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On Higher Ground

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By Bill Horner

Most of us have grown up (to some degree) since high school

 

 “I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world” (John 17:15,18).

I was a little wary at first. Old prejudices began to surface. Did I really want to reconnect with some of these high school classmates?  I remember what they were like back then.

But my good friend Barry Chamberlain reminded me, “Most of us have grown up since high school.” He was right. And then I began to remember just what I was like back then—not terribly bad, but certainly no prize.

So I took the plunge.

Earlier this year the buzz started. Would we have a reunion? We had had one at 10, 20, and 30 years.  Now, 40 years out, Mary, who often spearheaded such events, was unavailable to help.  So she asked Barbara to take over. Barbara had never been involved to this degree before, but she graciously agreed. She did a masterful job, skillfully involving several other classmates (including yours truly) in every aspect of the planning. 

I was a transfer student my junior year to Donelson High School. Dad had been promoted, and we’d relocated from Knoxville. And with a class of 220 (many of whom had known each other since grade school), I felt like an outsider. Nevertheless, I was eager to help pull this reunion together. In my high school days I was always either studying or working at the local grocery store. I had school friends, but I was never involved in anything extra-curricular (like sports, band, debate, school annual or newspaper, etc).  Now 40 years later, I wanted to do my part. 

But above all, I wanted truly to be a blessing to my classmates.

It was worth all the effort.

 Reconnecting with old friends and making new ones was most rewarding.  There was no rivalry, no one trying to impress others, no need to be “cool.” These classmates were indeed a blessing to me.

To be sure, not everyone in our class holds the same Christian values and convictions I do.  Some drink more than I am comfortable with. Others are living in denial of the advance of our senior years. Church has no place in the lives of some. Nevertheless they all showed respect as I led us in prayer for God’s blessing both at the planning meetings and at the event itself.

And I was pleased to see the paths down which the Lord has led other classmates.

Some for instances of the above—David and Wayne, like me, have become ministers since leaving high school. We eagerly compared notes while our wives got better acquainted. I look forward to an ongoing relationship with them. Likewise, Glen and wife Karen, both former classmates, are quite active in the faith. Glen is a professor and department head at a Christian college. They live in Knoxville. 

Lydia came in from out west for the reunion. Back in high school, she and I butted heads more than once (in a friendly way) on the central question of Jesus Christ as the only way to salvation.  Despite our differences it was good to see her again. I was secretly pleased, however, to see Glenda talking intently to her as the evening wore on.  Glenda had already told me with obvious joy how Christ had changed her life.  I was thrilled.

Rick and Sally were there. I had crossed paths with them while pastoring my first church. The occasion was a tragic funeral. Somehow the Lord has given them the strength to continue on. 

And I was surprised at how friendly and understanding Benny seemed to be. I never liked him back in high school for reasons that escape me today. I can see now that I had formed a wrong opinion of him based on one or two very minor incidents. Maybe we’ve both grown up.

 “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).