Sunday, September 17, 2006

"What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us." (A.W.Tozer)

He was one of 4 brothers who were typical Surrey boys, comfortable in vegetable fields, farm vehicles and ball parks.

During his high school years, he became a star of sorts due to his aptitude in sports. He was a key player on community baseball and soccer teams as well as his school’s track and field program and volleyball and basketball teams. He was tall, dark, and very handsome.

He was, however, running from God. Everywhere he went there was evidence that the God who created him was reaching out in love – but he hid. In fact, as the story goes, whenever he and his brothers would drive to White Rock, he would duck his head down in the back seat when they passed the little church on the corner because the words on the sign, “Are you ready to meet your Maker?” bothered him.

And then, at age 17, while in grade 12, he attended some evangelistic meetings where the words of the verse, “In my Father's house are many rooms. If it weren't so, I would have told you. I am going to prepare a place for you…” had a life-changing impact on him. The words, “I would have told you” gave him the confidence to know that God could be trusted to tell him all he needed to know. He decided then and there that he would walk with the Lord all the days of his life.

“I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to quit,” he told his basketball team mates.
“Why?” they wanted to know.
“Because I’m a Christian now,” he answered boldly to a group of guys who were not impressed. He was the school’s top male athlete and they needed his athletic and leadership skills desperately. The coach, his homeroom teacher and others tried to convince him to change his mind, but he was firm. “God is asking me, Who is your God – me or sports? And God is my God. He comes first.”

And thus he gave up his place on the team; which was no small sacrifice. Taunting and ridicule replaced the awe and respect someone in his position commanded.

That Friday night, he showed up at Cloverdale Baptist’s Youth evening.
“What are you doing here?” astounded young people were asking him.
“I’m a Christian now, and I believe this is where God wants me to be on Friday nights.”
“But what about basketball?”
“I quit the team. This is where I belong, at youth.”
“You can be a Christian and play basketball, you know. Think of the team as your mission field, you can be a witness there.”
“No. God wants me to be apart of the youth group. I’m obeying Him from now on. This is where he wants me to be.”

Now he really loved basketball. He was good at it. He was the star. And it was hard to walk away, but he believed that God was calling him to get involved in this youth group. And he would trust Him.

But the youth group was not satisfied with the way things were turning out. While they were overjoyed that he was joining them, they were worried about the cost. So they talked to their leaders. Who talked to the elders. Who talked with the pastor. Who called an emergency meeting to hold a vote. Where it was unanimously decided that youth night should be changed from Friday nights to Tuesday nights – and where it has remained for 35 years since.

He went back to playing basketball on Friday nights with his school team, and was honoured as the Best Boy Athlete again in grade 12 like he had been the year before.

That occasion set the tone for how he lived his entire life. “God can be trusted. Give Him everything that you love, and make Him your God above all. He will work out the details. If it’s meant to be, if it’s part of His will for you life, if it’s from Him – He will work out the seemingly impossible details.”

One of the verses that he lived by was Psalm 5:3 –
"Listen to my voice in the morning, O Lord.
Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly."

God had proved to him that He could be trusted. So he trusted Him. Everday.
For the rest of his life.

John “David” Heppell
Oct 7, 1938 - September 3, 2006

"What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us." (A.W.Tozer)

1 comment:

My Thots said...

Thank you for writing about his life. We knew and respected him and his family. He was an example to us all.