Who is your mentor? Do you have a mentee? Today's guest, Cathy McIntosh from Strengthened by the Word, is thankful for the mentor who God placed in her life at just the right time.
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Do you ever look back at your former self and cringe?
I sure do.
I remember feeling embarrassingly entitled—a memory that makes me shudder.
Long ago, I believed since I was new to the body of Christ with no idea how to embark on a faith walk, that other Christians would feed me spiritually, and make themselves available to show me the way. I thought they’d live for the opportunity to raise me up.
Quite the self-centered attitude, right?
But that’s the way it happens in the movies, isn’t it? When someone decides to follow Jesus, there’s almost always a mentor waiting in the wings, ready to guide on a moment’s notice.
That wasn’t my story. I spent years without a mentor.
My then boyfriend (now husband) led me to the Lord while we were dating and he was my only Christian friend. We didn’t spend the energy to meet others at church or connect for fellowship.
Following Christ came easy for him having come from a long line of spiritual giants. By that, I mean the pray-and-watch-mountains-move sort of giants. I came to know of them as holy superheroes and mused about learning and growing in Christ under their tutelage.
Related: Who Is Your Hero?
One major obstacle to fulfilling that daydream was geography. Most of his family lived an hour or more away. This was long before Internet, making it impractical to rub shoulders and learn from their ways.
Although I longed for a Christian mentor, I didn’t find one. My disappointment lingered and it seemed no one cared to take this fledgling student under her wing. Maybe it was because I never asked, or mustered the courage to reach out. Or perhaps God was waiting to introduce me to the right person.
I waited years for a personal mentor. In the meantime, I sat at the proverbial feet of big-name Bible study teachers like Beth Moore and Kay Arthur, observing their example as much as I could from afar.
And then, out of the blue, God made the introduction I’d ached for.
I saw her from across the room at church, but didn’t meet her there. Instead, I met her sitting in the stands of a Major League Baseball game. As she walked by my seat to use the restroom or visit a vendor, I said “hello,” with a smile of recognition. She responded politely and went on her way, then surprised me on her return trip. She sat in an empty seat next to mine and asked, “Where have we met?”
In that moment, an enduring friendship was born.
As difficult as it was to wait for a mentor I could meet with face-to-face, I’m grateful for the Lord’s generous and timely provision. My mentor is not only a dear friend, she’s a trusted guide who allows me to lean on her maturity and experience as we navigate life together. Every now and again, she’ll even reach out to me for a word of encouragement. It thrills my heart to give it whenever I can.
She came into my life when some important relationships were stretched thin and strained to a breaking point. I was empty and wounded. She literally sat next to me—on those stadium seats and in life— with grace and understanding, wisdom and kindness, mercy and gentleness. As our relationship moved to the point where we shared hurts and vulnerabilities, it seemed I couldn’t shock her with my troubled past or even my turbulent present. She listened carefully, hugged a lot, and prayed diligently. To this day, she still does.
I reflect on our friendship with overwhelming gratitude. I thank the Lord for her, but also for the way He provided her. Once I believed He’d overlooked my desire for a mentor. Looking back, I see that He was working behind the scenes to provide a mentor not just for a season but for a lifetime. God carefully prepared each of our hearts for His divinely orchestrated encounter. And when the moment was right, He delivered a friend—a spiritual mama—at the exact time I needed her most. All the while, He displayed His own unwavering love.
This story brings a few Bible verses to mind:
Take delight in
and he will give you your heart’s desires.
Psalm 37:4, CSB
I believe that God Himself placed the desire for a mentor in my heart. He is the one who created such a longing in me. Even while I waited and delighted myself in Him with the help of some prominent Bible teachers, He made me ready to receive what He had to give. I’m nearly overcome with gratitude.
For my thoughts are
not your thoughts,
and your ways are not my ways.”
This is the Lord’s declaration.
“For as heaven is higher than earth,
so my ways are higher than your ways,
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:8-9, CSB
I wanted a mentor the moment I began to follow Christ, but the Lord had other plans. While I waited, He continued to fuel my desires and simultaneously helped me surrender to His timing and perfect plan. Some of the steadfast lessons I learned during my wait are that God’s ways are perfect and that no one can thwart His plans. That message continues to resonate in my life and help me as I face a variety of trials and struggles. I thank Him every day that He helped me understand such a valuable truth.
I’m not proud of the way I focused on myself all those years ago. But I’m grateful that the Lord walked with me began to mold me into His image. The Lord seems to move slowly, but we must take heart knowing that His timing is always perfect. His blessings are always worth the wait. Once we begin to understand, we can give thanks even while we experience delays.
Cathy McIntosh has always loved words, often overusing them during her younger years. Her daddy lovingly called her “Constantly,” indicating how much she talked. As an author and speaker, Cathy serves God by sharing His joy with women. She enjoys using real, transparent stories paired with practical Biblical truth. Cathy adores Colorado sunsets, snuggling with her new grand babies, and every moment with her husband of 31 years. Connect with her at www.cathymcintosh.com
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