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Billy was a nuisance kid. Always in the way. Under foot you might say. Mike was just starting to date Ann; visiting her at her apartment on 7th avenue in Tallahassee from time to time, an apartment she shared with a friend. Billy was a neighborhood kid. Always around. Always wanting to be seen and heard. Mike was 20 years old; Ann 21. Billy… about 6. “Let’s walk down to the lake.” “Can I go?” Billy would say. “Sure, Billy,” would be the regrettable reply.

Mike and Ann married. Left Billy far behind. Moved to Dallas, then back to Tallahassee, then to Tampa. Some 30 years passed happily, with lots of changes and family and memories. In Tampa, they enjoyed their participation in a good, local church.

Then one day, a man named Bill speaks to the church elders and asks for someone who would spend time with his family studying the Bible. They feel a need for learning more how to become a Christian and live as a one. Well, you probably already know the rest of the story, but let’s continue.

Yes, this is Billy. He is in Tampa with his family of 5 and they are seeking God. We were chosen to lead them and did so in their home in New Tampa. This was easy work; they were eager and receptive, warm, and fun.

And the study was easy. We looked at some of the passages in the New Testament that gave examples of people becoming Christians:

The Great Commission in Mark 16: “Go into all the world and teach the Gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized shall be saved…” We taught Billy and his family about Jesus and what He did for us.

And Acts 2: “The people were cut to the heart and said, ‘Men and brethren, what shall we do?’ Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.’”

And in Acts 8, there is the story of the Ethiopian nobleman who was on a trip, reading Isaiah 53, but was not understanding. A Christian, Philip, taught him about Jesus. As they traveled, the man said, “Look, here is water. What prevents me from being baptized?” They stopped the chariot, went down into the water and the man was baptized. Philip left and the man went on his way rejoicing.

Then there was Saul, soon to become Paul. His conversion is recorded in Acts 9, 22, and 26. It happens in Acts 9, then the story gets told in chapters 22 and 26. Let’s look at Acts 22. Saul is on the road to Damascus to persecute Christians when the Lord appears to him. He is taken to Damascus where Ananias comes to him with further instruction. Ananias said, “Why do you wait. Get up, be baptized, and wash away your sins.” We know, of course, that Saul did this and went on to be a great preacher and writer for the Lord.

So, when the study time was concluded, Billy and his family were ready. They professed Jesus Christ and wanted to be baptized. We did this in their pool that very night. And they were so happy! And we were so happy!

How did this little boy, who we knew in Tallahassee, show up in Tampa some 30 years later, looking for Jesus, and come to us for instruction? The possibilities are too remote. Unless there is divine intervention, providence. We know the Lord works in mysterious ways. And this is a good example of that.

“Ask and it shall be given to you. Seek and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. And everyone who seeks, finds. And to the one who knocks, the door will be opened to him.”

Matthew 7.7-8

Praise God!