This is a story about Jeff, but Jeff is not the star of the story.
Jeff was 15 and an atheist when a couple of guys in his class started inviting him to church and talking to him about God. They’d been friends already for a few years, sharing an interest in wrestling and other Jr. High boy stuff. But after Jeff’s mom passed away from cancer, he was hurting.
His friends either intuitively sensed his need for something meaningful or purposefully set out on a mission. Neither would’ve happened if they hadn’t been paying attention. But they were.
The guys in his class were twin brothers, Matt and Steven Webster, and they were in my small group Bible study. The invited Jeff to come, too. So one night, Jeff showed up in my living room. He was willing to think and talk about God, but he was not a believer. Not yet. But the twins had made the introduction.
But Matt and Steven are not the star of this story.
And while I enjoyed hanging out with Matt, Steven, Jeff, and the other dudes in our group, I am not the star of this story, either.
No, there’s only one star in this story, and his name is Jesus.
Jeff didn’t know it, but Jesus pursued him for years — before his mom passed away, before he met the twins, before he ever stepped foot in my living room.
As he grieved the loss of his mother and wrestled with adolescence and struggled with his dad working as an over-the-road truck driver, Jeff needed help. He needed friends. Jesus brought the mother load.
He was welcomed into our church family (even as an unbeliever). He thought through faith in new ways. He came to know Christ. He committed his life to him. He stumbled and sinned and continued to struggle with adolescence.
But he still had the twins. He still plopped down on my couch almost every week. He still relied on Jesus. Our small group walked through a lot together.
I was at Jeff’s high school graduation (he graduated with his buddies, Matt and Steven), and sat at Denny’s with him and his dad after that. I got the $2 biscuits and gravy. I mourned with Jeff when his dad passed away. I was at Jeff’s wedding, where he was beaming with joy as he committed to his bride.
And last weekend, Jeff graduated from Bible college. He posted a picture of himself with the twins, crediting them with walking through it all with him. I was moved by the picture, which is a gorgeous portrait of student ministry, the Gospel, and the relentless love of Jesus, all summarized in the faces of three buddies who have been on a long trek together.
This is a story about Jeff’s life, but Jeff isn’t the star of the story.
Matt and Steven played a huge role, but they aren’t the star either.
The Church, our small group, various mentors along the way — they’ve all come alongside Jeff and got him to the point he’s at. His wife, his brother, his parents who were gone too soon — they all contributed.
But none are the stars.
The star of this story is Jesus, who chased after Jeff and wouldn’t quit.
Some would say this is a sad story — a story about cancer and abandonment and loneliness and barely making ends meet. But Jesus is good at making sad stories into good stories, and making bad news into Good News.
Because when Jesus is the star of your story, there’s no such thing as an unhappy ending.