As we’ve been working through the Gospel According to Mark, we’ve discussed the power that a single encounter with another person can have in our lives. We asked some of our members to share what this has practically looked like in their own lives.
I remember clearly when I first met Ashley; she just appeared at my freshman dorm room one night while I was writing a paper. I didn’t know that God would use that chance encounter and the friendship that followed to drastically change my life. There was nothing extraordinary about our friendship from that point on, it might not have been a typical friendship since Ashley was married and wasn’t a student (she wasn’t creepy, just on staff with a college ministry), but otherwise our friendship looked normal.
What was extraordinary was the opportunity to encounter the living God through that ordinary relationship. Ashley and I both used the word “Christian” to describe ourselves, but as I got to know her I realized that term brought weight and meaning to her life while I merely saw it as a line item in my resume of good deeds. Seeing Christianity play itself out in the life of a peer both intrigued and challenged me. In contrast to Ashley’s life, I couldn’t dismiss the fact that the Bible and the person of Jesus had little to no bearing on my decisions or overall vision for my life. I started to wonder if I fully understood or really even believed what I was taught prior to this point.
These observations and questions eventually brought me to a point of surrender. Seven years ago, Valentine’s Day weekend of 2008, I confessed my lack of belief, my wavering faith, and my longing for more. Honestly, I don’t think I knew what to ask for or where to go from that point, I just knew that there was more to this God that I had nominally aligned myself with for so long. He opened my eyes to see that the cross mattered deeply because it bore my own sin, not just the petty wrongdoings but the depravity of my heart that made me believe I didn’t need him.
As I learned what it meant to follow Jesus in every area of my life Ashley was there, pointing me to truth from His Word, teaching me how to read it and apply it to my life. I saw Christ’s sacrificial love being modeled as I watched her pour out her life for the sake of others knowing Him. I learned from her marriage as I watched Ashley and her husband seek to selflessly love and care for one another. I watched as they structured their lives and decisions around Biblical principles and God’s calling. All of these examples are the result of a life that has been radically transformed by God’s grace to us on the cross. I saw the Gospel story in the pages of my Bible but also written on the lives of those closest to me.
The beauty of this story is that God invites his people to be used in the building up of His kingdom. God did the work to open my heart to hear and receive the truth of the Gospel and he allowed Ashley the opportunity to be a big part of that process. Ashley was compelled by those same truths to give of herself and say yes to befriending a type-A freshman full of Sunday school answers. Seeing grace and truth on display in her life led me to make the decision to follow Jesus, which ultimately led me to follow His call to Denver to help plant the Summit Church. I pray that the faith it took to step into that college dorm room in North Carolina will continue to be multiplied in the city of Denver.