Friendships are discovered rather than made.
Harriet Beecher Stowe
What does it mean to have a relationship with someone? We dip in and out of relationships throughout our lives. People come and go. We may start a subconscious list of “requirements” for people we are (or want to be) in a relationship with. But people disappoint. No one will ever meet all our needs. At least that's what I thought, until I started a relationship with Jesus. It only took me 40-some years.
I was raised in Iowa, in the church. I knew about God and his son. I knew the stories. I was baptized, confirmed ... and left as soon as I was on my own. I had so many doubts. I didn’t understand how I would ever meet His expectations when I knew I was sinning on a regular basis. I didn’t know about faith, just deeds.
Fast-forward two decades. My husband and I had been living in Minnesota for two years. We'd lost a dear friend to cancer, our jobs consumed our lives, and we had past hurts and shame that continued to burden our marriage.
I met Colleen at a going-away party for a friend moving to Michigan. My friend had been asking me to join her Bible study group for over a year, and she spoke so highly of a woman named Colleen. I had no desire to go to a party with her group ... but I didn’t want to disappoint her, so I came.
Colleen was hosting. She welcomed me into her home, and the others also welcomed me. I listened to their stories with curiosity ... and thought, “Not for me.”
But God had a different plan. My husband and I started attending church after another friend was diagnosed with cancer. After months of uncomfortable Sunday church services, I noticed a woman sitting in church. She was so beautiful, humble, peaceful and kind. It was Colleen. She'd say good morning on Sundays and ask how I was. As time passed, she would ask about our mutual friend and how she was doing in Michigan. It never felt like too much.
She was intriguing. Her calmness intimidated me. I wanted to know what she had that made her so calm and peaceful.
Soon I received a different invitation to Bible study. The common denominator? Colleen. I decided to give it a try. I was going to church regularly by now. I was empty, sad, needing something. What did I have to lose?
Colleen asked if we should ride together, and I instantly thought, NO. Oh my goodness, she is going to figure out all my stuff. I am not ready. I am just starting. What if she asks about my past, my secrets, my current state? But I picked her up and off we headed.
Now, ten years later, I can say God had a plan. He knew I needed a new life, a new perspective, a new friend, and a real relationship ... with Jesus. He knew I needed someone very special to carry out the task, because HE knows my stubbornness.
And as he promises, he gave me everything and more. Not only do I now know and love Jesus above all else, I have a bond and relationship with a woman who never gave up on me. Who saw into my heart when I wouldn’t let anyone in. Who knew my hurt because she had similar hurt. Who gave me a soft hug, a gentle squeeze and never-ending messages of the LOVE my Father has for me. The messages would come in the mail, in an unexpected text, in the form of a knock on the door and a visit. She once came to my workplace 35 miles away to give me flowers and tell me she loved me. The Holy Spirit lives in her like I’ve never experienced, and he is using her for the kingdom.
One fateful evening in July of 2014, she said, “Kathy, we are on a plane, flying to Brooklyn to visit Brooklyn Tabernacle, and the plane is crashing. Then we are standing before Jesus, and he says, ‘Kathy, why should I let you into heaven?’”
I didn’t know how to respond. I thought, My goodness, I’ve been going to Bible Study. Heck, I even host it now. I am filling my head with teachings. I am learning, I am trusting, I am changing things in my life. I’m a good person. What more is there? My response: “I’m a good person. I’ve changed my ways.” Her response, “My darling friend, do you believe that the blood of Christ was shed for you – for your sins?” YES! YES! The tears did not stop falling as I truly surrendered my life to Christ that night at the kitchen table. Colleen held my hand and walked me through the doors to heaven.
The Holy Spirit moved Colleen to show and teach me forgiveness, to feel unconditional love and to trust in The Lord above all else. I used to call Colleen my angel sent from God. I now call her my friend and sister in Christ. She is still my angel, and I know exactly where this angel is going to point me for the answers: straight to the words of the Bible.
Colleen’s mission and vision for Ruby Buckle is a testament to everything she did for me. She gave herself to me through her faith that I could share in her peace, her joy and her hope for the future. And someday we will be together forever in our true home.