A conversation with one of those friends I have never met has been on my mind, and as I have thought about him and other friends throughout my life, a verse from one of my favorite Bible stories came to mind. In the book of Esther, Mordecai has come to Esther with the plot by Haman to kill off the Jews and Mordecai urges her to go to the king. Out of fear for her life, she is reluctant. In Esther 4:14, he replies:
" For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"
For such a time as this. What if God brings people into our lives "for such a time as this"? Some may be part of our lives for a short time, and fill a void or are a help and encouragement to us before moving on, others may be lifelong friends who never move on or move away, and are there for us through thick and thin. And what if we are put in someone's life "for such a time as this?" That is kind of a heavy thought for me.... that I, Mark Buzard, could possibly be in someone's life to help them in some way. But it has happened. Yeah, I am just as shocked as you are.....
The year was 2004. I was in a Christian Yahoo chat room and ran onto “John.” Twelve years is too long to remember the particulars, and it seems he has a better memory than I do and can remember more. We started chatting, and somehow the issue of same-sex attractions came up. I voiced that it was something I struggled with, and it turned out that John was dealing with them himself, and not dealing very well. Being able to talk to another Christian guy who knew exactly what it was like seemed heaven-sent to him.
John and I kept in contact for a while, chatting and discussing our mutual problem, and then I lost track of him...until Facebook. One day in 2010 I got a friend request from John, and we started building a closer friendship - as close as two friends can be that live several states apart. We chat, text, talk on the phone, and I would say he is probably the best friend I have who I have never met. More than once, he has brought up how we met in a Christian chat room and how I somehow (my word) found the right words to say to this Christian brother who was hurting so badly and didn't know where to turn. I can't remember what I told him, but God had to have helped me to say the things I needed to say to help him.
And the friendship is beneficial to me. He is a very positive person and inspires and encourages me on a daily basis. He has even revamped my resume' a couple of times for me. We were just talking recently, and a picture I had posted had brought that all back to him how we ended up chatting and he found hope through this very messed up guy. When we first chatted, I had a picture of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse as my Yahoo profile picture for chatting. When I recently posted my vacation pictures from being there, he saw pictures of that same lighthouse and it all came back to him.
God can use anyone and anything, and for John it was a very messed up Christian guy in a Christian chat room that just happened to be dealing with the same issue as he was. It is very possible – very likely – that God had me there for such a time as this to help and encourage a guy I had never met.
Then there is my best friend, Steven. We first met 10 years ago and quickly became best friends. I had never had a best friend before, and it seemed God sent him along when I needed one the most. I think and hope the friendship has been as beneficial to him. Unfortunately, he lives 400 + miles away, so we don't get to see each other very often. (Why does it seem the friends who want to hang out the most with me live far away?!) I know for me, God sent Steven into my life for one of those “for such a time as these” times.... and possibly the same is true of me for him.
We talk often, text a lot, argue, make fun of each other's taste in music and books - at least I make fun of his..... he has become someone I can tell anything to without fear of him turning tail and running. I do believe it was a friendship that didn't just happen, but was orchestrated by God.
And there have been others through the years. Some friends who come and go and helped me through rough patches. Other friends who were close and now are not so close, but were there for me in ways that I'll never forget.
As I sit and think about the people in my life: my fellow church members, my family, the people who I work with and have worked with.....only God knows how much He orchestrates the crossing of paths we have with different people. And that makes me wonder how many people I cross paths with who God may use me to help or encourage in some way. As my “chance” online meeting with John shows, God can use even me to help and encourage someone... someone He may have brought into my life for the sole purpose of me doing that.
For me, that is a sobering thought. Yeah, I know I am the one who said it, but it is still a sobering thought. May God help me to be the kind of man and Christian that I should be so that I can be used by Him however and wherever He wants to use me.
The people in my life: those I go to church with, my family, my friends – on and off of Facebook, the men and women I have met and befriended through the Hope for Wholeness ministry, the patients and visitors I see at the hospital where I work, the sales clerks and wait staff, and all others I cross paths with.......how many of them has God put in my path or life to either help and encourage me, or be helped and encouraged by me?
Only Heaven may reveal who was put in our lives or whose lives we were put in for such a time a this.