I’ve got to share a cool story from our time in Dallas, Texas for our Time to Revive Missionary Training. It was a reminder to me of how God weaves our life stories together in ways that only He can do.
Anyone who has heard me share my story or talk about my passion for discipleship has probably heard me share the name “Mr. Zechman.” Mr. Z was a leader in the church where I grew up and over time became one of the most important role models and mentors in my life.
In 9th grade, after I had responded to a call into pastoral ministry, Mr. Z asked me to breakfast. As a goofy 9th grade boy I thought it was pretty cool that this community leader and respected church member wanted to meet with me. Little did I know that one breakfast would turn into dozens and dozens of weekly breakfasts that lasted all through high school and even when I was home from college.
Mr. Zechman entered my life at a time when my family was really starting to struggle. He became like a second dad to me. His four daughters even just called me “brother.” No one has had a more direct and shaping impact on my life than Mr. Z. Just from being around him I learned more of what it looks like to love your wife, to be a Christian dad, to integrate your faith and work…
The last night that Revive was in Mercer County this past December I had a chance to share a little bit of my story as I invited folks to engage in discipling another. I shared the powerful ripple effects of pouring yourself into one person. A large part of who I am today was shaped by my mentor, Mr. Zechman. For me, my relationship with Mr. Z has always been a living example of the truth of 2 Timothy 2:2. Paul poured into Timothy and he was to invest in others who could invest in others and on and on. That’s the power of Jesus’ model of multiplication.
And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others. – 2 Timothy 2:2
Fast forward back to Dallas and our missionary training. On Saturday, March 4 Heidi and I were invited to a small gathering that really celebrated the heritage of Time to Revive and what God is preparing to do this Spring in the Dallas-Forth Worth area through ReviveTexas. In the group of 40 or so folks that night there were people who had prayed for TTR through the years, donors who had helped to make the ministry possible, board members who help to lead, etc. I had never met the vast majority of those at the gathering.
As guests started to arrive, TTR’s leader, Kyle Martin introduced me to a few people. The first person we met was a man named Joe. Joe met Kyle through the sports world and has been a support and advocate for Kyle and Time to Revive for many years.
Joe asked where we were from. “Ohio.” “Oh you’re from Ohio?” Joe said. “Have you ever heard of a town called Piqua?”
That question immediately caught me off guard. Piqua is not a large community. Many people in Ohio don’t even know about Piqua. But that’s where I grew up. From kindergarten to college, that was my home.
“Yes,” I said. “That’s where I grew up!”
“Really?” Joe responded. “One of my life long best friends and college roommate was the city engineer in Piqua. His name is Tom Zechman. Have you ever heard that name before?”
I almost fell over. How can that possibly be? “Are you serious?” I asked.
My mind was racing. Was this some kind of setup? Of course I knew Tom Zechman. I wouldn’t have been standing there without his influence. I don’t know where I would be today without Mr. Z.
Joe pulled out his phone and actually had a picture of him and Mr. Z in college. Then he quickly texted a picture of himself, my wife and I to Mr. Zechman…or “Zech” as Joe called him.
Mr. Zechman responded quickly to the text. “What the heck?!?!”
We briefly talked to Mr. Z by phone, but I told him we would have to meet in person so I could explain the whole thing.
So here I was, 1000+ miles from home, in a place I’ve never been, getting trained for a ministry I only learned of a few months ago, but that is radically changing my life. And here in the midst of all the change and unknown I find out that in the early roots of this ministry is the lifelong friend of the man who shaped my whole life. How does God weave this stuff together?
This whole episode may seem like a cute coincidence to many, but for Heidi and I it was a powerful glimpse into the goodness of God and the might of his hand.
It was like the Lord revealed to us, that even though we thought we were doing something totally new and outside the plan we ever imagined for ourselves…somehow God’s hand had been weaving this story together for decades.
I was a 1000 miles from home, launching into an unknown future, with people that I did not know…and somehow I was right at home and exactly where I was always supposed to be. It may feel new or unknown to us, but God’s not at all surprised by the story He is weaving into our lives.
In his book, The Grand Weaver, Ravi Zacharias writes in the introduction…
Once you begin to see God’s hand in your life, you will know that his workmanship within you was tailor-made, just for you. His design for your life pulls together every thread of your existence into a magnificent work of art. Every thread matters and has a specific purpose.
God is weaving something beautiful in your life too. You may not see it. You may not understand it. It may be years until you can look back and see the picture he is creating. But you can trust that he is indeed at work.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. – Jeremiah 29:11-13
The Grand Weaver has been at his masterful work since the very beginning. He wove his story into creation. Through the people of Israel. Through the life, death and resurrection of his Son.
And he is weaving this story into your life too.
Zacharias closes his book saying,
The design is beautiful. The promise is sure. The end result is profound. The answers will all be there. But the condition is clear: we must search God with all our hearts. And when you are about to walk into eternity, may you also be able to say, as did my father-in-law, “Amazing! It’s just amazing!”
Lately that is what I have been feeling in my own life. I don’t completely understand it. I don’t know exactly how I got here. I don’t know exactly what tomorrow holds. But the more I search God with my whole heart the more I see the beauty of his hand in my story. And it’s amazing…just amazing!