During my corporate career I managed the recruiting function for a couple of major corporations. We went to great lengths to recruit the "right" people, those with the right education, experience and personal characteristics to meet the needs of the company. It was the right thing to do.
While I was in graduate school we lived in an area that was predominately one denomination or faith. We did not belong to that particular denomination. There were 69 apartments in the complex where we lived. Those apartments had 67 families of that predominate faith.
We had a most curious experience beginning on the first day of a month. My wife got a call from some neighbors offering us tickets to the city's symphony, a symphony of world renown. Later that day, she got a call from from another neighbor inviting us to a family gathering. Over the next day, we got a series of calls and personal invitations to a wide variety of events.
Curious about what was happening, I asked one of our neighbors "What's going on?" She laughed and replied: "Didn't you know? You've been selected as the "fellowship family of the month. You're just the "right" kind of people for this congregation."
These invitations continued until the last day of the month, then ceased. Except for the symphony tickets, we accepted none of them. (We did get to see The Nutcracker, including both symphony and ballet... truly excellent!)
As we know, Jesus ministered to the "wrong" people according to the "righteous" of the Sanhedrin.
For a bit over a year and a half, I've been working with, ministering to a young man who has an alcohol addiction. During the last 6 months of 2008, Matt came to church with me regularly. He continued to fight his addiction, with some backsliding. He attended Sunday School classes attended mainly by people of my own age group. Matt had some "far out" ideas about Christianity. Someone in our church told Matt "Perhaps you don't belong here." Matt disappeared from the church.
Throughout 2009, I saw Matt regularly. I offered to talk with him, give assistance in any way I could. Usually when I saw him he was in the company of a rough group and was purchasing alcohol. Matt made many "promises" to meet with me for luch or similar things and to return to church. For over a year, he kept none of those promises.
Each week, in two of the Bible study/Sunday school groups I attend, Matt was included in our prayers. Others tried to reach out to Matt, without success.
Two weeks ago, on Saturday, I got a call from Matt. "Art, can I get a ride with you to church tomorrow?" I was elated! I was also doubtful. Matt and I had been through this before, but always at my initiative, not his. Mat went on to tell me he'd just gotten out of three weeks of rehab. This wasn't the first time. "Art, I'll be ready to go this time, I promise." This was a different Matt than I'd been talking with for over a year. Mat was ready and waithng when I went to pick him up. He was on fire.
Matt was very warmly received when we got to church. Now, this church has a large congregation, and the time between services is hectic. Still, quite a number of people of all ages went to Matt to welcome him back. Matt was "on fire." We talked for a long time when I took him back home. Matt was so excited. So was I! We made arrangements for the next Sunday and on Saturday, Matt contacted me to assure me he'd be ready for me to pick him up.
At 3:58 am Sunday morning I was awakened by a text message. "I'm going to sleep in." My heart sank. I tried to call back, but got no answer. I made later attempts to contact Matt before church... no success.
Between the 2nd and 3rd services Sunday morning, I saw Matt in the melee. He came to me immediately, a huge smile on his face. "See, I made it!" Indeed he had. Then he turned to an attractive young lady who was trailing behind him. "Art, this is Valerie. I rode with her today." He gave a bit of a sheepish smile, her's was shy. My heart soared.
Last week I saw Matt twice. Once he made a special trip into my work just to say hello. Both times, hiding behind Matt was a pretty young lady named Valerie.
OK, this has become a rather long tale, but it has a point.
To outward appearance any relationship between Matt and me didn't make sense. We are literally generations apart. Our lifestyles are vastly different. What we share is our love of Jesus.
This experience has clearly shown me a couple of things.
1. I am just a planter of seeds. Over the past year, my efforts with Matt were not successful. But the Holy Spirit was at work in Matt, and His work bore fruit. I'm not sure, but I strongly suspect that a young woman was brought into Matt's life at just the right moment. I can relate to that. You see, over 40 years ago I was well on my way to alcoholism when a young woman entered my life. I kissed her this morning as she left for work.
2. By all logic, Matt was the "wrong" person for me to be messing around with. We had nothing in common except our love of Jesus. Yet Matt was exactly the type of "wrong" person for me to "recruit."
Now, I have no idea what the future holds for Matt and Valerie. As Paul Harvey said, we'll have to wait for "the rest of the story."
But I thank Jesus that he hung in there with Matt. Just as He hung in there with me decades ago.