Twenty years later, she looked at the invitation in her hand.
Twenty years, already?
She put the invitation down and dismissed it.
She’d made a promise that she would go, that she wouldn’t miss it. Would her friends care if she skipped? Would they notice if she didn’t?
Did it matter?
“Geez, I don’t even know if I want to go!” Kendall thought aloud…I don’t want to make this decision.
Several months before hand, Kendall’s life had changed. She’d grown up as a “Christian” and fully understood who Jesus was…a brush with death turned her life upside down/inside out.
That brush with death had led Kendall to cross over to a new life. Not physically, but certainly emotionally and spiritually.
She was what “secular society” called “Born Again.” The term never really made sense to her and hearing it in years gone by made her entirely uncomfortable.
But according to
John 3: New Living Translation (NLT)
3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.[a]”
4 “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”
5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit[b] gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You[c] must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”[d]
Because Kendall was a New Believer, she didn’t understand how much power she had by having the Spirit of God actually living within her. But she was about to find out….
Here she was a 40 year old mother of 2, folding laundry.
She’d done her best to push those years out of her mind. But, 20 years slip by fast.
Folding laundry was always such a menial task (at best) and was now a mindless activity with the reunion invite announcement sitting squarely in the the back of her mind. Even if the invitation was buried in a pile somewhere – it might well have been glued to her face.
A reunion had seemed so far off back then…the reality of trying to decide if she wanted to attend it was almost all consuming.
Now what? She thought to herself…
“ASK ME.” came the inaudible voice – The Inner Nudge
Kendall paused, cocked her head wondering what to think but proceeded to say a prayer aloud:
I don’t know what to do. This is just a High School reunion, a social event. I don’t really need to go even though I made a promise to myself (so long ago) that I would…tell me what to do.
Help guide me in the right direction. I don’t want to go unless it’s your WILL and for your purposes that I do. I’ll admit it, I’m scared. I can’t do this on my own.
There were lots of reasons Kendall DID NOT want to go to her reunion, but the biggest was she wasn’t sure she wanted to see him.
She continued to work hard at putting the milestone event out of her mind; which was all but impossible.
Until the following week, when her mind had traveled off in time and space. Still looking for answers.
“Go, You will be there for the right reasons. Take my hand, I will lead you.”
Kendall knew it was God’s answer…without Him even having to preface it.
She booked her tickets and made her reservations. She only had a week to wait….
Flying into the Northwest was an odd sensation. But as the plane approached Portland International Airport, she couldn’t tell if she felt more sick, nervous or either one…maybe neither.
“I AM with you.”
Kendall had intentionally not attended her 10 year reunion.
She’d always felt like a “fish out of water” and showing up at this event was no exception. Her presence here, now, revolved around God’s plan. If God intended to stretch her comfort zone… in addition to making her uncomfortable, He was doing a bang-up job.
Suffice it to say, She recognized hardly anyone, at least at first. Kendall had normally been the kind of girl who could say hello to strangers, be a friendly face and help to the new kids and make them feel welcome. Now, her fellow alumni were slowly but surely making the rounds and stopping to say hello to her. Talk about surreal.
The night was half way over with dinner having long been served and Kendall hadn’t gone near it. She might regret that later, but her nerves (so far) suppressed her appetite.
As she mingled through the crowd and left the banquet hall for fresh air and change of scene; she considered the possibility she might not see Tim before the night was through. Staring out a window that overlooked downtown, she listened to various conversations as people meandered through the hallways. For most of her fellow classmates, this was just another social gathering. A mixer – a place to see and be seen….
She turned and walked away from the view of city lights and headed back into the banquet hall. 10 steps away from her and walking directly in her line of fire, was a brown-haired, blue-eyed man. His facial features having changed significantly; he was no longer the boy in her memory, he was a man. She hadn’t realized who he was until it was too late.
His eyes penetrated hers and shot straight to her soul. Making her want to laugh, cry and gasp all at once, just like 23 years prior. But this time, things were different. Covered in the power of Christ, Kendall squashed the same emotions that had kept her chained for all those years and as she slowed her pace, so did Tim.
“How the heck have you been, Tim. You look great.”
“I’ve been great Kendall, Thanks. You look great, too” and the conversation continued with the obvious niceties of acceptable “small talk” for about 5 minutes.
Yes, 5 minutes.
They had never been friends. They had barely been acquaintances. But the first time Tim spoke to her, he’d asked for her picture. And Kendall had never given it to him.
Effectively she’d never finished answering her portion of his question.
Kendall sat at the table after Tim had left and and took a deep breath. She would have never recognized Tim had they not passed, face-to-face in the hallway.
He was no longer teenage cute; he was now GQ Handsome. Kendall could barely remember a word of their speed-of-light conversation but it wasn’t the scope of the conversation that counted. It had been her ability to initiate it, look him square in the face and shed the image she had of HER-Self as a t0ngue-tied high school kid. She had faced her LOsT and unrealized High School love head on and emerged a woman through those smoldering teenage embers – which had burned out long ago.
Kendall had been swayed by the powers of Spiritual warfare. The enemy wanted her to BELIEVE that Tim had all the qualities that she likely wanted in a guy. She’d been stuck in the past haunted by a ghost of his youth. But as much as Tim MAY have been a gentleman as a man, young boys can (and do) make mistakes. She’d felt dumped if not unintentionally ignored after one brief exchange. It wasn’t Tim’s fault…it wasn’t hers. The enemy had taken an opportunity to seize her emotions and manipulate her heart. The enemy had lied to her and tried to make Tim the fall guy. It was her first realization of what Spiritual Warfare could look like – the enemy had taken the upper edge – until NOW.
Kendall’s mind catapulted in light speed mode from 1983 to 2006. She’d just set those shackles free that had bruised her body and heart for more than two decades. Only to realize that even back in her teenage years, God had been protecting her.
Too young to get married, Kendall might easily have been tempted to sacrifice the most precious human thing she had (her virginity) out of what she perceived as love, too soon.
She wouldn’t be able to fully embrace a man’s love until she’d found and uncovered God’s Love for her. It’s hard to fully appreciate God’s design when we don’t fully understand God outside a relationship with HIM. What she needed to know now was what a Man’s love for his wife would look like, truly feel like, and mean to her.
It took her about a week to realize and recognize why God had told her to come on this trip. Kendall hadn’t had any issues to resolve with Tim. They hadn’t been friends, they’d barely been acquaintances. The reason for the trip was more personal than that. Kendall had trust issues with God. She didn’t know what to expect, how to act or how to follow HIM. But this had been the first step.
He’d faithfully allowed her to set her false or misplaced feelings for Tim free. He’d empowered her to find the words to get beyond her weaknesses and make her words her strength. Getting answers from Tim about why he didn’t try harder to make “them” work wasn’t HIS goal. Tim was simply God’s tool to help Kendall see what she couldn’t all along. She could be brave and courageous. And if she didn’t have the strength to do it solo, God wouldn’t abandon her.
God would LOVE her as much if not more as any man ever could.
Thank you for protecting me from myself. How often have I traveled roads I didn’t belong on but you re-directed me back – to YOU. People we know and meet will come and go from our lives. You’ve taught me that. YOU are the only thing that is steadfast. You helped me put the chains of Tim behind me. You helped me to see more clearly how TRUSTing YOU is the only way to live. The only WAY to be truly free.
Thank you for your patience, for your guiding hand. For loving me and not giving up on me.
I pray that for all those who read this, they will see that our hearts don’t always speak honestly to us and you are not only the TRUTH but you are the LIGHT on a very narrow path that’s far too easy to stray from.
Thank you for your guidance. Cover us with your peace and help us to seek your wisdom and find clarity we long for.