My Cousin, and Now My Friend
One day, more than 25 years ago, I received a package at my office addressed to a David Toussaint – obviously not intended for me; but there it was! And I tried to track him down, and through a weird series of events, I dropped the package at a local real estate office, never laying eyes on David, and was pleased to receive a thank-you call the next day. After all, I had never spoken with a Toussaint in the Indy area, and I was curious to see if we were related. Sure enough, Dave’s father, Lowell, and my father, Bruce, were first cousins! What’s the chance?
We got together once for lunch – nothing memorable, and each of us went on with our own lives. Throughout the years, and I mean more than a decade, we would call one another every couple of years, but never got together until something changed in me. David kept reaching out – I was the stubborn one. After all, we didn’t have anything in common. My immediate family, as you may know from other posts, was not particularly religious, but David was a PK (pastor’s kid). He was devoted to the Lord, and I, at that time in my life, was struggling with my faith. He was more deliberate and I was more intent on success. But one day, we met for lunch at Champps, at Keystone at the Crossing, near my office, and something in me wanted to get to know David better. After all, he had been trying to get to know me for 10 years, and I just was not responsive.
There was, however, something very “Toussaint” about him. That probably does not make sense to you, but to me, I could almost tell that he was family. It was apparent that his Dad and my Dad had similar traits; and we started to really get along. In fact, that day, he invited me into a Crown Financial Ministries Bible study. I had never participated in any Bible study before that, but I did it, and loved it! I was hooked on learning more about God. And one thing led to another. Eventually, I became a Crown Small Group Leader myself, and really enjoyed the camaraderie of fellowship in small group studies.
Then David took the next step and invited me into a Thursday lunchtime Bible Study, and the first day I attended, know who I met? Lowell, and Dave’s mother, Alverta. And immediately I felt a connection with Lowell. In so many ways, he reminded me of my own father. And since my Dad has been gone so many years, it was almost like a way to connect with Dad across the years. Lowell is also gone now, but I will never forget him.
And what’s more, David and I have become fast friends, and devoted brothers in Christ. I’ll bet we have eaten lunch together more than 500 times during the last 15 years. He led me to pursue advanced studies, and was there for me when I decided to be baptized by immersion. He has supported my ministry initiatives, and sits on the board of Chaplains at Work, a non-profit organization I founded that assists companies with workplace chaplaincy programs and career transition help for people out of work. And he has provided me more encouragement and love that any person has a right to expect. Above all these things, he is a model of Christian behavior and he brings out the best in me. No judgement; just someone to listen and offer wisdom to me. Sure, sometimes we disagree, but we can each share our innermost thoughts with the other; without any fear of condemnation.
And while we depend on each other to keep us spiritually strong, we can go weeks without seeing each other, although that is not our preference. The theological conversations we have are terrific, and in most cases, we see eye to eye. Sounds great, doesn’t it? I wish everybody could have a David in their lives. And so the verse I have chosen for tonight is short, but so appropriate. In Proverbs 27:17, we are told, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” And this is exactly the blessing I have had through knowing and building a relationship with my cousin.
So, my encouragement tonight is to find someone you trust to hold you accountable as a brother or sister in Christ – someone you will be honest with, to love you well, to encourage you, to correct or admonish you; and who will be there regardless of the circumstances. We all need our immediate families, but that is not enough. We need someone outside our marriages to grow with us, and mature with us from a spiritual perspective. And my prayer tonight is that God will bless you with a David, as he did me. I can’t tell you how much his friendship has meant to me throughout the years. And this is not meant to diminish or “rank” other deep friendships I have cultivated over the years. But I feel a sense of “family” when David and I are together; and even a connection to Dad – and that is so important to me.
And don’t think that friendship is easy. Both Dave and I work at it – constantly. We find time for each other; regardless of how busy we are. And we listen to one another, even when our ears hurt from all the listening we have already done – because that is what friends do, unconditionally. Notwithstanding our hectic schedules, we even shared a short lunch today. And I love the inscription he wrote in the Bible he gave me years ago, “To Scott – I pray you will be blessed as you continue in honoring God’s Word with your life – my cousin, and now my friend.”
May the Lord bless you the same way. Grace and Peace……..