I moved to Lakeland the summer before eighth grade. My mom got a job at Lakeland Highlands Junior High, and after school, I had to wait around for her to finish working. I loved going into the auditorium to watch the cheerleaders practice their routines. I would sit in the back so that nobody noticed me; however, one day one of the cheerleaders did notice me and walked up and started talking to me. She invited me to come to her church that night for youth group. Her name was Trisha Evans, and her dad was Coach Roger Evans. We quickly became great friends.
As a teenager, I spent a lot of time with the Evans family. I have such fond memories of my time with them. I used to love spending the night at their house because Roger would spot us in different gymnastic stunts. We would stand back by Trisha’s bedroom and run down the hallway and into the family room and do a roundoff back handspring. Roger would be sitting on a knee yelling, “Keep your arms straight!” Trisha and I also used to love to do crazy things like dress up as old ladies and have Roger take us out in public. He would walk a little bit behind us and tell us what people said about us after they walked by. He thought we were so funny...or at least made us feel like we were.
At the beginning of the school year, LCS dedicated the Roger Evans Athletic Center, in memory of our beloved coach. As I was walking to my car that night after the dedication, I ran into Roger’s son, Danny. We only talked for a little bit, but I could barely concentrate on what he was saying. I couldn’t get over how much he reminded me of his dad. His voice, his mannerisms, and the way he asked about me and my family all reminded me so much of Roger. If anyone spent time with Roger, he always made them feel like he genuinely cared about them and what was going on in their lives. I couldn’t get over how much Danny was just like him.
As I drove home that night, I kept thinking about how that brief conversation with Danny made me feel like I had spent time with Roger. I felt God speaking to me in this moment. This is what He wants from me...God wants people who spend time with me to walk away feeling as if they have spent time with Jesus.
As people spend time with us, they should feel like we have loved them well. They should feel like we have shown them genuine kindness and selflessness. As we interact with others, they should see joy in our lives, and a gentleness in our conversations as we speak the truth in love. Ultimately they should see the fruits of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. That is so convicting for me. In my flesh, I am not able to treat people this way. I can so easily justify my wrong intentions because my heart is so selfish and deceptive. Treating people as God wants me to treat them can only happen if I am spending time with Him.
Why did Danny remind me so much of his dad? It was because of the time he had spent with him. As we spend time with people we become like them. As we spend time with God in His word and in prayer, we begin to show His character traits. I love that as we spend time in His word He shows us the true intentions of our hearts and gives us the ability to treat people in a way that doesn’t come naturally. As we spend time with Him, we become “doers” and not just “hearers” of the word.
Being in God’s word is a discipline and a commitment that isn’t always easy. For the eight years that I have taught fifth grade at LCS I have challenged my students to develop the habit of being in the word. It sounds easy to say, “read the Bible and pray”, but it is difficult. Our goal has to be intimacy with God. I remind myself regularly that if Jesus needed time alone with God, how much more I must need this. As I think back to that night talking to Danny, I am thankful for the reminder that I need to love others well so that through me they see Christ.
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