When I was nineteen years old, I took a job in a factory making kayaks. This job was roughly sixty miles from my childhood home, making it my first experience feeling like I was living someone else’s life. The men and women I worked with came from much different backgrounds than I had. For instance, Jeff had been a minor league hockey player in Canada and was missing several teeth, while Craig was covered in tattoos and lived in his car. I, on the other hand, had grown up in a rural area with a close knit community of Christian families.
My parents took their faith seriously. Dad brought our family to the same non-denominational church every Sunday. I remember waking up early on Saturdays to find Mom in her chair reading the Bible before starting her day. I grew up with the Christian faith at the center of my family's life. So I didn’t feel like I had anything in common with the rough work-crowd I was now spending long days with.
That is until I met Mitch.
Mitch and I got scheduled to work on the same kayak-building team. Our team wiped down giant iron molds with rags soaked in chemicals and measured out scoops of brightly colored plastic powders. We then loaded the kayak molds into an enormous rotisserie oven that would melt the plastic powder and form it into the shape defined in the mold.
This regular routine allowed us to talk and learn about each other. He had grown up as an only child of a single mother. I had three brothers and parents who were happily married. His childhood was spent in urban areas of Bellingham, Washington and Phoenix, Arizona. I had lived in the same house on the same small island my whole life. On the surface, Mitch seemed just as different from me as the rest of my coworkers. But we quickly learned we both shared a passion for learning more from the Bible and growing spiritually.
It was through my friendship with Mitch that God began to change my perspective. God used this new friendship to teach me that the diversity displayed in nature extended not only to humans, but also to those who responded to His call. God hadn’t limited his saving work to only one race, nationality, gender, intellect, upbringing, or even age group. There wasn’t only one formula of life experiences that led to an individual choosing to live their life in fellowship with the Creator. God could truly save anyone. Mitch and I were proof of that.
Though our backgrounds were so different (the political ideologies Mitch and I had been raised in were on opposite ends of the spectrum), the spiritual discussions we had while working helped both of us grow closer to Christ. They also piqued the interest of Chris.
Chris had grown up in a household where the only "spirituality" in his life had been built around alcohol and marijuana. But as he joined in our conversations, his interest grew and eventually he bought a Bible and started bringing it to work. And just like the different colored plastic powders that came out of the oven molded into the shape of a kayak, I saw Chris begin to change. And just as each kayak that came out of the oven had the same shape, function, and purpose, I learned God has always had a much greater plan for humanity than we could ever imagine, giving us shape, function, and purpose.
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