“I have never stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the wonderful future he has promised to those he called. I want you to realize what a rich and glorious inheritance he has given to his people.” (Ephesians 1:16-18) NLT
I grew up as a preacher’s kid. In fact my dad was a chaplain in the army. I’m sure this had a significant bearing on why I became a follower of Jesus, but it also came with some struggles. There’s an enormous amount of pressure that exists as the child of a pastor. The pressure to be seen as holy and blameless is intense when you are in fact the pastor (or his wife). And of course that pressure will naturally affect the children. I remember feeling an enormous amount of pressure to not embarrass my father, the pastor. By the time I was in high school at an army post in Kitzingen, Germany, I was pretty much done. Forget what they wanted. I wanted to make decisions for me. I would play along at church and wear my mask, but outside of church I was very, very different. I had become two faced.
I came back to the states for college and stayed with my grandmother while I was going to school. I wore my mask at her small town church as well. But several things at that church made me realize that the people there weren’t who they should have been. I could see through their masks and had decided that they were incredibly hypocritical, fake… two faced. So I became irritated at God for letting his church get that way. I took advantage of my “righteous indignation” and walked away from the church. But not just that church—any church. And I walked away from God.
While all of this was going on, unbeknownst to me my grandmother was praying for me. She loved me, didn’t judge me, talked to me… and prayed for me. And then she set me up. On a seemingly random Sunday, she cooked her after-church lunch as she always did but this time she invited their new youth minister over. She didn’t tell me that he was coming until 5 minutes before he got there. About 10 minutes after arriving, he started a conversation with me when just the two of us were in the living room. I begrudgingly talked to him, just to be nice. And then the strangest thing happened! He was a real guy. He was funny, down to earth, and genuine. One thing led to another and he got me involved playing guitar for the youth group on Wednesday nights. I felt accepted and wanted. And God slowly began to chisel away at the hardness around my heart. The relationship that started that day was the critical relationship that got me turned back around and moving in God’s direction. And my praying grandmother was the catalyst.
For those of you who were prayed, prodded, and even arm twisted into a relationship with Jesus, who was it that did the praying? The prodding? While there are exceptions, odds are there was someone that God used to be the catalyst for you. That person deserves a standing ovation! Imagine the direction your life could have taken if that person had not been there staring at you with a cattle prod! Today is a great opportunity to get in touch with that person and thank them. Let them know how they changed your life. In response to the gift you have been given, what if you made it your mission to be a catalyst for someone else?