As I mentioned last week, I recently returned to my college homecoming. I had seen on Facebook that there was a group planning a get-together before the football game at Van’s Pig Stand, a local and student favorite. I decided to meet up with the group.
I had no idea what I was walking into…
There were several couples with their children who showed up, all of whom had actually graduated before I arrived on campus. (It felt good to be the youngest!!). In addition, Merka Man and McCrary showed up.
Let me take a few minutes to introduce you to Merka Man and McCrary.
Merka Man is from Texas, and he has a personality the size of Texas! He enjoyed his time at OBU so much that he extended his stay to five, six, maybe even seven years. I really think his degree was in Vanology (the study of Van’s Pig Stand). He claims that he saved money by eating there! I am really surprised they don’t have a special addition named after him—or at least his picture gracing the walls with his friend, Alan (who was also present at our reunion with a couple of his kids). He should at least be on their advertising payroll for the number of Facebook posts he makes about Van’s.
Then there’s McCrary. McCrary and I entered OBU at the same time. We both donned our Freshman beanies together. (I will point out, however, that he is also older than me…even if it is only by one day.) McCrary also has a BIG personality. He has spent his entire adult life in youth ministry, which means that he doesn’t ever want to grow up. And, he’s done a pretty good job of remaining a kid, at heart.
When you get Merka Man and McCrary in a room together, it’s going to be loud. It’s going to be unfiltered. There are going to be discussions on theology. There will be more discussions about politics. Nothing will be off-limits. There will be laughter. Lots of laughter. And, there will be reminiscing about our days on Bison Hill.
You know, I spend a lot of time with teenage boys…and their juvenile sense of humor. I find myself writing about loogies and farts. I get lost in conversations that take strange twists and turns to places I never dreamed I’d go. And, it’s very normal in my life.
And that’s why I was so comfortable with Merka Man and McCrary…
Somehow, in the presence of their boisterous personalities, in their love of juvenile humor, my demure exterior faded away. I was lost in the midst of their humor. I was unfiltered. I was queen of the one-liners.
From Clinton era politics to the ills of our local churches… From the sordid details of my marriage to the often strange experiences of the medical field… From our days on Bison Hill to the details of our careers… From my hunting endeavors to my blog… Nothing was off-limits. Nothing was sacred. Nothing was filtered. Nothing was politically correct.
And I will never live it down.
For three solid hours, we talked and laughed. As I left Van’s that day, I was blessed to have reconnected with these two. I had a smile on my face, and the laughter continued for days. I told them clearly that what happens at Van’s stays at Van’s, but they seem oblivious to this unwritten rule. Instead, they continue to harass me on Facebook as I continue to toss zingers right back at them.
In all reality, these two men are great guys. They love God wholly and completely. They seek to follow God and hold unswervingly to the truth of God’s word. They live their lives for an audience of the One. They walk the talk. They laugh loudly and they love deeply. They live life to the fullest.
And it’s a blessing to know them.
It’s fun to have friends that allow you to let your hair down, to laugh, to have fun. It’s great to have friends who see your heart and allow you to be yourself, to be unfiltered. It’s great to have friends who accept you for who you are.
And Merka Man and McCrary are some of those friends.
As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. Proverbs 27:17
God created us to live in relationship with others. He knows that being around other Christians will strengthen our faith, encourage our walks. It’s important for us to be around non-Christians so that his love can shine through us, but it’s also important for us to be around strong Christians who can sharpen us, even correct us.
My time at OBU was a time of great spiritual growth, in large part because I was surrounded by other Christians seeking God with their whole hearts. It was the first time I’d ever been around so many strong believers, and my walk with God reflected the encouragement that I was receiving. All of those amazing people sharpened me, quickened my spirit, showed me how to seek him with my whole heart.
While social media has its dangers, it also has its benefits. I’m so thankful that I’ve been able to reconnect with so many amazing people from my days at OBU. My life is truly blessed.
Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. Hebrews 10:23-25
We are supposed to think about ways to motivate one another, to find ways to push each other to be better Christians. We are supposed to spend time together—in church. But, isn’t the church just a group of Christians? Can’t church be conducted at Van’s Pig Stand?
We are closer than ever to the return of Christ. But, are we living as if his return is imminent? Are we motivating one another to walk closer, to seek him whole-heartedly?
When we were together at Van’s as a group of believers, we found ourselves laughing and encouraging one another, even if it was just through the reminiscing of old times in college. I walked away stronger, encouraged, ready to face another day. I walked away a better Christian for having had the opportunity to laugh and be myself fully and completely.
Isn’t that what Christ wanted? We know he wants us to live an abundant life. We know he wants us to live in relationship with one another. Who are you doing life with? Are your friends encouraging you to walk a little closer to God each and every day? If not, you need to find those friends who will. For his return is drawing near.
I wish everyone could find friends like I have from my time at OBU. I wish everyone was blessed with at least one Merka Man or McCrary in their lives. I am blessed to have some amazing friends. I pray that you, too, have a couple of big personalities that bring out the best in you.
Thank you, Merka Man and McCrary, for giving me such a blessing.