When I was in medical school, I was sitting in a restaurant with some friends when a vaguely familiar face came up to our table.
“Hey Paul! Remember me? It’s Brent!”
I looked at his face and slowly recognized my high school classmate. It had been about 6 years since I last saw him but it could well have been 26 years. He looked so much older and heavier than our last encounter. I struggled with my memories as I searched his features, trying to remember him.
“Yeah, I’ve changed a lot, huh? I was really messed up in high school. But Praise God! I found Jesus Christ and He turned my life around!”
It was then I noticed that he was holding a Bible and a notebook under his arm. “I’m headed to my Bible study, “ he beamed. “But I wanted to come over and say, Hi!”
“Wow Brent!” I managed to muster. “That’s great! I’m a Christian also!”
“Hey that’s great! Well, Praise God man! See you around!”
And with that he was gone. It has been over 30 years since that encounter and I have never seen or heard from him again.
No preaching or sharing of testimonies occurred. No reminiscing of our former lives happened. But that encounter did linger with me. Brent really was messed up in high school, heavy into drugs and a dangerous lifestyle. In fact, he did not graduate with us and had to take additional remedial classes to obtain his high school degree. He was an extremely talented musician and I presumed that was how he was surviving. Thankfully, he was doing more than surviving, he was now living a new life in fellowship with our Lord Jesus Christ!
I marvelled at how dramatically his life had turned around! At that time in my life, my relationship with Jesus Christ and walk with God was very distant, almost non-existent. I was completely focused upon becoming a doctor and if that meant forsaking my time fellowshipping with other Christians or doing a regular Bible study or quiet time, so be it. I was wrapped up in the world, once again, and my excuse was always that when I had more time someday, I would spend time with God. Needless to say, my life was completely out of balance and I was really messed up!
Seeing my high school classmate at that moment in my life was a much needed wake up call. Sometimes I hear people flippantly state, “I need to take some time off from God." That was exactly what I was doing, and it made no sense. During trials, stress, and tribulation, this is the absolute worst action anyone could ever do. What could be more important than to draw closer to God during your times of greatest need?
I am ashamed of these times in my life when God was so distant. I deliberately pushed Him away thinking I knew better. Whatever takes your attention away from God, whether it is school, your job, drugs, or money, it is messed up and you will be messed up.
It is only through God’s mercy and grace that He accepts me once again, if I turn from my sinful ways and truly repent, asking for His forgiveness. And yet, there are many times that pangs of guilt and shame haunt me for these and many other times I have turned away from Him. I claim His promises that the Apostle Paul recorded.
There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
Thanks be to God for His merciful love.
Thank you Lord Jesus. Thank you!
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.