God brought Tod into my life in a time when I was discouraged over a past mentor relationship, somewhat grieving the loss of that particular part of my life. Single and lonely, I had also been in and out of several full-time jobs and was currently working a 6 month contract shuffling papers for American Airlines. In spite of all this, over the past few years I had seen significant growth in my understanding of who I was in Christ and his hand constantly guiding me. I had also put a lot of trust in this particular mentor’s approach and when that suddenly stopped, not of my own doing, I was fairly rocked and confused in how to ‘work out my salvation’. I did not know how, but I knew what I needed was not to be dependent on a mentor’s approach, but instead to learn to handle my own load with the necessity of prayer, being in the Word and in community.
After recently joining the Village Church Dallas, I desperately looked for community of a multi-generational sort. The new church I just joined had a different outlook for discipling their members in the Lord than I was familiar with and I found it a little challenging to make new friends. I joined a prayer gathering where my main hope was to simply make a connection. The first two people I met, one of them being Terry, were members of the Bush home group, and Terry was gracious to invite me to his group and gave me the address and time for that Sunday’s meeting. On the day of the first group, I drove up by myself to the Bush house not knowing what to expect. Not seeing any cars outside and wondering if I was in the wrong place, I stepped out of the car and walked up to the doorstep with a little skepticism but pressing on. After knocking several times, Tod opened the door greeting me warmly and telling me that the group was cancelled for the week and that they had already had an Easter breakfast that morning. After a short conversation, he invited me back the next week.
It was then that began a 5+ year relationship where Tod modeled to me what a committed Christian, husband, and father could look like in a way that was different than my own upbringing. In regards to the group, Tod was a very good facilitator, listener, and always willing to let a conversation go where it needs to but capable of gently guiding it back to the topic at hand. His method of leadership was different than I had seen, more engaging with others and asking good questions. As the group leader, he did not always provide ‘an answer’ though I am certain he had an opinion and was most likely correct in his interpretation of the passage being discussed. Instead, he provided what insight from the Word he could to help point to the deeper biblical truths but leaving us to work out some of the lesser details of these doctrines on our own time and in our own way.
Over time, Tod helped me learn more about living in the world but not being of the world while not neglecting his two first priorities, his God and his family. He helped model having a strong opinion and a deeper knowledge of Scripture and also being open to debate another’s viewpoint to get to the heart of an issue. Wrestling with issues comes in phases, and Tod was always gracious and never pushed a conversation too far. It was during my early months in the Bush home group that I was reminded of the simplicity of the gospel as I started to read the word as a daily practice, from front to back instead of picking out a portion for my day. I wanted to understand God because He is God and I wanted to know Him better, not because of what I could get out of it. Tod was very instrumental, although it was not directly a one-on-one mentorship, it was the one that I needed to be able to handle my own load and work out my salvation with fear and trembling.
Eventually, I met my future wife and re-entered the full-time work force in a new career path with a new outlook on how I should approach work which has served me well. Over the last few years, my wife and I have had the blessing of bringing two children into the world all with the Bush family’s steady, light support.
Through all of these learnings, I know that God uses all things for His good and to bring us closer to Him. In a group study a few months ago, Tod taught how amazing it was that we are only a speck in eternity but God has called us and adopted us into His mold as a son and daughter and to lift up Jesus as the sacrifice for our sin. And now, God has allowed him to model once more, by physically calling him home. I know I am not the only one who has been impacted by Tod’s life but I know that even though I cannot verbally thank him for his mentorship at this time I can trust that Tod is singing in Heaven and praising his Savior. And this is my tribute to him and his short time in my life. I am encouraged as I read in Galatians, ‘May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, what counts is a new creation.’ I look forward to singing with Tod and the angels. Peace to Tod and all those who mourn his loss.