There I was –
I chose the path called The Hourglass.
So I stayed there and waited for my certain death. At least I had my safety helmet on, so when I finally fell to oblivion, the staff could sweep up all of the pieces into my helmet, wrap it up, slap a sticker on it and send me home on my way.
Friends down below were shouting encouragement. “Just let go with one hand! Everything will be OK!”
Of course, every time I tried that, the tightrope would shake. I’d panic. And then I’d find myself gripping the wire even tighter.
After an eternity, which was probably no more than five or six minutes in realtime, something unexpected happened. I heard a familiar voice from the tower.
“Matt,” the voice said. “I’m coming to you. We’re going to finish this together.”
It was Todd Bussey, my youth minister. He had come with our Troop on this camping trip, and had already taken his turn on the high ropes course. He had strapped on the safety equipment and was already making his way towards me on a nearby obstacle.
It only took a few seconds after he came out to me. He calmed me down. He coached me through the next steps and encouraged me as I let go of the wire and grabbed the other one. The rest was a piece of cake.
I survived the Hourglass. And I owe it all to Todd Bussey.
Todd is wrapping up a ministry at my home church that began back in the 1980s. He’s moving his family to Florida to write a new chapter of ministry with some new church work.
Tough life, huh?
But he’s going to help turn the region upside down. Perhaps he’ll even shock the world. Because that’s what Todd does. It’s what he’s always done.
Todd baptized me. He co-officiated my wedding. He ordained me. And if something unfortunate were to happen in the near future, I hope he’ll bury me, too. We went on our first Philmont trek together. And he coached me through some important merit badges in Scouting, including Communication and Citizenship in the Nation. Of course, he was also a spiritual mentor of mine. We have some pretty great memories from five Summers in the Son together. Oh, and we were the Summer in the Son volleyball champions of 1990, even though we were the clear underdogs. And he even introduced me to A-180/Audio Adrenaline.
His story has been wrapped into my story for the past 30 years.
And I share this story about the high ropes course because it’s a nice little illustration of what he has done for me over and over and over again.
As a ministry coach, a spiritual advisor, a pastor, and a friend, Todd has always been there for me. He was there when my dad had a heart attack. He was there when I needed a listening ear after I left my first professional ministry. And he helped guide me through preparing for my first funeral as a preacher.
Just like when he was there for me 722 feet in the air, I have always been able to count on Todd Bussey to be there for me. And I know there are many other people who feel the same way.
This leaves a large hole in my home church’s leadership. Shoot, it leaves a large hole in the entire Tri-State area. But Evansville’s loss is going to be Jacksonville’s gain.