The other day, I sat paused in my study when I read a passage of scripture that took my mind back in time. I Samuel 18:1 says, “…the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.” It was the fall of 1971 when I met my Jonathan. I was a few years removed from a father who utterly abandoned my life, and I was timid, confused, and suspicious of everyone. Enter Steve Johnson. He seemed to have everything going for him. He was an excellent athlete, a superior student, and above all, he had the attention of every girl. He made the all-star team. If there was a bubble gum card I wanted, he always seemed to get it. Any girl that ever caught my eye, he won her. I mean, what girl wanted the guy who still appeared he had the coat hanger left in his shirt when they could have the guy with the wavy hair like Elvis. Everything he touched seemed to turn to gold, and he made success seem easy. Simply put, he was everything I wanted to be.
I wonder if he still remembers in the fifth grade when I got busted for cheating off of him when I could not understand fractions? On rare occasions, I would “luck up” and beat him at something. He never seemed to understand why I would be SO excited when I did. As we played whiffle ball, while he played with ease, every at bat for me was the bottom of the ninth in the seventh game of the World Series. Why, you might ask? I never anticipated winning at anything with him; I simply wanted to keep up. Stay close. Keep him within arms reach. What he nor I never knew during those years growing up was the fact God was using him to be a standard in my life.
Have you ever had a Jonathan in life? Someone God crosses the path of your life with, and you are never the same again. They become more than blood-brothers, and more than good friends. A part of them becomes a part of you. A Jonathan is provisional. What is so sad, life has so many twists and turns, the Jonathan’s are not around near as long as we would like in our life. Don’t you know there were days David would have loved one more talk with Jonathan. What would he have said about Bathsheba? Would he have spared Uriah’s life? Could he have influenced a stronger parental guidance in the life of Absalom? Would Mephibosheth have never been dropped and crippled? What a difference a Jonathan can make.
During the fifteen years I struggled as an evangelist, there always seemed to be something missing. I could never put my finger on it until after becoming your pastor over two years ago. I had no Jonathan! I was aimlessly wandering in life with little to no standard of where I was going. A Jonathan is preparation. Jonathan was full of integrity and eager for fair play. What Jonathan did was prepare David for a higher standard found later in Nathan. Isn’t it interesting how in life, one standard prepares us for another standard? What Steve did for me is prepare me for the higher standard I would later find in Jesus. Was the influence of Jonathan what God saw when He looked at David’s heart?
A Jonathan is protection. As David lay in the field unsure as to his next movement, Jonathan’s arrow in flight gave him discernment. How often we have been preserved from a fatal error in life by a Jonathan. His arrows are sharpened with love and aimed with hope. A true Jonathan is someone who not only knows how to shoot an arrow, but someone who will take a javelin for you. I wonder if Saul saw in his son what he wished he had for his own life? A Jonathan may have protected Saul from his greatest enemy…himself.
Whose life is it that has made the greatest impact on your life? What is it you remember most about them today? At Jonathan’s death, David required that all the children of Judah be taught the song of the bow. Why? To serve as a lasting legacy that “the bow of Jonathan turned not back” at his death. While David received all the glory, Jonathan was the one who raised his sails for God to blow him where He would. Thank you Father for giving my life a Jonathan.
Your most proud pastor,
Alan Stewart: Dr. Alan Stewart has served as Senior Pastor of Rechoboth Baptist since December 1999. He attended The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Moody Bible Institute, Covington Theological Seminary, and Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary.
Prior to pastoring the Tennessee church, Alan was an evangelist for 15 years. He has preached revivals/pastor’s conferences in Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland. He also preached crusades/conferences in India, Hungary, and conducted a crusade in South Africa in August of 2009. Pastor Alan is married to Jeanne, and they are blessed with two children – Sierra and Seth.