I am in Joplin, Missouri with a team of 40 volunteers from Cross Point, my church in Nashville. We came here on a mission to provide on-the-ground support and aid to the people of Joplin in the wake of the the single worst tornado to hit the United States in over 60 years, leaving at least 139 people dead and entire communities completely devastated.
Today our team split up and was able to serve a lot of people across the city, including knocking out many projects that were a huge help at the church where I grew up, as well as helping my brother and my aunt, whose home was completely destroyed. Here’s a video of my buddy Carlos trying to describe the scene at my aunt’s house when our team first arrived to help.
I was in “GO” mode the entire first part of the day… organizing projects, mobilizing teams, coordinating support help, quarterbacking for our team and connecting them to needs as best I could. Then at about 1:20pm, I got a call from one of my best friends of close to 11 years, Tyson. He had been helping me connect our team with his church, Mystery Church, to respond to needs. I knew Tyson’s home received a lot of damage in the storm but that it was still standing. Tyson asked me if we were still looking for projects. We were. He said his house needed to be completely gutted, and asked if we were up for it. Fortunately for him, gutting houses is something Cross Point folks got very good at about this time last year. The call was made and our team headed his way.
I had done pretty good and not been too emotional all day. Even when we were first driving through town in the morning, I was in shock and wasn’t sure what to feel, but I wasn’t particularly emotional… until I got to Tyson’s house. Once I arrived, and perhaps for the first time since the tornado first hit over a week ago, I completely lost it.
My emotion in that moment was a combination of being thankful my friend and his family were safe mixed with the overall gravity of the scenario that was unfolding in my hometown. However, what I think really sent me over the edge was the realization of what was happening in that exact moment and what it meant. Let me give you some context.
If you’re followed my blog for long or know me reasonably well, chances are you know my story to some degree. For the sake of those who don’t, I experienced a defining moment a little over 2 years ago when God, in His great grace and mercy, allowed me to see the condition of my heart. In the process of pursuing something I thought I had to have, I had become someone I did not want to be. During an late night phone conversation in March of 2009, God used a friend to speak truth into my life that was the catalyst for major life and heart change for me that would begin to deconstruct and reshape how I saw everything. That friend was Tyson.
My journey since that night a little over two years ago has been nothing short of a roller-coaster ride, but one thing is for sure. I am not the same person I was two years ago. More specifically, the person I have become and am continuing to become (whoever that is), is due in large part to how God used my friend to interject truth into a moment when my heart was in a tailspin. He may not have even realized the full weight of what he was saying that night, nor did I. But it was the proverbial flipping of the switch that would begin to change everything for me.
It was that conversation that led me to pursue God for a new heart. It was that conversation that would cause me to dig deeper than I ever had to learn my true identity. It was that conversation that put me on a course that would lead me to Cross Point Church in January 2010, where I would experience faith, spiritual growth and community in a way I never had before.
Fast-forward to today, just over 2 years after that conversation, and I find myself back in Joplin, standing in Tyson’s storm-ravaged home, surrounded by 40 people from my church in Nashville who have come to help him… the product of the shape and direction my life took as a result of his investment. In that very moment it was suddenly clear to me that the very fruit that was produced by the seed of truth God used him to plant in my life had come back to his house. I was witnessing God bring something full circle right before my eyes.
I was a wreck.
I will preach about intentionality in relationships until the day I die. And this is why.
We are blessed with people in our lives and moments with those people where we get to choose what kind of investment we will make with our time and words. Choose wisely. Be intentional. Invest. Engage with purpose. You never know how the words you speak and the time you invest will bear fruit that will come back and bless your life.