Take - Who Are You And What Have You Done With Bill
Take - Who Are You and What Have You Done With Bill?
2 Tim 4:5
But you — keep your eye on what you're doing; accept the hard times along with the good; keep the Message alive; do a thorough job as God's servant. The Message
Sometimes we have things we want and in order to get them, we have to take the yoke necessary to reach our goals. God will use the desires of our heart to get His work done but it usually means we have to do things outside our comfort zone, accept the hard times with the good, and stay focused.
One afternoon several months ago, I got a call from my 16-year-old nephew Bill. “Aunt Cheryle, don’t we need some nephew aunt bonding time? I think I want to learn how to evangelize.”
“Bill,” I asked suspiciously. “Where is this going? Are you asking to go on the next missionary journey?”
“Yes,” he said. “I was thinking that maybe we could go to the New York area. It seems like they need to hear about God.”
Bill is the nephew that never outgrew me. I adore all four of my nephews and started taking them on trips as soon as they were potty trained, could swim, and go a few days without whining. As they each got older, girlfriends, jobs, sports teams, and other activities took them away. I was expecting it and warned them it would happen. I even told them that it should happen and as long as they occasionally loaned me their children to play with, I would be fine. They all promised they would never outgrow me, but only Bill kept the promise. I imagine Bill and I will be traveling together when he is my age.
Actually, Bill is the most like me. He loves music and school. His main spiritual gift is prophesy, which can make him a bit blunt at time. He thinks deeply about things and loves to wax philosophic. His moods can go from high to low in under two minutes. Reading and video games are favorite pastimes but can’t compete with hiking in the woods or going to a zoo. Bill and I never run out of things to talk about or do. I wasn’t surprised that Bill wanted to travel with me. I was just a little suspicious of the motives.
“So what’s going on in New York?” I asked.
He hemmed and hawed for a few minutes and finally admitted that his best friend’s mother had bought him a ticket to a Dispatch concert. Apparently, Dispatch is a band. Several of his friends and their parents were going to New York to hear them perform. Bill needed a way to get to Madison Square Garden on July 14.
“So you are using me,” I teased.
“Well,” he said. “It might look like that but I wouldn’t do it if what I said weren’t true. You live in Phoenix now and we do need time together. I really do want to learn how to evangelize.”
“Bill,” I said. “On these journeys, I go where ever people suggest I go. I can go to New York just as easily as I can go anywhere else. I’d love to take you under certain conditions.”
“Shoot,” he said.
“First, I’m leaving Jacksonville for the International Christian Retailer’s Show in Atlanta on July 7th. I get a second ticket and need someone to help me promote my books. The dates work out for us to go to Atlanta and then drive on to New York. I have to be back in Jacksonville by July 26 for a speaking engagement so we can travel up and down the east coast. Are you willing to go that long and to help me at the show?”
“Yes,” he said.
“Next,” I continued. “This is a working trip for me and not a vacation. I talk to people throughout the day. I write until way into the night and it needs to be quiet. I seriously want you to help me with my work during the day and to find something to do while I work at night. Can you do that?”
“Sure can,” he said. “Is that all?”
“No,” I said. “This is perhaps the most serious request of all. I have to constantly prepare spiritually for what I do. I pray, meditate, and read my Bible every morning. I listen to my worship CD’s as I travel. I pray every time I stop. I visit in churches as I travel. I want you to promise to stay spiritually fit on this trip. That means waking up every morning doing devotions. It means praying for the people we talk with. It means praying for America as we pass through it. ”
Bill hesitated. I knew what the problem was. We have different tastes in music. “Maybe I’ll bring headphones and listen to my own music,” he finally said. I laughed. We had deal. We left together on Saturday morning, July 7th for a three week trip up and down the east coast.
So far, Bill has mostly kept his word. Every morning, he disappears with his journal and devotional materials. He has either joined in the conversations or prayed for me while I talked with people. Don’t get me wrong. We’ve had our moments. Halleluiah is small for two people and Bill and I have definitely gotten a little grumpy at times. Each time an issue came up, we talked it out and cleared the air. I have to admit that I haven’t had the heart to force my music upon him but in everything else, it has been mostly as planned. Perhaps the most surprising element of the trip so far was Bill at the International Christian Retailers Show. There, he truly took the yoke of helping promote my books.
The first surprise was Bill’s willingness to dress up. The dress code for the trade show was business casual. Seeing Bill in kaki pants, a collared shirt, and a belt was a treat. He even wore the button that said, Ask Me About Pocket Full of Christmas. Each day, I was proud to walk beside such a well dressed young man.
Bill quickly learned how to work a crowd. He talked to everyone. He walked up to each booth and asked about their products. He played with Christian video games, talked to people about their dreams and goals for their products, and listened to writer’s give the plot to their next books. The business of the Christian world fascinated him. When people asked why he was there, he told them about my books. The show was huge and yet by the second day, everywhere we went, people recognized and spoke to Bill. Throughout the show, people stopped me and said, “So you’re Bill’s aunt.”
“I sure am,” I would say proudly.
“He is so cute,” they would say. “I love the hair.” (Bill’s long curly hair is memorable and definitely his trademark.)
“Yes, he is,” I would say. “But he’s as attractive on the inside as he is on the outside. He’s a good boy and a serious Christian.”
One woman responded, “You’re right about that. He spent some time with my 13-year-old son. Later, my son remarked that there was something different about Bill. I told him that he was seeing Christ in him. I was grateful that my son got to meet Bill.”
Another man said, “He sure is proud of your books. I can’t wait to come to your book signing.”
I responded, “Bill is one of the reasons the first book was written. He pushed me and held me accountable to deadlines. He is in the dedication.”
The book signing went the way every author dreams. I was allotted an hour and there was a line almost the entire time. I gave away all 150 books plus some I had in my brief case. The year before, I had taken 100 books and was only able to give away 75. Retailers came up and said, “Your nephew Bill sent me over here. He told me how great the book was. I can’t wait to read it.”
As I watched this well dressed, charming, budding sales person work the tradeshow floor, I wondered who he was and what he had done with Bill. Could this be the same person who I constantly reminded to speak up and not mumble? Where was the person who preferred a faded black t-shirt, ragged shorts, and shoes with holes? Bill wanted to go to the concert in New York and he took seriously the yoke necessary to get there. God used his desire to go to a Dispatch concert to help Bill learn some new skills that will be useful in the kingdom of God. In the process, Bill served God, enjoyed himself, and discovered talents he didn’t know he had. God also delighted me with Bill’s company. That sounds like a win for everyone. We’re already planning next year’s show. I think I’ll get a t-shirt that says, Bill’s Aunt.
To see pictures of Bill at the trade show, go to the photo gallery and look up Georgia - Atlanta – International Christian Retailers Show.