After reading a friend's post the other day, I was reminded of a man that I hadn't thought about in awhile. His name is Matt and he was a major influence in my life, from the time I was about 14 until I got married. My sister married a man named Jeff (another major influence in my life) and Jeff's sister is Cindy. Cindy is married to Matt, who is a pastor. You know how the saying goes, you don't just marry the person, you marry the family? In our case, my family and Jeff's family spent a bit more time together than most families related by marriage. I was in my sister's wedding and Matt officiated. I spent time at my sister's home, where Jeff's family often visited and we'd have these great spiritual discussions that went long into the evening (all of these people are Christians and I was a new believer) - I learned a lot. At that time, Matt was the Associate Pastor at a church in Long Beach, CA, and I sometimes went there with my sister.
Later in my teen years, I rebelled and went my own way. My sister and her husband, Jeff, didn't approve of my boyfriend so I stopped spending time at their home (I was SO stupid!) After 4 years of this, I was in bad shape. I didn't want to end the relationship but I didn't want to go on with it. So, one day, I went to see Matt at church. We talked. He knew all about my boyfriend and I told him how I was feeling. He made it very plain - he said, "This guy is making you sick and you can't get well until he is out of your life". Straight talk that I needed to hear - you'd think I could figure out something that simple on my own but sometimes you need someone from the outside to wake you up. I pondered this for a short time and even began to pray about it. The Lord spoke plainly to me as well. A few months later, the situation presented itself and I was ready to end the relationship. I cried for a week. But then, I went to church for the first time in a long time and I couldn't wait to tell Matt - I remember running up to him and saying, "Matt, it's over! I can get well now!" Please believe me, if this sounds weird, it wasn't - it's just what happened!
I continued going to church and became part of the college group. There was one time that I got myself into some mild trouble and Matt actually drove around one Sunday night and found me with friends outside a local restaurant after church. He said, "I want to see you in my office in 10 minutes!" Oh, man! It was worse than facing my own father! He and the college pastor were both there and they talked with me for awhile, giving me some stern advice. It was horrible, I knew I had let Matt down and I decided right then and there to get my act together. He never mentioned it again. I was so relieved and I knew he had forgiven me.
Then my dad died. My dad had a lot of respect for Matt. Matt officiated at my dad's funeral. And he read the words I had written and had hoped to say but couldn't, out of grief. I was so thankful to have a pastor that was personally involved with our family perform the funeral service - I know Dad approved!
A year later, I met the man I would marry at that same church in Long Beach. We had marriage counseling with, who else, Matt. And, of course, Matt performed our wedding ceremony. It was a perfect day for me. How cool it was to have my brother-in-law, Jeff (in place of my Dad), walk me down the aisle to join my waiting husband-to-be and Matt. These three wonderful men in my life were there together - I loved it!
Two years later, Todd and I moved north. Strangely, enough, Matt went north as well, to become the Senior Pastor of a church in Washington. It's 2 hours east of us and we visited his church on his first Sunday there.
I am very thankful the Lord put Matt in my life. In my opinion, there is no one else like him.