On Wednesday (Tuesday I went fishing with Mark. See an earlier blog) we were mostly left to ourselves. So in the morning I arranged to meet my long time friend Jamie Robertson at a Tim Horton’s in Stittsville while Jeanne popped over to see Sylvia Vincent and her daughters, Heidi and Jacqueline, who were our neighbors for about five years when we lived on Flewellyn Road.
Jamie likes to refer to himself as a “God chaser” and I think he has described himself well.
Later in the evening we went to dinner at Jerry and Kerry Narraway’s house. The Narraway clan turn out to be our oldest family connection in Canada. We have known the Narraways, their children, in-laws and out-laws since 1976. We were first introduced to Bud when he came to do an electrical service for my advertising office. He had already been warned about me by a real estate agent who told him to be leery of me because I was some sort of religious fanatic. Bud’s younger brother Bobby had already succumbed to the same disease while visiting Australia, and while he spent time sleeping on Bud’s couch he shared what he had experienced. Bud’s wife Debbie didn’t let on but she was interested and would always ask God ( in the best way she knew how) if what Bobby was saying had any truth to it. She expected some sort of bolt of light from the sky but didn’t ever get such a thing so wondered what to make of Bobby’s claims.
Around this same time Bud popped around to my office and met me. When he was finished wiring a couple of plugs, he just asked outright, “Are you some kind of religious guy?” I asked what he meant and he told me that he had been warned about me and just wanted to know for himself what I believed. Unknown to me, I pretty much told him the same story his brother had told him. This must have aroused his curiosity so we talked more – me explaining the gospel. In those days I was pretty aggressive and passionate in my presentation but it didn’t seem to set him aback at all. In fact, quite the contrary. From that point on we occasionally talked on the phone. After a couple of weeks, I invited him to what they called a “Full Gospel Businessman’s Fellowship Breakfast.” He may have accepted the invitation simply because he thought it would be good for business. As it turned out, he went and on that Saturday morning something happened to Bud. He caught the same thing that Bobby and I had caught. He became a Christian. When he got home that day, he was a different guy. Debbie, his wife, couldn’t make it out but now she felt surrounded and isolated. How could it be that Bobby and then Bud had this and she didn’t? They must be losing their minds and now what was next to happen? No doubt they must have been brainwashed.
When it comes to speaking her mind, Debbie was not then or is she now intimidated or gagged. Right away she was on the phone calling me, telling me she was coming over and wanted to know what I had done to her husband. Thirty minutes later she was at our door and not in a pleasant mood. In she came and before she took a seat she was firing questions at me. It was all a front. She was ready and a straw could have pushed her over. I think I answered her questions fairly well but it didn’t matter. That wasn’t what she was really after. Within minutes Debbie had committed her life to Jesus and from that point on, for almost five years, our two families were almost inseparable. We spent almost every weekend together and their children, Leslie, Jed and Mel became first cousins to our kids, Sky, Rachel, Amy and Matt. Somehow, even with years of separation, we are still family. With Bud and Debbie we inherited their families. Bobby and Jerry became close friends of ours too, and so our family continued to grow with adopted uncles and aunts joining in.
So, on this evening we had supper with folks we have known for almost forty years. We have grown old together. Bud and Deb’s children are grown and married with children even as ours have. We have all been mutually blessed.
Jerry and Kerry hosted with a table full of great food. I asked myself how any of this makes any sense? Without the gospel, we’d not even have a reason to be in the same room. Our collective lives would have never intersected. I understand how Islam and Jehovah’s Witnesses or Roman Catholicism bring people into community. Us and them religion and dogma force people into community. But real Christianity brings people together in an organic, relational way. A living Christian faith ties unrelated people to one another in a familial way. The Bible makes this clear by telling us that people who love God wind up loving one another. “If we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin.” When people stop walking in the light, three things are unavoidable. First, they lose fellowship with God. Next, the blood becomes ineffectual. Finally, they lose fellowship with other believers. It is the blood and obedience that brings us into a common light of shared life (community). Some that we once knew in the same way we know the Narraways are no longer in the family. They have sunk into apostasy and in so doing, they have lost not only a relationship with God but also this amazing worldwide brotherhood with it.