I recently received an email from Mrs. Sharon Felty, an elementary music teacher in Oklahoma. I had the privilege of student teaching under Mrs. Felty’s supervision during my senior year of college as a music education major. As we caught up with each other through email, I was mindful of the important role she played in my career. I learned so much from her, and I will forever be grateful for the investment she made in me.
Prior to my student teaching, I had never met or heard of Mrs. Felty, so my placement in her classroom seemed to be a random assignment. However, I quickly discovered that it was no random assignment. I knew God had strategically placed me in her classroom to learn valuable lessons I would not have learned elsewhere.
You see, the Bible says, “The LORD directs the steps of the godly” (Psalm 37:23, NLT). That verse is true all the time, even when we don’t realize it. He sets us in the right place at the right time. And when we pray for God to direct our steps, we need to keep in mind that a big part of His direction involves His strategic placement of the right people in our path.
The book of Acts in the Bible is a good example of this truth. While the book is in large part an account of the ministry of Paul, it mentions many other key people who interacted with him along the way to help him reach his God-ordained potential. He couldn’t have been effective on his own. Other ministers such as Barnabas, John Mark, Silas, Lydia, Timothy, Priscilla, Aquila, and Apollos are described as playing significant roles in his ministry.
The last chapter of Acts tells how Paul lands in Rome after many missionary stops throughout the Mediterranean world. When he arrives in the city, he is greeted by some fellow believers. The writer tells us that “when Paul saw them, he thanked God and took courage” (Acts 28:15, NKJV). I find it interesting that as soon as Paul saw them, he thanked God. You see, Paul valued other people and their importance in his life. He knew that in order to be strong, he needed others, so he cherished their presence in his life.
The writings of Paul recorded in the New Testament further reveal his love and admiration for others. For instance, in Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi, he writes, “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy” (Philippians 1:3-4). He wrote similar messages to other believers. Paul was diligent to thank God for the people in his life and to pray for them.
To the Romans, he wrote, “I long to see you that I may be encouraged by our mutual faith” (Romans 1:11-12). Paul “took courage” from fellow believers, and we can do the same. God has placed others in our lives for important reasons, and one of those reasons is to make us stronger. So, don’t try to go through life on your own; let others help and encourage you.
Today, think about the people who have played an important role in your life like Mrs. Felty did in mine. Realize you wouldn’t be where you are without their help and support. So, thank God for them, pray for them, and take courage from them!