“Let us not become very in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” – Galatians 6:9
Fourteen years ago my sister Shelli told me about a co-worker and his family that were moving into our neighborhood: Billy and Rebecca. They had two children close in age to mine, and Shelli thought we would get along. I remember how excited my sister was for us to meet! So my husband, Paul, and I invited them over for dinner. Our friendship grew gradually, Paul and I prayed for our new friends to want to know God and come to our church. Our oldest boys went to kindergarten together and our two younger children went to preschool together. This made it easy for us to stay connected. The preschool our children attended was Christian-based, and I remember noticing that Rebecca would often go to the preschool worship time with the kids. To me, this was a sign of hope that Rebecca was open to God. However, there was a sense of caution I felt from her whenever we talked about spiritual things. I knew it would take time to build trust in our friendship for her to feel safe and open-up. As some of you may know, time flies when you have children. Before we knew it, we had been building this friendship for many years. It became a regular routine to spend time together even though they had not been to church for the first six years of our friendship. Our best friends from church, Katie and Patrice, became some of their best friends also. The six of us began to hang-out together regularly. I felt like our relationships grew organically with them and our lives started to merge with each others over the years. We spent so much time with them that they started by sending their children, Trip and Leila, to teen camp with our kids. Eventually they started going to marriage retreats with us as well. Yet during this time, they were not ready to study the Bible. Their son, Trip, however, started to study the Bible with my son, Ethan. After a year of studying, he became a disciple. This was so crazy to me as I realized how amazing Gods plans are compared to our plans and our timing.
Shortly after Trip’s baptism, Billy and Rebecca were ready to study the Bible with us. Their children had been going to teen camp for the past five years, and they had already been to at least four marriage retreats. Needless to say, God had opened the door and trust in our friendship had been well established at this point. What this resulted in was a very open and deep Bible study where we discussed many topics that Billy and Rebecca had thoughts on. It was challenging to me and my faith as we went deep into many controversial subjects in the Bible. We studied off-and on for two years. At different times I would get my hopes up seeing their faith grow and then feel faithless when studies stalled, they took time to process what they were learning. I am grateful to have shared this time with my husband, Paul, and Katie and Patrice, as we spurred each other on in faith and good deeds and prayer; there was a lot of prayer. Through the years of our friendship we have shared many of life’s valleys together. We have experienced battling cancer, loss of a parent, sudden loss of a job, intense parenting struggles, crazy sledding accidents resulting in broken bones, Christmas parties, tons of laughter, card games, vacations together, tears, and lots of meals, to name a few things.
Billy and Rebecca had become family to us before they became our brother and sister in Christ. I remember visualizing their baptism for literally years. On the day of their baptism the sun was shining, and I kept pinching myself. This was really happening! We were getting to baptize some of our closest, best friends with some of our closest, best friends. God had moved! It was a long road, fourteen years, but a needed road, and I wouldn’t trade or want to change any of it. God’s timing is always the best timing. “So we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.” – 1 Thessalonians 2:8