family business; the day I was promoted to Exec VP/Gen Mgr, Bud called me into his office and reminded me that he had been at the company longer than I had been alive. He was the senior union employee in the firm; 225 construction guys worked under his oversight. He was a tough cookie, and he was highly respected. I had spent six years coming up through the ranks, and I knew: you didn’t mess with Bud.
It was natural enough, as our respected working relationship grew in a new season, to invite Bud to a business breakfast with local executives, to hear an accomplished entrepreneur describe his own working life, culminating in the discovery that success was no solution to his lostness. His story peaked when he came to his knees…
Bud was a staunch Irish Catholic. His religion was inherited from his family… but his legacy hadn’t given him assurance of forgiveness and the certainty of life in heaven. Bud came to a personal faith, and became a great comrade during the years that followed.
In the lobby yesterday, Ed and Cheri remembered with me what God had done, over the decades. Both Ed and Bud had sons; those sons had worked for me, in the years after our family business sold. Both had come to faith with me. Ed and Bud had seen their families – into their grandchildrens’ generation – embrace and serve the Lord Jesus. Their sons are business owners who are actively involved in serving their calling, beyond their careers.
It’s Thanksgiving week. (My) Cheri and I will convene three generations – our kids, and their kids, with us – who all know what it means to know and follow Jesus. Ed and Bud will do the same with their families. I’ve seen the results of simply sharing the gift of faith with people we met and cared about… and the power of God to do what He does so well…
My relationship with Ed and Cheri – and their families – is mirrored in Paul’s relationship with the believers in Thessalonica: “For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy” (1 Thessalonians 2:19-20).
This Thanksgiving week, express your greatest gratitude for what God has done in you, for you, through you… and for the people who are your legacy. They’ll be a treasure in your life, for the rest of Eternity.
Thankful for you,