You recently asked me to write to you about the people who have influenced my life--a series of acknowledgements, if you will. So be it! Here it is. I'm not famous, but neither am I likely ever to be. So perhaps the obscurity of my own person only serves to highlight the wisdom and tender guidance of our God in developing minuscule humans by using other minuscule humans! To be honest: I'm extremely excited about this: fleshing out the dynamics of human interaction and the way that temporary, innocuous events can alter a whole course of life. We truly are like bumper cars, being constantly jolted this way and that in view of eternity. In many ways these people have shifted me toward a revel in the glory of Yahweh, and I only hope I have returned the favor in some minute way. A stroke in the tapestry, a speck of dust; so we all are! And glory to Jesus for it!
The first guy on my list is named Tyler. I met him years and years ago when I was 12 or 13. He was a blonde boy, a few years older; best friends with Stephen. Together... they formed a disastrous duo. We met on a mission trip to Costa Rica, but the village huts and houses were much more sanitary than this boy. I remember one particular prank: Tyler decided to poop into a Ziploc bag. And to place it inside our leader's backpack. Why did Tyler do such a thing before an 8-hour bus ride? I do not know. But he thought it was the greatest feat his mind (and large intestine) had achieved. There were a few other things he 'accomplished' like trying to convince others you could breathe through your ears; like throwing Stephen's bottled urine across the bus; and like sharing the gospel with an unconverted team member who had never understood the need for personal faith. Did I just Jesus Juke you? Eh, maybe...
But although these events are pressed into my mind, one event stands above the rest. On the last day of our sojourn in Costa Rica, we visited a gift shop. I scoured the aisles for gifts to my family members. Sixty minutes later, I was in line at the register only to find that after all the items were rung and tax added, with both currencies of my pockets out-turned, I was short. $3 and some change. Horror lit my face, and the elves in my mind scurried frantically as I knew not how to supply the 'need' of my family's trinkets. A friend nearby suggested, "You should ask Tyler--I think he has a lot of money left." My mind-elves squealed to one another, "What? How? Tyler went to the Panderia every day to buy a loaf of cheese bread. I didn't spend as much as he did." Nonetheless, one outshouted another saying, "Go ask him!" So little 13-year old "Boston" (that's what they called me) power-walked like a menopausal woman through the store to find Tyler, the goof. Finding him--I don't even remember what I said, but I remember saying it hurriedly--he listened intently, then reached out his right hand and set it firmly and comfortingly on my shoulder with quaking calm. He spoke: "You are my brother in Christ." Pulling a few bills from his wallet he handed them to me with a genuine-sincere-pure-and-perfect smile. I thanked him profusely, promising to repay him when I got home--mailing him the four dollars. Then I sped off to settle trade. And that was it.
We still had 29 hours or so together, but our interaction was limited. I never mailed him the money. I never even got his mailing address. But the thing that really shifted me was not that he gave the money--certainly I was and am grateful. Exceedingly. But the thing that really gets me, even though I skimmed over it and shrugged it off then, was his joyful calm and the conviction in his belief: "You are my brother in Christ." Whoa. I mean, I know that simple text on a screen can't convey everything that he now means to me eternally, but if I could just transfer the weight of his words to you--man. I had heard the phrase before, but it is always said with a trite nod and throwaway smile. Looking back, though, in that moment I had been adopted as a brother. It had already happened in his heart, but there in the gift shop, he pronounced it, and made known to me that our bond fit blood and more. We were brothers, and he would take care of me. He would guide me in life as much as circumstances permitted. I gained a brother. And Tyler, poop-flinging Tyler, gave me the eyes to see the vastness and intensity of the family of God.
You, Ruben, are my brother because of Christ.
In Christ, the familyhead,