Sometimes people change your life and they don’t even know they are doing it. Sometimes you don’t even know it until way after it happens.
The Bellers are a couple that fit that description in my life.
Debbie and Ronnie Beller live in a modest home outside a tiny town in south central Missouri. Unless you know them or me, you wouldn’t know the name of the town if I said it. I mean real tiny. I grew up going to church camp with their daughter, and Debbie volunteered at a lot of those weeks of camp. I always had huge respect for them as a couple. Debbie was an elementary school teacher. Ronnie helps run an outdoor adventure ministry, and we took our youth group there for retreats and stuff sometimes when we lived in Saint Louis. I preached at their church once. We were good friends, but not talk-once-a-week friends.
All that stuff is not how they changed my life.
Five years ago, I was in the middle of a ministry transition. That transition eventually led me to Katy, Texas, where I now live and serve. But before that, in September of 2010, I was stressed out and in need of some perspective. I needed to get away. I needed some silence. I needed to pray a lot, and take walks down gravel roads, and read my Bible. I needed to ask God what was next for my family and I. I needed some space. I needed to get out of the suburbs and sabbath a bit.
So I called the Bellers.
In that tiny town by that modest home the Bellers had converted their garage into a little one bedroom cabin. It was perfect for what I needed. I got my peace and quiet. I had uninterrupted time to pray. I had some lunch meat, some gravel roads, a pen and paper, and plenty of time to seek God’s will for my life. The Bellers greeted me warmly, let me know they were praying right along with me, and then left me alone. I had a sky full of stars, a comfy bed, and some uncomfortable days of thinking through what God might be up to with my life and career.
After three days of prayer and Bible study and solitude, I knew my family was in for a big change. That was the beginning of it all, right there in the Beller cabin.
Nine months later I was driving a U-Haul truck from Saint Louis, Missouri to Katy, Texas. In the months that would follow there would be loneliness and second-guessing. We’d wonder if we’d made the right choice. But eventually after a big move like that you settle in and you realize that good things are seldom easy. Five years later, even though it’s been difficult to be away from home, there’s no doubt in my mind it was the right move.
It all started in the Beller cabin.
We never know when we’re participating in a pretty significant moment, a moment that will change lives. Sometimes we get caught up in the big things we can do for the Kingdom or for others. But sometimes little things are what makes the big difference. So offer up your garage apartment, make the hospital visit, go to the play. Send the note of encouragement, take someone out to lunch, be a good friend.
That’s what the Bellers were. They were available. They weren’t super stars. No spotlights. They weren’t fancy conference speakers. They don’t have a podcast, a Vimeo channel, or a blog. They were just good friends. They were generous. They were kind. They were there.
If I’ve ever done anything good in this life, it’s got very little to do with me. It’s got more to do with folks like the Bellers. So thanks to all the Bellers out there who have helped me along the way. I hope I’m living my life likewise, and I hope everyone will be available today to change someone’s life.
Even if you don’t realize you’re doing so.