The first time I ever heard him preach was at Fish Camp my freshman year of college.
He drove a red Prelude, his hair was blonde from the sun, and he didn’t appear to be much older than we were.
But a big church in town had just hired him to be their pulpit minister and after I heard him speak, I knew why.
A couple of years later I sat next to him in a communication class on persuasion. It was my junior year of college and he was working on his master’s.
He told me I should start coming over to that big church where he preached, so I did.
And brought some friends.
Pretty soon we were all going. You had to get there early to find a seat.
Every time he got up in the pulpit he’d take his watch off and set it up where he could see it. But I didn’t care if he went over time.
Every Sunday night he started his sermon by leading us in singing “Make Me A Servant.”
During those years, I learned how God uses the most broken among us in Rick’s epic series on David. After a Wednesday night lesson on the 23d Psalm, I’ve never looked at a sheep the same. And it touched my feminine heart to hear Rick explain why it was such a huge deal for a woman who had been bleeding for over a decade to venture out of hiding – to risk whatever it took to get to Jesus.
Those were formative years in my life. College and graduate school. And then ‘no man’s land’ – the years after college when you’re not married and friends move away and it seems like you don’t fit anywhere. Especially at church.
But I was there.
Because I knew for the thirty or so minutes he was in the pulpit, I felt at home. Hearing truth. Learning more of what I was supposed to be about.
This past Sunday I was at The Hills West in Fort Worth, and as he preached I was reminded of all the voices in my life who have shaped mine.
I’m so very grateful.
I’ll bet Rick made an ‘A’ in persuasion, too.