How Did We Get Here?
By Pastor Josh Wamble
Have you ever been on a trip, gotten off the Interstate, and turned onto a highway only to find yourself wondering, “What would life have been like if I had grown up in this town—in that house?” Or, “I wonder how my life would have been different if I had gone to this school and had different friends, teachers, and coaches or if my family had been members of that church with different friends, Sunday School teachers, and pastors.”
When you think about it, our lives are made up of a succession of small interactions with various people, situations, and events. Each of these episodes end up shaping us and forming us into the people that we are. I grew up in a small town in West TN, Trenton, and really am who I am today because God used the people in that town to form me. I moved away to college and was influenced by the teachers and friends that I met there. I moved to Louisville, KY for graduate school and ended up in Fairdale, KY for some 12 years and am still being changed by the people I have met here.
I have been influenced and changed in innumerable ways by friends I went to school with like Will and Brian and Patrick, Luke and Jana and Cicily, Clint and Derek and J-Raz. I have been influenced and changed in innumerable ways by coaches like Tim Haney, Jim Nunelley, and Todd Lumley and by teachers like Faye Parnell, Mrs. Nowell, Geraldine Taylor, Broeck Horner, Ray VanNeste, Brad Green, and many others. I have been influenced and changed in innumerable ways by the pastors and people in the churches I have been a part of like Walter Lockhart, Lee Tankersley, and Josh Powell, Josh Greene, Bob and Raymie Samuels, Russell and Linda McDaniel, Tony and Kathi Burriss, Bob Barton, Bettie Lou Powell, Bruce and Dorothy Niven, Jodi Marsh, and Annette Darnell just to name a few. I have also had many coworkers like Mr. Mast, Venus Sudduth, Chris Harper, Brett O’Laughlin, and Tim Ferree who have made a deep impact on me. And, if I had grown up in a different house, in a different town or if I had gone to a different school in a different place the influences and shapers of my life would have been completely different. Even with the same family, in many ways, I would have ended up as a different person.
It is neat to think that God uses all of these people in all of our lives to form us into the people that he would have us to be, but it is even neater to realize that He not only uses them but also plans them and sets them in place. In Acts 17:26, Paul says, “And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place.” That means that not only does God use the people around us but he plans for us to be in certain places at certain times.
God decided and planned for you and me to be born where we were and when we were. He decided that your neighbor would be your neighbor and that your coworker would be your coworker. He decided that your pastor would be your pastor and your church family would be your church family. And, he did this for a reason. Romans 8 says that He is working all of these things together so that we would be conformed to the image of his Son, Jesus. God has you where you are so that all of these people around you would be agents of change in your life influencing you in different ways to make you slowly and gradually more and more like Jesus.
Finally not only has he put them in your life for this reason, but he has put you in their lives for the very same reason. God has planned it and worked it out so that the gas station attendant and the grocery store checker and the Wal-Mart employee are here in this place and this time so that you might have an influence on them.
As we go about our everyday lives this new year, let us look for ways that we might influence those around us for Christ and openings through which we might speak to people around us about Christ. God has placed us here and now for this very purpose.