"In friendship... we think we have chosen our peers. In reality a few years' difference in the dates of our births, a few more miles between certain houses, the choice of one university instead of another... the accident of a topic being raised or not raised at a first meeting--any of these chances might have kept us apart. But, for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking, no chances. A secret master of ceremonies has been at work. Christ, who said to the disciples, "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you," can truly say to every group of Christian friends, 'Ye have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another.' The friendship is not a reward for our discriminating and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each of us the beauties of others." --
C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves
Although our lives are filled with experiences that make us uniquely--well--us, there are many experiences we share. Since it’s summer, some of those shared experiences might be... the first time we saw the ocean and felt, for the first time, how small we are in comparison to the endless horizon… the first taste of homemade ice cream (blackberry, if we were fortunate)... the first time we had sunburn, the discomfort and the eventual peeling… the first time we went water-skiing and drank half the lake before we managed to stay up on our skis (if we ever did)... the first time we rode a roller-coaster and experienced the thrill of hovering momentarily after cresting the lift hill, taking in the height and questioning our choice, and then the rush as gravity took over… These are things we can continue to experience, especially here in North America.
Of course, there are those truly once in a lifetime experiences… like our first venture to elementary school, proudly sporting our superhero backpack and lunch-bag… the nervous excitement of visiting the DMV for our driver’s license, praying we pass the tests… the sound of Pomp and Circumstance as we process into the auditorium with our class, mortarboards on our heads, tassels still on the right… holding our first nephew or niece… deliberating for days over how to propose to that gal we feel is the one, after the ordeal of speaking to her father about the matter…
There are experiences of spiritual magnitude, as well, which are much more personal: The time you realized your need for a Savior. When you said Yes to baptism. How much it hurt when a leader you respected fell. How challenging it was trusting God after He closed a door, and you had to rethink the direction of your life. The time you realized you still daily need a Savior. The time you realize just how different church liturgy can be. The time you were not quite up to the task of defending a doctrinal position you hold. The struggle of memorizing an entire chapter of a Pauline epistle.
How about this? You are having a conversation with a friend. Over the preceding months, you have invested in this friendship and trust has deepened. The conversation you are having is touching on events, experiences you have never told anyone, but things that profoundly impacted you and shaped your life. You have been holding back on going any deeper. You feel a prompting, hear a voice that says “Go ahead.” So, you risk vulnerability. You go deeper. You share your experience. Your friend responds with, “Yes, I understand completely because I experienced that, too.” In that moment, you feel relief, acceptance, gratitude, and a host of other emotions that overwhelm accompanying the realization that God, that “secret master of ceremonies,” has been at work, orchestrating all the events leading up to that very conversation.
Have you experienced this? You should. Risk vulnerability. Go deep.