For you were called to this, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps.” 2 Peter 2:21
The same kind of different as me. It was 1965…I was about eleven and he was probably 18. I’m not sure how we bumped into one another. As I remember it, I was out in the field that was part of property and he rolled up in his golf cart. Well, hey, that was an ice breaker if there ever was one. He gave me a big smile, a friendly wave and said, “Hi.” I could tell from that first hello that Fred had a speech issue and later it became apparent that he was one of God’s special creations…someone the world would call broken but God would call absolutely perfect.
Despite the age difference and his perfection and my lack of it, we seemed to hit it off. Almost immediately we were off on the first of many rides in his golf cart. He loved it and I loved it and even though it wasn’t meant for off the road…that is exactly where we went. I assume his family bought him the golf cart to help him get around the neighborhood. I believe he lived in a subdivision, a gathering of the nicest homes in the neighborhood, at the end of the road I lived on. I don’t know if he was living there or visiting there but for the time I knew him…we were buds.
There are a lot of things that I have forgotten about that summer and early fall but there is one thing I remember—Fred loved baseball. I’m pretty sure the team didn’t matter as long as it was baseball. He would carry around a portable transistor (that’s a throwback for my older readers) and we would listen to the games together. It was September and time for the World Series, and we would sit in his golf cart like it was a front row seat right there in the stadium. Even now that memory makes me smile. In our simple world…all was well.
I think I began to learn something that summer and that lesson was about us—all of us. In the world today we seem to search for things that cause us to focus on what divides us…what makes us different instead of what can draw us together. I know it made no sense for Fred and I to be friends but his ultra-cool golf cart and his kind and outgoing personality overcame whatever differences there were. He was the same kind of different as me. That sentence is the title of a book and movie about two men who came from totally, and I mean totally, different backgrounds and yet managed to forge a friendship that would last for the rest of their lives.
You see, the truth is we can overcome our differences. Our decision to allow skin color, language, social and economic differences, religion, or politics to divide us is a choice not a destiny. This is especially true for Jesus’ people. As followers we are choosing to align ourselves with Him and love others…regardless. Really. It is true. It is in the Book…all over the Book and when decide to let the Book, and the Jesus of the Book, call the shots…well it is a game changer.
I’m thankful for that summer of 1965. If you know anything about that decade you know it was more than turbulent. People were wondering if we as a nation would survive. Well, by the grace of God, we did. And guess what? We can survive this mess today but if we do it will also be by the grace of God and Jesus people who decide to act like Jesus. Peter, the guy in the Bible who fell flat on his face and denied Jesus said, “For you were called to this, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps.” In other words, we are called to be like Him. No matter how difficult that might sound to you, don’t forget that today and always—He’s got this. Bro. Dewayne