Bruce Cox and Don Ferrill are two cousins I haven’t seen in decades. In different family conversations their names come up from time to time, but since we were children gathered in a little front room around a Christmas tree in Sidney, Texas our paths seldom cross. For our adult lives, 700 to 1000 miles have separated us.
Last week I spent another 700 miles north in South Dakota with Christians I’ve known over the past 30 plus years. Janet and I were in our motorhome, the Hindenberg (it is big, grey and a probable disaster) camped in a church parking lot where I would be preaching the next morning. A friend dropped by to tell me that another camper would be joining us that night, from Texas.
He really stopped to tell me that those camping next to us would be Aggies. In a few minutes a little camper pulled up and we met Karey and Hank Hayes. We exchanged greetings and we got their unit hooked up to utilities.
Exchanging history to get to know one another, Hank mentioned he had gone to vet school at Texas A&M. I attempted to make a connection, “While I am a Longhorn fan since 1963, I do have extended family who attended A&M, a daughter in law, a number of cousins… In fact, my first cousin Bruce Cox attended vet school there. Hank’s face looked shocked. He knew a Bruce Cox. I clarified that Bruce’s dad was a dentist. ‘In Waxahachie’, he concluded. I know another cousin of your’s, Don Ferrill. They are dear friends.
Thus began my week, connections through relationships.
My good friend, Bruce Goodwin, taught class last week and I preached for the Northern Hills church in Spearfish, SD. That presented a foundation for a number of Bible talks throughout the week between us. I crave those discussions as Bible students explore the meanings and understandings of Scripture, looking for application in our day-to-day lives. It is especially meaningful with Bruce as we have been having these talks for about 35 years.
Who we are, our values, actions, passions, and inclinations become more pronounced, and clearly manifest themselves through our relationships. It is in the context of relationships that we become real with one another. Our deepest desires, most passionate needs and even the darkest secrets are revealed, rewarded and hopefully regulated by the ones we allow closest to us.
In the context of deep relationship, Scripture teaches that we are to confess our faults, pray, forgive and grow. The Bible is set in the language of families, relationships, and connection. Finally then my brethren…. Beloved, understand this… My brothers, these things ought not to be so… …loved him like a brother… ’Greetings Rabbi!’ And kissed him. ‘Friend’, Jesus asked him, ‘why have you come?’
We see so much more clearly, the impact and significance of thoughts, behaviors and actions when they are silhouetted against the backdrop of the trust, love, and expectations of those we love the most.
Brothers who cast Joseph in the pit, then Joseph’s forgiveness years later in Egypt. Jonathan’s testimony to David that one day David would be first and Jonathan would be second in the kingdom. Samuel’s running to Eli as he hears the voice in the darkness. These are all occasions when character, trust, and confidence shine through brightly.
So, in your closest relationships, what is evident about your life? Relationships form over superficial things, common work relationships, interests in sports or recreation, or having children of similar ages. But the meaning, the significance of the relationship is defined in what it says about you.