I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you.
This is how Paul begins the Epistle to the Romans. He states that he thanks God for their faith. In a sense, he is thankful for their faith and friendship. Reading this today made me think about the people who have shared their faith and friendship with me. It started when I was young. My grandmother loved Jesus and lived a life of faith before me. Sunday school teachers, youth leaders, pastors, and others in the church helped me in so many ways as I was growing up and trying to establish my faith as my own. As I went to college and seminary, professors and friends helped encourage me in my walk with the Lord. I married my college sweetheart, and she was and is a woman who loves Jesus. I also met and interacted with many wonderful people in the churches I pastored. I have had a front-row seat in the lives of people. I have seen life throw the worst at people. While some wilted, others were strengthened by the interior ballast of their faith. As I think back over the years, I have a few observations about the faith I have seen lived out in the lives of people:
- Many serve without much fanfare! Most do not have pulpits, TV programs, or large book contracts. They live faithful lives on main street and in their neighborhoods. They model faithful commitment and love for Christ to their families and friends. They do so by not drawing much attention to themselves. They are, in a word, heroes of the faith!
- Many serve in out-of-the-way places! Just recently, Susanne and I met with folks we had pastored in Syracuse, Indiana, in the 1980s. Most of you have never been there, and you have to be intentional if you are going there. This little town has a population of around 2700. Yet we encountered some of the most wonderful people we have ever known in that place. God has His dedicated saints everywhere, even out-of-the-way places.
- Many have an impact beyond what they imagine! A significant percentage of the people who have impacted my life were going about their daily lives and were not setting out to be change agents. They were seeking to be faithful followers of Christ. Much of our effectiveness happens as we live our lives obediently. Our impact often happens as we interact with others in the routines of daily living. What sometimes seems a random meeting turns out to be a divine appointment!
- Many have left an impression that has lasted a lifetime! As I write this blog, many names and faces come to mind. People who helped me spiritually and financially, mentored, encouraged, and corrected me. I am better for having had them a part of my life.
- Many serve me as a reminder of how I should live today! Their example of loving service and of investing in the lives of others serves as a reminder of what is truly important. Their love for God was expressed in caring service to and for others.
“I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world.” (Romans 1:8)