A Walk to Remember
I recently returned to the town where I grew up and walked through a favorite childhood hangout called Spring Rock Park. There I sledded in winter, spent hours with my buddies, and played lots of games of Little League baseball. Walking past the old diamonds, I observed the signboards with the names of recent members of championship little league teams. I noticed several familiar last names: Feeney, Dixon, McNamara and more. Were they actually the sons of my old grade-school friends? It’s hard to say, but it was not inconceivable that “Winkler” might have been posted on those Little League rosters had it not been for the very abrupt and rather inconvenient intersection of God’s amazing plan that so thoroughly interfered with my life plans in college.
I Never Longed to See the World
Growing up, I never really wanted to leave my hometown. I loved it, and always expected to get married, raise a family, grow old, and die there. Unlike many others, I never longed to “see the world” or dreamed about visiting exotic places. I did not even own a passport until forced to get one at the age of 22 when God called me overseas for the first time to spend a summer sharing my faith in Budapest, Hungary.
In for the Ride of My Life
That’s when God decided to change my very small plan for a much bigger one. I had no idea I was in for the ride of my life—and what ride it has been! I’ve been behind the iron curtain to share my faith before it fell. I’ve taught in Trinidad and walked the streets of Vienna and Salzburg, seen Hitler’s eagle’s nest and Mussolini’s profile in the German Alps.
Together, my wife and I have been to what was then the highest airport in the world as well as to the Amazon jungle in Bolivia, South America and eaten wild armadillo. (It tastes like chicken, by the way.) We have walked upon the place where the Incas offered up virgins to appease their demonic bloodthirsty gods, claiming that tragic place for Jesus Christ, quoting the scriptures in a rebuke to their pagan and godless ways. We have ridden elephants in Thailand, stood upon the Great Wall of China, explored the jungles of Borneo and seen real skulls of tribal people who were killed in headhunting raids but later embraced the gospel of Christ and were radically transformed.
And besides our regular teaching and training ministry in Singapore, we have ministered in Manila, developed leaders in Mongolia and Korea, seen the Holy Land, taught in Turkey and toured the seven churches in the book of Revelation, performed a wedding, then preached and taught in Myanmar (Burma), as well as in Thailand, India, and several other places I can’t name.
Looking back now, I shudder to think what I might have missed because I erroneously thought I had bigger plans for my life than God, plans to do nothing more than live, grow old, and die in the same small town. As much as I wanted it, that simply wasn’t His plan for my life.
The Christian life is not boring!
People sometimes think being a Christian is boring. They claim there are too many life experiences that are “off limits” if they decide to follow Jesus. But they are dead wrong. Nothing is more dangerous, more breathtaking, and more exciting than walking closely with the Lord—even when doing so means you spend your entire life in the same small town. As long as God calls you to do it, then He has you on a grand adventure of faith where every day brings a new opportunity to discover more about Him and tell others around you about the untold wonders of His indescribable love. If you are willing to follow Him without reservation, no matter where He takes—or keeps—you, then get ready for the ride of your life.