Paying It Forward

Dr. Jon Roebuck, Executive Director

I’m one of those people who believe that our life stories are always being written by God into a much greater narrative.  In other words, some moments that we hardly think twice about, are a part of God’s plan for something greater that He is doing.  I often tell people that God is weaving the tread of our life story into a much larger tapestry designed to change hearts and lives.  And sometimes, we are privileged to catch a glimpse of God at work.  There is great joy in knowing that our lives are being used by God and connected in some exciting ways.  I had one of those serendipitous moments last week…

In the midst of the election turmoil that filled the nation with angst and uncertainty, my family was busy celebrating one of the great days that we will long remember.  Our son and daughter-in-law welcomed their 2nd daughter into the world.  Her name is Lydia and she is healthy and strong and we are blessed beyond measure.  She is our third granddaughter.  But here’s where the story of “paying it forward” got woven into the story.  While in the hospital, my daughter-in-law picked up the phone to order her meal from food services.  The kind lady on the other end of the conversation took her order and asked for her name and room number.  When she said her last name was Roebuck, the lady hesitated for a moment and asked, “Are you related to Pastor Roebuck?”  (As most of you know, I pastored Woodmont Baptist Church here in Nashville for the past 17 years.) She said, “Yes. He’images-1s my father-in-law.”  The lady on the phone then replied, “He built my house about 2 years ago and participated in the dedication service.”  Her home is located in an area of town where Habitat for Humanity has built a number of sturdy, affordable homes.  I had been a part of the Habitat team that built her home.  My daughter-in-law then replied, “I was also a part of that team.  I too helped to build your home.”  It was a nice moment when the connection between builder and owner was made.  (I’m pretty sure my daughter-in-law got really good service that morning!)

Who knew?  Who knew that something we had done a couple years previous would be remembered on the day our granddaughter was born? Who knew that the one serving the meal would be the same one who 2 years earlier had been served herself by my daughter-in-law’s Habitat involvement?  Simply stated… God knew.  No… it was not some great life-changing, destiny altering moment, but it was interesting the see the connecting points.  What some would suggest was just a wild coincidence, is seen by others as the intentional working of God.  It happens all the time in the presence of those who have the eyes of faith with which to see. God can be seen in the everyday experiences of life, carefully arranging people, place, and moment.

I had an old ethics professor in Seminary who used to say, “You have to be willing to plant a few trees in whose shade you will never rest.”  I think he’s right.  We are called to do good deeds and compassionate acts, not for the glory we will receive or the pats on the back we might feel… we are called to do Kingdom things because they are the right things to do.  We don’t serve the world for the sake of self-adulation.  We serve the world because our faith compels us to do so.  And when those moments do occur… when we see how our hands become the hands of God, we should pause to reflect for a moment, grateful that we have been honored to be used of God.