The summer before John died, we went back to Wisconsin to visit for a couple weeks. When we lived there, my brothers and I were really close with the all of the neighborhood kids. We were a little clan that ran around the cul-de-sac. We would try to reconnect with all of our friends when we were in town. That summer one of the neighborhood girls was saying what a potty mouth John was. I was in shock! She almost sounded disappointed, saying that John was always the kid telling people not to swear. Swearing was not something my parents did or we were allowed to do. What I find interesting, is even if some people don’t believe the same way you do, it still seems that they look to you to see if you will stay the course, if you will live out your faith loyally.
Naturally, I was in shock so I had to tell someone. I told my mom, really reinforcing my brothers’ accusations of me being a tattle tale. My mom was so upset and told John he wouldn’t be getting his driver’s license if he kept up the swearing. Little did we know how much God would take a hold of John’s life in the next several months.
John began attending a youth group in Parker. For years my mom had prayed that God would provide John with a good friend because the move had been particularly hard on John. He went through a lonely and somewhat depressed period of time. My mom never guessed God would have answered her prayer with a girlfriend.
We were not allowed to date until we were sixteen. So about a week after John turned sixteen, he asked a girl out named Michelle, at his youth group. She said he was so shy and mumbled something about going on a date, so she had to ask him to repeat what he said. The rest is history. John spent so much time and money driving back and forth to Parker to take Michelle on dates. One day when they drove his truck to the movie theater, John got out of the truck. Michelle proceeded to get out of the truck as well and John stopped, looked at her, and said, “What are you doing?” She questioned, “I thought we were going to the movies?” He replied, “Michelle, as long as you are with me, you will never touch another door handle again.” Another time, John took Michelle to Red Lobster. When they ordered, John got one of the only menu items that wasn’t seafood. Michelle asked him why they went to Red Lobster if he didn’t like Seafood. He replied that he had heard from someone that she liked Red Lobster. Michelle said John treated her like a queen.
One of John’s best friends worked with him at Arapahoe Acres, his name is Brandon. One of the things John really wanted was for Brandon to accept Christ as his Savior. Brandon remembers John’s first question to him was, “Chevy or Ford?” John would invite people from work to go to youth group. A co-worker of his told a story about how she was trying to move a really heavy birdbath. John asked her a couple times if she needed help and she repeatedly said no. Well, she ended up dropping the birdbath and it broke into dozens of tiny pieces. John helped her clean it up, without saying anything.
Why do I share these memories with you? I want to show you that the little things in life, the small acts of kindness, do have an impact. The way you treat your family, your girlfriend/boyfriend, and your kids, it matters. How you treat the cashier at the store, the police officer who just pulled you over, or that person at work who gets on your nerves. It matters.
Sometimes not saying anything, speaks the loudest.The girl who remembered the birdbath incident, took one of John’s dirty socks from his room, just because she wanted to take something with her of John’s to remember him by. John’s friend, Brandon, accepted Christ as his Savior after John’s death. Brandon and Michelle eventually married each other and they now have two beautiful daughters and a son in heaven. There are so many others that John’s life touched, too many to write about here and many I won’t ever know about.
John was just an ordinary sixteen year old boy that dedicated his life to God. John would have never imagined that his story would reach hundreds of people, all over the world. I bet John didn’t think how he was living was anything special, just as many of us don’t believe what we do has any real significance, at least not compared to people like Billy Graham. I often have to remind myself that raising a family is just as important as living as a missionary in a third world country.
I’m reminded of 1 Corinthians 12:21 which says, “The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor.” Each of our lives touches so many others. Just because we may not see how we are making a difference, doesn’t mean an impact hasn’t been made.