Discipleship and Bob

Another man, like Billy, who invested much time into my life is Bob. Bob went to be with the Lord is August of 2014. A mutual friend of Bob and I asked me to the following questions in April of 2015. It finally seems that the Lord has helped me to order my thoughts in a reply to the following two questions.

 

Could you summarize your relationship with Bob in a way that would explain how he viewed discipleship? 

My relationship with Bob, as it relates to discipleship, began in August of 1989. That was the month before he and Kim were married. The three of us, along with my 3-year old son, Kyle, and two other men had lunch at a Mexican restaurant in Evansville. Bob enjoyed Mexican food a lot.

That day, as soon as our orders had been placed, Bob asked one of the other two men at the table, “What is God doing in your life?” This man was stumbling a bit to find an answer when the other man, Chuck, interrupted. “Ask Rick that question,” he said to Bob. Bob leaned across the table and looked me in the eyes, “So, what is God doing in your life?” he asked.

My reply was not what Bob expected, but in hindsight I know it was what he was looking for; it represented what he wanted to invest in. “Bob, I hardly know you from most anyone else in this place (restaurant). But, I will tell you this. My 10 month old son, Adam, is in isolation right now. He may even be dead. He has meningitis, and he is in a coma. My wife is with him. She and I have had to make a decision, to answer a question the Lord has brought us to in this moment. Will we go on trusting God even if our son dies? Psalm 18:28-29 is our answer. We have written it on a card and placed it on his crib. It reads, ‘You, oh Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light. With Your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall.’ You see I don’t know what is going on in your life. But, Donna and I have decided regardless of what happens we are going on with God. We will trust Him,” I said.

Kyle and I were understandably the first to leave lunch that day. Soon after finishing our meals, we needed to head back to the hospital to relieve Donna from being with Adam through the night. I thanked Chuck for inviting us to lunch, and I thanked Bob and Kim for having lunch with us. Before I walked away, Bob said to me, “Let’s stay in touch. I want to know more about the Lord in your life.”

The thing Bob heard, and didn’t expect, was intensity for the Lord. Donna and I were taking a lick from the world system, and we were staying the course with Jesus. Based upon this intensity for a Person, Bob would soon begin to invest time in me. The following spring he and I began to make the most of any time we could together. We talked often on the phone, sometimes weekly. I occasionally took vacation days on Wednesdays to drive to Hardin (and back) to work the sausage route with Bob in western Kentucky. His dad, Glenn, would give me his seat on the route for the day. It was an honor, a sacrifice I will never forget Glenn made for me to give up this time with his son. The regularity of these intentional meetings between Bob and I would continue for more than 15 years.

Almost without exception, the last thing Bob and I would say to one another after one of our face-to-face meetings was, “You are not the same man as the last time I looked you in the eye.” I think it was one of the most encouraging things we ever said to one another. It encouraged us both to faithfulness to know another faithful guy was watching our heart.

From our first meeting in 1989, I saw Bob invest himself in many men he recognized as having an unusual level of faithfulness to God while walking in a tough place. These men fit Bob’s idea of discipleship. The apostle Paul said it this way, “The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also,” 2 Timothy 2:2. Faithfulness under pressure was what Bob was looking for. It was what he invested in. It was what he encouraged. He would set aside very little time for other kinds of earthly relationships.

 

(As it relates to discipleship) how would you express ideas Bob taught, principles that were important to him and how his influence encouraged you to action and not simply thought?

Be more of a friend to God than to anyone else, always. Read the book (Bible) to know a Person. Be so sure of God (based upon regular time with Him) that you will not change your mind about Him, even if they hang you from your toes. You will be misunderstood if you live by His life. Make the most of your time, measure things in terms of how much time it takes to have that (thing, activity)… those were some of the strongest principles Bob instilled in me.

Jesus and the stewardship of time were the things Bob focused on more than anything else in the 25 years I knew him. For Bob to follow Jesus was an appropriately interwoven thought of relationship and time. Following required his constant mental and physical effort.

I have come to see the same in the way Jesus lived while among mankind. Living by the Father’s life can be understood as time in relationship with God pouring over onto others. But, note the order. Bob did, and he taught me to do the same.


1 Comment

  1. Jonathan

    This was good. I shared what you taught this weekend from Genesis to my class this morning. Such good, practical stuff. Time in the Book for the purpose of knowing Him, and being intentional about living with that direct, inner awareness of His life in ours, that’s “time in relationship with God” which allows Him to “pour over onto others”. I am glad I remembered to check this out! And thanks for sharing your thoughts this weekend! I took a lot home.

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