When I was cleaning out a room at my folk’s house back in August, I came across an inscribed wedding napkin Terry and Kelleen Little. My best friend Kelleen married the love of her life right after high school. I was one of her bridesmaids. After her wedding, Kelleen and I kept in touch, but shortly after the birth of my first child, we lost contact. Through the years I had often thought about Kelleen and had even tried to search for her a time or two. As I fingered her wedding napkin, my mind drifted back to 1980, back to high school, back to the bayfront, and back to the steps.
Once again we were schoolgirls sitting on the steps by the water discussing our lives—our futures. She was preparing for marriage. I was preparing for college.
“Jeannie, you have to let him go,” Kelleen challenged. The words tore at my heart as I had averted my gaze from her blue eyes to her wavy waist length red hair.
“I can’t! I just can’t!” I argued.
“But you have to. You have to give him to God.”
I realize now that my feelings toward John were only those of a school girl’s crush, but that day on the steps at the bayfront in 1980, I felt as though I were giving up my heart, my life and my future. I had placed my all my hope in a fairytale, happily ever after prince who I thought was going to rescue me from my prison of pain. My fantasy had left me hurt and tormented.
As Kelleen pointed toward the water she spoke words I never forgot: “See that last step. It’s like stepping off that step into the water and trusting that God will catch you. He won’t let you drown. He knows what is best for you. You need to surrender and give John to God.”
Although I had accepted Christ as my Savior when I was eight, surrender had only been a word that appearred in the lyrics of a few hymns we sang at church. But Kelleen’s words made me realize that it meant much more. It meant I had to die—die to my own will. I had to step away from my plans, step out in faith and step off the last step. I had to trust God and let John go.
As I looked down at the napkin in my hand, I thought about what I learned that day at the bay front and all of the times I had trusted God and taken steps of surrender since then. I had always wanted to tell Kelleen how her words had challenged me and how her friendship had impacted my life. But my searches for her had come up empty. As I studied the silver letters on the napkin, I decided to try one more time.
I pulled out my laptop and once again typed her name into the facebook search box. This time her profile came up. I was elated! After more than 30 years, my best friend and I had reconnected. A few instant messages later, we had planned to meet when she came to town to visit family in September.
When Kelleen showed up at my door as planned, she was all smiles and full of joy, just like I had remembered her. We only had a few hours to “hang out” so we wanted to make them count. “Where would you like to go?” she asked.
I didn’t even hesitate, “I was thinking we could go to the steps at the bay front.”
“I was thinking the same thing,” she replied.
We drove to the bay front, parked the car, and began our journey. As we walked along the bayfront we discussed our lives and God’s goodness. Our lives have turned out differently, each having its own sorrows and joys, but we have a similar passion for the Lord and for ministry.
After walking and chatting for a while, Kelleen and I descended the wide cement steps that led to the water and sat down. I sat there staring out at the water. As I thought about the lesson I had learned over 30 years before I looked at Kelleen. Her blue eyes were now enclosed by laugh lines and her once long red tresses were now cut short and styled, but she hadn’t changed a bit. She was still full of joy and wisdom.
“Kelleen, do remember that day on the steps when you told me I needed to surrender John?” I asked.” I never told you this, but up until that day, I didn’t have a concept of surrender. Nobody had explained it to me. ”
Kelleen was shocked. “Jeannie I never knew that. Being raised in the church and all, I always thought you knew what it meant”
As we chatted some more, I was able to share with her how her friendship and faith had impacted my life, and before we left the bay we took a picture of the steps—not just the cement steps—but our next steps. Standing on the bottom step, each of us holding one foot out over the water, we took pictures of our feet as we agreed that God was stepping us into a new season, not just of trust, but of adventure—adventures that would keep us following in His steps.
As I was praying about what to blog about for the New Year, God reminded me of the steps. I believe that 2014, is a time to take some steps—steps of surrender and steps of faith. As you and I step away and let go of what we do know, and step up and step out and embrace God’s unknown, He will step us into a new season full of great adventures He has planned for us.
May you step up, step out and step into all God has for you this coming year!
“The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him;” Psalm 37:23 (NIV).