29-The Josh Story
Intentional black lines and dots once again, my friends. The good news it that my movie-maker program seems to be working again so I should be back to videos next week! In the meantime, allow me to share another mentoring story to piggyback onto last week. This one is about a young man named Josh.
Josh attended the monster Project Forty trip (the kids weren’t monsters, there were just a lot of them!) with his church youth group last June and found himself enjoying every aspect of climbing. He volunteered to help set up the rappel site, a nice 100’ drop off a cliff face that quickly undercut and left the rappeller hanging in space for the remainder of the decent. Josh was watching as I mentally made some notes, changes to the rope system, and double-checked all the knots and carabiners. “So what do you like to do for fun?” I asked, just to make some small talk.
“I don’t know, just hang out with friends I guess.” He seemed willing to be forth right, but I, in my tactless methods of just putting the elephant in the room and sitting it down for all to see asked, “You party much?”
“Yeah. Mainly on the weekends,” he responded without hesitation.
“Do you smoke?” I blurted, not really giving it much thought.
Since I was on a roll I figured, why stop now? “Pot or cigarettes? How often? Do your parents know? Are you involved in church?” I didn’t really relent a whole lot and Josh sound unashamed enough to just be real. REAL. That’s what I love about the wilderness. It was just a couple of guys standing on the top of an incredible cliff line, being real. I continued with my questions but now with a different agenda. “Are you into all this climbing stuff? If I took you climbing once a week do you think that you would quit all the partying and smoking?” He lit up at the prospect of getting into climbing and said that it would definitely help him not to party so much, but maybe leaving a little reservation for the comfort of his friends and habits.
Josh is an incredible young man and here’s why. He made a ton of mature decisions this last year that have helped him finish his senior year off strong. He accepted an invitation to allow me to be apart of his life and responded with a full heart of joy, love for others and climbing (anything really—buildings, water towers, trees, stadium bleachers, whatever…), and a willingness to dive into the life of another in order to serve them above himself. His laugh is contagious and I will have to say that climbing with him every week over this last year has been a blast! But it wasn’t the climbing I was after. It was the thirty minutes to the climbing gym and back that was my desire. TIME. Time is not always on our side when we have a ba-jillion things on our to-do list. Extra time is not a hot commodity in our society. But, God operates on a different system. He gave us time for our sake, not His. It took TIME of talking with Josh, continuing the blunt questions and being REAL about my own struggles to build a solid friendship. Fortunately for me, Josh was very open and honest right from the start. If I suspected otherwise I’d call him out and we’d talk about it.
Too often we think that ministry happens in a church setting, or at a “function” of some sort. Ministry can feel like a planned event or experience set up by a skilled pastor holding a doctorate in theology. May I remind all of us today that ministry happens when we make TIME for REAL relationships to blossom. It took Josh’s open heart to allow me to pour my life in to his, and he simultaneously poured right back into mine.
My challenge to you this week is to look at your schedule and create a block of TIME to sit back to be REAL with someone. Maybe your kids, maybe a neighbor or coworker. Maybe it’s someone that has been on your heart for a long time and you just haven’t found the extra time. Well, time never grows nor can we gain any more than we already have. Make it happen!