Our ladie's group at church is reading a fantastic book called The Unexpected Adventure, co-authored by Lee Strobel and Mark Mittleberg. When I read the synopsis of the book and saw who authored it, I got excited, and, I have to tell you, these two men have definitely delivered for me.
The premise of the book is fairly simple. Evangelism should happen everyday, and we should not be intimidated by it. We might even mess it up at times, but that's okay. God is bigger than our mistakes and can even use them for His work.
A week and a half ago, when I was only a week into the 42 days of the reading plan, I made my weekly stop at our local Hardees where I enjoy a 45 minute coffee break while my kids take a phys ed class. On the way there, I was praying.
complaining to God.
You know those kinds of chats with the Lord? "God, where are you? I am frustrated! I am discontent. We have legitimate needs. We're being good stewards. What in the world are you up to?" I was laying it all out, but, as you can see, I honestly stated to the Lord, "I am discontent." That might be for another upcoming blog post, but we all know that we are not given the choice to be discontent.
Anyway, I walked to the counter at Hardees and immediately found a pile of cash sitting there waiting for the taking.
Of course, I wouldn't be telling you this story if I had taken the cash.
The clerk came to take my order, and I reported the cash to her. Now, I was not being a hero here. I was just doing what I saw as the common sense response, so don't get stuck there. It wasn't mine. I wasn't going to take it.
The clerk was stunned. She just looked at me in silence for about 15 seconds, and then she said, "You know you could have just taken that money?"
Yes, I knew, but the thought didn't occur to me.
That is not the part of the story that I wish to tell, but that is the part of the story that leads to the real story, the part where I learned.
A few minutes later, the gentlemen to whom the cash belonged came to thank me for not taking his money since the clerk had assumed it to be his and returned it to him. We exchanged courteous greetings and went about our business, him to his breakfast, and me to my coffee and Bible. Not too long had passed before this kind man came to me a second time to tell me how grateful he was again. He had done this same thing before and once even lost $100 by leaving it on the counter at Big Lots! Now, it wasn't a lot of money he left this time, but he was glad to have it back, none the less.
A third time, the man came to my table. This time, as we were chatting, he revealed that he was blind in one eye and partially blind in the other. He has had macular degeneration for 10 years. Knowing how hard it was for my mom to give up driving and my dad to lose his driving privileges for a few months while he awaited surgery, I can imagine what this man has experienced over the past 10 years of his life. I'm sure it hasn't been easy.
It was during this third conversation that this man said something that I didn't think a lot of at the time. He said, "Not being able to see makes things really hard for me, but I love the Lord, and I know He loves me, and He just keeps telling me to never give up. So you remember that, young lady (I loved that part). Never give up!" And then he walked away and left the restaurant.
It was a few minutes later that the clerk was cleaning the dining room. She stopped what she was doing and looked at me and said, "I can't believe you didn't take that money. Most people would have," and she shook her head from side to side.
From there stemmed a conversation that lead from one thing to the next. Eventually, she began to talk about her 30 year old son who lives on disability as he suffers from a blood clotting disorder that has destroyed his liver.
Now, here is something you don't know about me. Like many Christians, I am really, really great at asking my fellow believers for ways to pray for them, but I am really, really weak when it comes to offering to the same for the people who truly need it the most, people I don't know, people who may not know Jesus. I had no idea if this woman was a believer or not, and I still can't answer that question. I have seen her almost every week for a year, but I don't really know her. She knows my order before I walk up to the counter and has my coffee cup waiting, and we always exchange polite hellos. That's the extent of our relationship prior to this day.
This time was different. One little gesture that really meant nothing to me, lead to this woman sharing a part of her private life with me, and I knew that was a privilege that only comes from the Lord. I asked her if I could know her son's name and if I could pray for him.
Again, she stopped what she was doing to look right at me. She said yes and gave me his name, and then she said a few things about praying for her son and some other details about his pending liver transplant followed by, "I told my son that he has come through three major medical scares, and he pulled through all of them, and that he should never give up." In the course of this brief exchange, she repeated that phrase, "never give up," twice more.
Yes, God. I got it.
5 times I got it. Maybe even 6.
When she walked away, I physically looked up as if I could see the face of God, which is my way of doing things as crazy as it might make me appear, and I shook my head briefly as I smiled and said quietly, "I hear You, Lord. I hear You."
I haven't, though I still feel like doing so at times.
I am holding tightly to God's promises for me. I am reaching out only to find that God is reaching in.
Evangelism. It's for me.