One of the most unique things about life is meeting people on your journey. There are some friends who you meet that become acquaintances. Other people become friends that you see every once in a while but are not acquaintances because you know more about them than just their face. There are those still who become great friends. These are the people you spend time with on a regular basis and have great things in common with one another. These are your buddies and your pals. Finally, there are those who take an even greater step of friendship and become a “best friend.” A best friend is someone who knows you from the inside out. They know your strengths as well as your faults. They are ones who lift you up in prayer and are willing to spend quality time with you. These are unique people in your life and should never be taken for granted. I am lucky to have four “best friends” and one of them is leaving to live in Wisconsin. This post is for him.
I don’t think Jathan knows how much of a “best friend” he has been to me over the past couple of years I have known him. I think, at times, Jathan feels like the guy from “Mr. Holland’s Opus” where Mr. Holland sits and ponders what kind of impact he has left on his peers. It is near the end of the movie where he enters the auditorium and sees hundreds of kids, staff, and friends from the community there, clapping and cheering him on. All that has transpired takes him back. To me, and I know to others, Jathan is leaving behind a model of friendship, ministry, faith, and humility that many will attempt to achieve. That is something that he will never receive a trophy for.
Jathan has always been someone who is willing to give his time to you if you ask for it. On many occasions, Jathan and I (along with several other people) would hang out to read the Word of God, play a game (board games or PS2), or talk about life. To me, the most valuable conversations were our talks about life. These talks included our weaknesses/struggles, our strengths/ministry goals, girls, ministry, and our family. He was always ready to listen and always brought the focus back to Jesus and His goodness.
Jathan leaves today to drive a two-day journey to live in Wisconsin. There are a lot of reasons I believe he is going – all of them are valid reasons. The first and foremost reason he is going is because God has opened the door for him to go. God has given him a peace about this life-change and is being obedient to God’s calling. Second, God has opened up some doors to serve in the community where he will be living. There is a church that he will be serving at as an assistant youth pastor and a ministry to American Indians he will be serving. The one is a paid position, the other isn’t. He will be framing houses with his brother-in-law, which will be neat, I am sure. Third has just been stated – he will be staying with his sister and brother-in-law, who he hardly gets to see in general. I think it will be good for Jathan to move out and live with his sister for a period of time. He can’t live at home forever and needs to step out in faith and be a radical Christian. He is pretty good at that. Finally, there is a girl out in Wisconsin that he met and has gotten to know over the phone. She seems like a nice girl who is passionate about the Lord. Though I have never met her, I believe God has brought them to this point for a reason. I am sure, in time, if it is God’s will, I will have to fly out there to be apart of his wedding. Since, within the past two months they have talked well over 70 hours on the phone, I do not think I am presupposing anything that has not entered the minds of either Jathan or this girl. Time will tell though and God will lead. It just ends up working out better when that happens.
So, in closing, I send my blessing with Jathan to go make disciples of Jesus Christ in Wisconsin, to be a friend of the oppressed and the lonely, and proclaim the Word of God to others who need to hear it. I will be keeping up with Jathan’s website and facebook page. He promised he would update regularly, which is good. So, I guess the only thing I can say is, “Goodbye, my friend. Go with God and know that we love you.”