I’m constantly made aware of the blessing of community. God has surrounded me with some pretty incredible people over the years, men and women who have helped to shape the course of my life in dramatic ways.
One of those people is my best friend, Lane. Lane and I go way back, all the way to Junior High. I moved into Lane’s neighborhood when I was in the 8th grade (Lane was in the 7th grade) and we quickly struck up a friendship. I think I laugh more around Lane than around any other friend. We’ve shared so many ridiculous inside jokes over the years that even to this day, one simple word can set us off on an hour-long reminiscing tour. (Just ask our wives.) I suppose that’s the blessing of friends who’ve known you since you had braces.
Lane was a part of some of the most spiritually formative times in my life. He was with me when I went on my very first mission trip in the summer of 1993 to Rochester, Minnesota. We were shaped by the same Bible teachers and youth retreats and youth ministers. After I graduated from high school, Lane and I spent two weeks together serving the poor and teaching about Jesus in Honduras. A few years later, we encouraged preachers together in Haiti and shared one of the most powerful worship experiences of our lives. Lane stood right by my side when Sunny and I exchanged wedding vows. He’s prayed with me and for me. In all this, Lane has been a constant encouragement to me.
Lane also stood with me during the darkest time of my life after my Mother died. When it came time to leave the church building and drive to the graveyard to bury my Mom, I wanted Lane in the car with me. When it came time to leave the graveyard and go home, I needed him again. There wasn’t much to say on that ride back to our empty house, but Lane was there with me on that day. And I’ll never forget it.
One of the blessings of our friendship has also been our shared calling. For about as long as I’ve known him, Lane has wanted to be involved in full-time ministry. I think a lot of it has to do with the example Lane’s father set for him; Joe Widick has modeled both public and private service to his family and to others for years. And Lane has always wanted to be just like his Dad.
Lane is one of the most talented people I know. I tell him this often, but God has gifted him to do so much in ministry. Whether it’s teaching, preaching, leading worship, ministering to teens, encouraging young families, or honoring the elderly, Lane can simply do it all. It’s a joy when you see someone using their gifts and talents in God-honoring ways.
Today is Lane’s birthday and this is my gift to you, my friend. Your life is a source of joy for so many, especially those who know you well. May God continue to use you in mighty and powerful ways. You have no idea how much of a blessing you are to me. Thank you for your friendship. It has made all the difference in my life.