We at Confessions from Crickets would like to thank all our readers for being patient with us these past few weeks as we have lapsed in our normal posting schedule. It’s been a time of transition for both of us, as we’re starting new school programs, jobs, and phases of life. We hope to be more consistent in the future and are so grateful for your constant support.
Let me start today by extending the happiest of Thanksgivings to you and your loved ones. May it be time to reflect on what you have to be thankful for and praise God for things he has provided for you in your life. Of course, it’s always good to keep an attitude of thankfulness always, but it’s especially useful to have a specific time to focus on it.
Today’s post is one that I’ve been holding onto for a while and is one of the most important to me. Of course, every blog post is important to me in a different way but given that I’m writing this on Thanksgiving Day in Canada, I thought I’d take the opportunity to use this blog to thank a few of the most amazing, outstanding, remarkable, and unforgettable people in my life: my mentors, Alain Virgin, Calvin Russell and Jeff Smyth.
I’m beyond grateful that God has placed these three men in my life. Words can’t describe the impact they have had on me (but given that this is a blog, I guess I’m gonna have to give it a shot). Not only have they been with me since the very beginning or know my story inside out, but they are also still helping me along my spiritual journey with God.
As I see it, we’re born with two fathers: our birth father and our Heavenly Father. It’s a sad reality that, for so many people, the former of those two often fails to live up to the task, and for others, the latter might be unknown to them for so long. As much as my heart goes out to these people, I can’t say that this has been my experience. Rather, I haven’t had just one or two fathers–I have five. Alain, Calvin, and Jeff have been filling those extra roles together for the past few years, and I couldn’t be more fortunate.
But today is not Father’s Day; today is Thanksgiving. So why am I going on and on about my overabundance of fathers?
To answer that, let’s look at one of my favourite pieces of Scripture. After Jesus’ death and resurrection, he visits his followers and says “‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age’” (Matthew 18b-20).
For many, this is a very familiar passage. As Christians, we are charged with the jubilous responsibility of sharing the good news of God with us to everyone we meet–and moreover, everyone in the world. However, just because the news is good, that doesn’t mean that the job is easy.
In a world that is as fast paced and interconnected as ours is, it’s both ironic and totally understandable that it’s so easy to feel alone. As a result, and perhaps spurred by an ever-rising entrepreneurial spirit, it can seem that the right choice for any young Christian is to stride out alone, Bible in hand, with the assurance that in Christ they are never alone and seek to “make disciples of all nations” all on their lonesome. And while I am certainly not one to limit the ever-surprising power of God, who I’m sure could move mountains with this one stalwart evangelist, I’m more and more convinced that this is not how the gospel was meant to be spread.
Section 7.1.5 of Living Faith, the Presbyterian Church in Canada’s statement of faith, identifies the church as apostolic, a word that is fundamentally tied to the commission we read in Matthew. Specifically, “apostle,” from which “apostolic” derives, roughly means ‘one sent on a mission’’–we are messengers of God and delegates of Christ, taking his love to all people. But on the flip side, ‘apostolic’ makes reference to those first messengers that we read about in our Bibles, and reminds us of our connection to them, and to each other.
Another one of my favourite passages comes from 1 John 4:19: “We love because he [God] first loved us.” Likewise, in John 15:16, Jesus says “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit–fruit that will last–and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.”
Both of these passages point to the first meaning of ‘apostolic’–they both speak to an outward pouring of fruitful love–but they also make clear the second part. For a messenger to be sent, someone has to send them. Someone has to equip us to go, love us to love, plant in us that we may bear fruit. Ultimately, this someone is God, but God often lays the commissioning hands on us as and through the hands of others.
Which brings me back around to my three father figures from earlier.
I’ve always been a sucker for mentorship, but there’s just something so powerful about the Christian ethic of relationship that makes these mentors especially fulfilling. As I mentioned earlier, Alain, Calvin, and Jeff were all there for me during the formational points in my faith journey and have continued to walk beside me through everything that has come since. They have provided guidance, support, encouragement, knowledge, wisdom, and sacrificial love, all within the embrace of a healthy relationship.
I’ve heard that a youth only needs one caring adult in their life for them to be changed. Yeah, these people were my caring adults. I feel that I can trust them with anything, but this is a trust that has been built on years of history. These people showed me the love that God has shown me–the unconditional love God shows all of us–and have modeled it well.
Crucially, this love that they share is a love that propagates. Because of the love that I have received in the relationships of which I have been a part, my heart is on fire to support other youth. So, in closing, I offer a few words of affirmation.
To my mentors, thank you; you have made a difference in my life, and I know I am not the only one.
To all mentors, be at peace; when you feel like you’re not making an impact on life, just remember that you are without knowing it. Change for good isn’t always loud and obvious, and the love that effects this change is the same. Sometimes, simply being present in someone’s life is all they may need.
And finally, to all of us–and I do mean us, because I need this reminder too–remember that we will have an effect on everyone we meet, and we need to make the best of it. I don’t say this to highlight a worry, though I’m sure this is one for many of us. I also don’t want to encourage a crude entrepreneurism, where interaction becomes networking and relationship becomes transaction. Rather, with Jesus as our model, and a whole cloud of apostolic witnesses testifying, let us speak, befriend, mentor, and pray, because this is what love does.