Friday, March 18, 2011

Reaching Out

For Christ’s love compels us,
because we are convinced that one died for all,
and therefore all died.
And he died for all,
that those who live should no longer live
for themselves but for him
who died for them and was raised again.
So from now on we regard no one
from a worldly point of view.
2 Corinthians 5:14-16

Dear Friend,

I'm writing to say thanks. I wish I could thank you personally, but I don't know where you are. I wish I could call you, but I don't know your name. If I knew your appearance, I'd look for you, but your face is fuzzy in my memory. But I'll never forget what you did.

There you were, leaning against your pickup in the West Texas oil field. An engineer of some sort. A supervisor on the job. Your khakis and clean shirt set you apart from us roustabouts. In the oil field pecking order, we were at the bottom. You were the boss. We were the workers. You read the blueprints. We dug the ditches. You inspected the pipe. We laid it. You ate with the bosses in the shed. We ate with each other in the shade.
Except that day.

I remember wondering why you did it.
We weren't much to look at. What wasn't sweaty was oily. Faces burnt from the sun; skin black from the grease. Didn't bother me, though. I was there only for the summer. A high-school boy earning good money laying pipe.

We weren't much to listen to, either. Our language was sandpaper coarse. After lunch, we'd light the cigarettes and begin the jokes. Someone always had a deck of cards with lacy-clad girls on the back. For thirty minutes in the heat of the day, the oil patch became Las Vegas—replete with foul language, dirty stories, blackjack, and barstools that doubled as lunch pails.

In the middle of such a game, you approached us. I thought you had a job for us that couldn't wait another few minutes. Like the others, I groaned when I saw you coming.
You were nervous. You shifted your weight from one leg to the other as you began to speak.

"Uh, fellows," you started.
We turned and looked up at you.
"I, uh, I just wanted, uh, to invite … "
You were way out of your comfort zone. I had no idea what you might be about to say, but I knew that it had nothing to do with work.
"I just wanted to tell you that, uh, our church is having a service tonight and, uh … "
"What?" I couldn't believe it. "He's talking church? Out here? With us?"
"I wanted to invite any of you to come along."

Silence. Screaming silence.
Several guys stared at the dirt. A few shot glances at the others. Snickers rose just inches from the surface.

"Well, that's it. Uh, if any of you want to go … uh, let me know."

After you turned and left, we turned and laughed. We called you "reverend," "preacher," and "the pope." We poked fun at each other, daring one another to go. You became the butt of the day's jokes.

I'm sure you knew that. I'm sure you went back to your truck knowing the only good you'd done was to make a good fool out of yourself. If that's what you thought, then you were wrong.
That's the reason for this letter.

Some five years later, a college sophomore was struggling with a decision. He had drifted from the faith given to him by his parents. He wanted to come back. He wanted to come home. But the price was high. His friends might laugh. His habits would have to change. His reputation would have to be overcome.
Could he do it? Did he have the courage?

That's when I thought of you. As I sat in my dorm room late one night, looking for the guts to do what I knew was right, I thought of you.
I thought of how your love for God had been greater than your love for your reputation.

I thought of how your obedience had been greater than your common sense.
I remembered how you had cared more about making disciples than about making a good first impression. And when I thought of you, your memory became my motivation.
So I came home.

I've told your story dozens of times to thousands of people. Each time the reaction is the same: The audience becomes a sea of smiles, and heads bob in understanding. Some smile because they think of the "clean-shirted engineers" in their lives. They remember the neighbor who brought the cake, the aunt who wrote the letter, the teacher who listened …
Others smile because they have done what you did. And they, too, wonder if their "lunchtime loyalty" was worth the effort.
You wondered that. What you did that day wasn't much. And I'm sure you walked away that day thinking that your efforts had been wasted.

They weren't.

So I'm writing to say thanks. Thanks for the example. Thanks for the courage. Thanks for giving your lunch to God. He did something with it; it became the Bread of Life for me.

P.S. If by some remarkable coincidence you read this and remember that day, please give me a call. I owe you lunch.
From In the Eye of the Storm Copyright (Thomas Nelson, 1997) Max Lucado

Is there a person like this in your life's story?
It is time to let them know how God has used him or her in your life.
Be this person in someone's life ... every day.

And I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding,
and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship. Exodus 31:3
God Bless you my friends, Bob


  1. You have a beautiful blog! Thank you so much for visiting my blog. It's very nice to meet you :-)

  2. Hello Mr. West,
    a beautiful. thought provoking post and yes, I do believe that at some point in our life time, everyone has had that one defining moment where we could have followed but chose not to for whatever reason we had at that particular time.

    I was blessed to have found that person five years later and let them know how much it meant to me that they had cared enough to want me included in their church. I was seventeen at the time and twenty-two when I became a member of the flock.

    Thank you for visiting me at TT.

    Have a wonderful evening
    Deanna :D

  3. It is nice to meet you, Bob! I love this story! Thank you for sharing this.
    Yes, I certainly do have someone like this in my life...actually more than one and I will look forward to spending eternity with those who did step outside their comfort zones and follow God's prompting to speak the truth, share a book, the bible, lend an ear, invite me to church, studies, etc. Their actions and prayers helped lead me to the place my heart was aching for before all along... before I ever realized it...and I'll be forever grateful.
    Thank you for your kind words on my blog!
    Blessings to you and yours!

  4. Bob, Thank you for following my blog and stopping by. I am returning the favor and want to say thank you for sharing that story. Very inspirational and one that I definitely will take to heart. Looking forward to reading more of your blog.



  5. Thank you for stopping by and following my blog! I enjoyed your story..a great read! I, too, have had people in my life like that. One woman in general, that stuck with me until I finally got my life on the right track. She was the first person I called when I did! She prayed for me until the day she passed away. God has used me time and time again...and I thank Him for the many blessings he has put in my life. The following post covers a day full of them!
    Have a blessed day!

  6. Dear Bob, What a wonderful story. I do have such a person who influenced me similarly. He was the local vicar. I was in the public laundrette and he made it a point to come in and say hello as he was passing by. That influenced my decision to join his church. If a busy vicar could find the time to say hello to a non-churchgoer then he was worth it. He was.

  7. This is a very nice story with a message - how often do we take the easy way out and not do/say something because of the fear that others will laugh or think badly of us? It's sometimes harder to do the right thing.

  8. It's the seed, Bob, the seed. I have many times in my life thought about what has made me come to some decision...and it's the latent seed. One so tiny planted there many years ago, possibly by the same method...of thought provoking situations. It always comes back to that tiny bit of conscience that the spirit laid on me at some time...when?
    Great post!!
    PS....Love Max Lucado!!

  9. Ahhh, Bob, thank you for stopping by my blog-My Thoughtful's been one of those weeks; yes, 'those' weeks where your thoughts wander and you catch yourself asking 'why'
    I'll explain more on my blog tomorrow, but wanted to welcome you to my place and I love your blog...thank you!

  10. Bob West,

    Grace and Peace,

    Fiquei MUITO feliz com seu contato, seu comentário.

    GLÓRIA A DEUS!!!!!!

    Muito Obrigada,

    Seu blog é uma bênção, estarei sempre por aqui.

    Deus abençoe,

    Ministerio Louvor Herdeiros de Deus