Samuel.

This past summer I met a boy named Samuel.

The first thing that he said to me is that I could call him anything, as long as I didn’t call him Sammie. Naturally, he’s been Sammie to me ever since. Throughout the summer he began to show me his heart and I am captivated by it’s character.

Recently, Sam accepted the Lord’s gift of salvation. It was a big deal. The culmination of months of prayer, timid questions, nights of tears, late and long conversations, hearts of hurt, and moments of doubt. Sam is a brilliant man, in multiple senses of the word, and because of this, my favorite question for him is “why?” Hearing his thoughts about the world and his view of it’s orchestration makes my heart jump with anticipation of conversation. He’s quickly become one of my best friends and I am constantly thanking the Lord for the huge blessing that is his friendship.

It’s through his companionship that the Lord’s character has been tangibly revealed in some of the most powerful ways, and watching him grow from an infant into the man that God created him to be is a bigger privilege than any other. On December 7th he took the leap and got dunked. He said yes to Jesus and was baptized in front of our church family. It was a beautiful moment, charged with tears of joy, loving affection, and welcome-to-the-family pats on the back.

His mom was able to be there for it, and I swear to you that that was the most powerful moment of all. What an amazingly beautiful woman. I snuck her up to the front and she was the first to embrace him and wrap the towel around him when he stepped out of the tub. The way that Sam’s eyes brightened could have lit the entire room. I can say in earnest that I have never met anyone who loves his family more than Samuel. His eyes light up at the mention of them, and his heart pounds in his chest when he talks about them… He may hate me for revealing this, but it’s one of my favorite things about him – his ability to love.

It’s in moments like those that I am the most thankful. God is a jealous and loving God, a masculine hero and a tender lover, and he is so incredibly faithful to put people in my life who demonstrate these qualities. One of those being Sam.

It’s not because he is perfect that he has changed my heart, he has changed me because he is different. The road to follow Jesus has never been an easy one, in fact, it’s paved with heartache – and though I recognize that Samuel is still navigating, I’m excited to continue to grow alongside him.

Samuel is my opposite in so many ways – besides the glaring difference in our genders, he is quiet when I am animated, and contemplative where I articulate quickly and loudly. He is mild when I am extreme, and he is calm in the moments when I’m struggling to keep my cool.

He’s no perfect man (no one is), and he still is growing and maturing (who isn’t?) – but knowing him has been an adventure that I have been blessed to be a part of.

Seeing the mark he’s left on my  own heart in the course of a couple months, I wanted to highlight him this month in order to show you why his friendship has changed my heart… so I asked him a few questions.

Because Sam is contemplative in nature my favorite question for him is “why?” He probably gets frustrated because I ask him so much- but there’s something to be said about his willingness to satisfy my inquiries every time.  Sam has been a challenge for me. Learning to love him has been one of the most simultaneously rewarding and difficult things that I have ever done. He’s challenged me to think differently, and he’s challenged me to love in ways that I didn’t know that I could. It is a strange thing to know someone through the entire process of following Christ – the initial meeting and the process that follows afterward – and it is so difficult to navigate on my part that I often wonder how his world is being shaken.

The Sam that I know today is barely an echo of the boy who I met months ago, and that is a startlingly real representation of the Lord’s faithfulness. He is quiet and contemplative and because of that he would never let anyone know – but he doesn’t have to say the words outright for people to recognize the change in his person. It is a truly beautiful thing.

I asked him what it has looked like for him. From the outside looking in I know it wasn’t a quick process, but my perspective of his heart is based on months and not years, and the transformation of a heart very seldom happens in a matter of hours. In his own words,

“The process of becoming a Christian was… a transition over time. Being surrounded by people who knew and loved the Lord, and hearing their takes on what it meant to be faithful, started the shift in my life.”

And since that shift it has been an amazing thing to watch him grow. I know that the road ahead of him is paved with sleepless nights and hard questions, but in the months that have followed his acceptance of Jesus Christ as Messiah the Lord’s faithfulness to him has been no secret; and it is a huge thing to spend time with him listening to him give credit where it is due – from the initial pursuit of a Music education degree at the beginning of his college career to recognizing the Lord’s role in it, Samuel has been a reminder to me of what it looks like to have the unfaltering faith and hope of a new believer. In fact, when I asked him why he chose Jesus and where he saw Him working in his own life, his response was a striking illustration of his heart:

“After I started attending church regularly and regularly hearing the Word, I had some realizations. I have been having so many amazing opportunities since I arrived on the WSU campus; academically, socially, and spiritually. I came into contact with quite a few people who passionately loved Jesus: this was new for me. I was given countless chances in the School of Music to prove myself as a freshman flute player…and I succeeded. After looking at these two things, I realized that God’s plan was exactly this: what I was doing, who I was meeting…it all was by design…After realizing that God was moving in my life – bringing me to people who knew him and loved him, giving me chances to show who I really am – that was a big reason… why I chose Jesus. The man knows what he’s doing, and I figured I’m gonna let him do it.

God shows himself to me often; in my friends involved in Resonate (and even in some who aren’t), in all of my experiences in the School of Music, and in my family. Watching him reveal who I am supposed to be and who I am supposed to do life with has been extremely rewarding. I know he’s not finished yet, but I couldn’t be more excited to see just where he’s going to take me.”

The mark that Samuel continues to press onto my heart is reminiscent of Hebrews 11:1 which says: “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” This is all so new to Sam. For the eighteen years that he has been on this earth, his pursuit of the Lord is barely a blip on the radar at this point, and yet, he possesses the faith of a child while pursuing the hunger of an adult – and it is inspiring.

It’s frustrating for him to not know everything all the time (he is a C on the DISC scale after all), but I think that his hunger for answers has led to his pursuit of the meat that the Bible has to offer, and it has been a really cool thing to digest with him. He causes me to think about things that I haven’t ever really had to explain, he allows me the insight that  the beginning roots of a faithful life are a baby’s grip on the gospel – and it has been insane.

We’ve had so many conversations about what it looks like to pursue the Lord, so many other conversations about how faithful He is to provide, and even others when we are frustrated – and it is fascinating to hear his perspective. Every week I make him tell me three areas that he sees the Lord working in in his own life, and listening to his praises and frustrations has been a beautiful thing to be a part of. So, in order to further illustrate his character I asked him to share what he thinks that the Lord is doing in his life and where he sees God pursuing him, and this is what he had to say:

“Since I’ve discovered and developed our relationship, the Lord has spent a large amount of time teaching me. While my college life (excuse me, my home life) is filled with faith and friends who I can talk to about Jesus, my life where I’m from is not. I recently came back from a 3-week long semester break… in the time I was in Vancouver I never really caught a break from learning. The Lord was teaching me everyday – how to handle the complications imposed by my divorced parents, how to handle the miscommunication between myself and my sister, how to continue to pursue him even when there were only a few people around me who promoted that pursuit. I will tell you one thing, I was exhausted by the end of it. I have not taken a class as rigorous as the Lord’s… Family has been one of the most complicated things for me this past year. While painful, it provides a great point of conversation between God and me. It’s sort of strange to say it like this, but as my parents relationship unraveled, mine and God’s was built up. So, thinking about everything that happened over my break, I am realizing that the Lord is teaching me right now. And I certainly have a lot to learn.

…I’d say that the Lord pursues me, at this point in my faith, mostly in my interactions with my friends…  I see him… in my interactions with family as well. My family doesn’t really know Jesus, so when I’m home around them I can tell that the Lord is teaching me. He’s teaching me how to be faithful when I’m surrounded by a distinct lack of faith. He’s teaching me how to be patient with members of my family as I have to deal with the aspects surrounding divorced parents. He’s teaching me to make wise decisions and to seek council with friends when I need help with life’s tough questions.”

And tough they are. The questions are never easy, but I am grateful for Samuel in that he wants to ask them. It has been an interesting road for Sam, the past year has presented him with more challenges than the entirety of his life combined – and yet, rather than run into the arms of more detrimental vices, the Lord was faithful to lead him into His arms, and that is something that I don’t think is ever lost on Sam – which means it’s never lost on me either, and because of that I feel his imprint even deeper.

Samuel teaches me the beauty of childlike faith. He teaches me what it looks like to pursue your passions fervently and wholeheartedly. He teaches me what it looks like to be gentle when that is the last thing that you want to do. He teaches me what it looks like to jump in with everything, even the “big toe.” He teaches me what it is like to laugh in moments that seem unlikely. He teaches me that there are still men who hold doors.

In the months that we’ve known each other I’ve introduced him to countless bands, movies, and books; and he has introduced me to a world where boys are still in the pursuit of becoming the men that God created them to be.

It has been such a blessing to pursue a friendship with him and I cannot wait to see what the Lord does with this friendship – we have so much to learn from each other, and I am excited to navigate through that with Samuel.

He has left an imprint.

So I leave you with this, one of his most treasured life mottos:

“Don’t discredit your own abilities when it comes to the things you’re passionate about.”

samuel

Samuel Yates – Baptism from Resonate Church on Vimeo.

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