Several years back, I got an email. From a guy named Thor. And I was like, “No way, that’s the coolest name ever.” So we met up for coffee at Immaculate Consumption, and I soon discovered that he was as cool as his name.
He told me his story and we became friends instantly. He spoke of his experiences around the world, of the lacking theology of suffering in the American church, and of the pearl of great price. If North Koreans he had known could joyfully be frozen to death because of their faith in Jesus, can’t we face the hardships before us in light of the great reward that lies ahead?
I left our first meeting in tears. Most of all, I saw Jesus in and all over my brother.
Over the years we became dear friends, and as his time in Columbia drew to an end this summer, I didn’t want to acknowledge that he was actually leaving. I made endless jokes about how leaving was dumb. That California was incomparable to the beauty and charm of Columbia, SC.
But then last Friday, after an early morning breakfast with friends and some tearful goodbyes, my friend drove west, racing the sun rising above him. And I miss him already.
I’ve always heard Paul’s analogy of being “poured out like a drink offering,” but at times it has fallen flat on my modern ears. I’ve never made a drink offering, so you know, there’s a bit of a cultural disconnect. The quip “pour one out” certainly doesn’t do it justice.
But as I pondered Thor’s time in Columbia and how God used him here, that phrase kept coming to my mind. As he preached a heartfelt sermon his last Sunday here and ministered to others until his last hours in town, I kept thinking about it. Poured out like a drink offering.
It’s as if a towel was dipped in God’s grace, drenched and dripping, and was squeezed out in a thousand different ways all across our city. He spoke God’s life and grace into people everywhere he went the years he lived here, and as a result people are different. Our church is different.
It’s a beautiful life, being poured out for God’s glory.
I think, though, that the best thing about a drink offering is that it keeps pouring. There are faces I see every week who have been blessed, challenged, and encouraged by God’s grace through a friend named Thor. And every week, I see them pouring into others. I see the same smile, the same grace, the same good news.
Because grace begets grace, and good news begets good news. That’s the beauty of discipleship, that the Holy Spirit is turning us all, by some great miracle, into little Christs that on our best days strike a resemblance to Him and on our worst get to display his unending mercy.