Next to our kitchen table, former procrastinators, hangs a copy of a picture by Joni Eareckson Tada. It’s the profile of a fisherman in rain gear, wide-brimmed hat pushed up in the front. He’s lighting a pipe and looking outward. That picture energizes me. The fisherman is not making the best decision for his health – but he is out there fishing. It reminds me that I do not “do it all right” – but I, too, can be out there fishing. (Matthew 4:19)
As someone says, God uses crooked sticks. Otherwise, He wouldn’t use anyone, especially not me. Considering the men and women who’ve deeply influenced me for the Lord, there’s not a perfect one in the bunch. So, that way, I fit. That’s exciting! In fact, the things that we struggle with can be the very things God uses to draw others to Himself.
We attune our imperfect hearts to the Lord through prayer. We also pray for the soil of someone’s soul – that the seed we plant or the watering will fall on soil that receives it. We pray for specific neighbors and that the Lord will orchestrate our encounters with other people, bringing us prepared hearts.
This is not to say every encounter is to be a “gospel presentation.” We share the love of God by showing interest in somebody, offering help, being friendly. Someone who becomes a believer in Christ, usually goes through a process during which the Lord is drawing her over time. We cannot make anyone a Christian. That’s the work of the Holy Spirit. We’re privileged to be instruments of love along the way.
Interest in the Lord usually grows out of relationship. However, at times, the Spirit prompts interaction with someone we don’t even know. This, too, can be part of that person’s path to Jesus. Bill Fawcett asks permission to speak. He’s asked many taxi drivers, “Do you mind if I talk with you about Christianity?” No one has turned him down. He carries copies of the gospel of John to give away.
Bill is a dear friend and mentor for my husband and me. His wise counsel and dynamic example spur me to step out of my comfort zone. He explains that sharing answers to prayer that we have received helps others realize God is a rewarder of those who have faith in Him and diligently seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6)
He suggests asking, “Do you have a need I can pray for?” Pray for the person right then. Further conversation may follow.
Another encouragement from Bill: “If somebody mentions God, begin a spiritual conversation with them. Why? ‘No one can come to me.. unless the Father draws him.’ (John 6:44) I can share with that person knowing God is already at work in him.”
It’s not our work, but God’s. He loves through us imperfect women who say “yes” to Him and reach out to others.
How will you step out of your comfort zone to befriend a neighbor this week?