As I was about to run a quick errand and then go to the track to walk, I grabbed a neon yellow shirt – one that is really NOT in my color palette and therefore I only use for exercising – and threw it on thinking I wouldn’t be in the store long and I didn’t want to get a shirt I liked sweaty when I exercised.
At the store a woman struck up a conversation with me. Finding out she hadn’t lived here long, I began to think how I might reach out to her. After listening to her drop several curse words in the first part of our conversation, and then having her share a few disapproving anecdotes of Southern “Christian” behavior that had offended her northern sensibilities, I realized God might have more for me to share. She moved on to speaking of a death in the family, wounds to her heart, and the issuses that had prompted her move south. Compassion welled in me and I began praying and thinking: How should I meet her very real needs, both physical and spiritual? Should I just invite her to church? Should I offer to pray about some of the things she was sharing? Would it progress to me sharing the gospel with her?
As lonely people will, she talked continuously, until at last she proclaimed that I sure was sweet but that she had to run meet someone. For all she knew I was just a nice Southern lady. Although I had been a compassionate listener, nowhere in the conversation had I brought the focus on God! Should I tell her to look me up on Facebook? Give her my phone number right quick? Maybe that would give me a chance to stay in touch and say more and let her know that Jesus was why I was sweet to her.
But I didn’t do that.
As I walked away I felt disappointed in myself. Why hadn’t I jumped in with something God would’ve been proud of?! I’m not a pushy person by nature, but maybe I should have been more pushy. No. I don’t believe in whacking people with the Gospel just to say I shared it. But what did my Heavenly Father think?
I asked God if He was disappointed with me? No answer. But my first thought was of the Believing God Bible study I was in at the time. So I decided while walking to the register that I was going to simply pray and believe God to use our chance meeting in her life. Whether she were to find me on Facebook by some weird mutual friend thing or for us to bump into each other again or for this to be all I would ever know of her until Heaven, I believed God that He had a purpose in our meeting and would work it out for His glory.
I drove home and got out of the car still berating myself for disappointing God. And then I had a GodStop! As I was getting the groceries out, I reached up to close the hatch and caught a glimpse of the word ”Christian” on my neon yellow t-shirt! I looked down and realized that neon yellow shirt was a Christian school shirt from the last year I had taught high school! I NEVER wear this shirt out in public other than to the school softball games! But today I did! She DID know I was a Christian! In fact, she probably read my shirt mid-conversation – right before she quit cursing I’m guessing. And maybe her surprise at my kindness (just hoping here) is that I acted lovingly toward her and she didn’t expect Christians to act that way. I don’t know. But God comforted me and reminded me that He works all things together for His purposes. And you bet I’ll let you know if I have another GodStop with her where we bump into each other or I get a Facebook friend request!
“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.'” Acts 17:24-28