A few months ago we were at the park and my little one was playing with another little girl her age. I began talking to her mother, a sweet young mom in her mid twenties. As we were chatting, I had that feeling, you know that spirit feeling where you are inclined to do something that isn't necessarily in your comfort zone.
I went for it and invited her to church. I had an invite card in my purse and gave her some info. It was totally casual and she said she would love to visit sometime.
Good job me! One for the Jesus team! Woohoo!
Fast forward to last week.
My husband and I went on a little jaunt to
New York City. My husband had a few meetings
to go to and so I had the whole day to be a New Yorker for the day.
When my husband travels to
Manhattan I do my best to accompany him. On
the days that he works I have my routine.
I sleep in some, wake up and get in some much needed Jesus time. I dress in my best city fashion and head to the Starbucks for a grande coffee.
I do a little shopping alone (without a stroller!! AH-mazing!) Then, I head to Bryant Park, because it’s my favorite place in the city. I order a soup and sandwich and I find a little corner in the park to read and write and eat my lunch. I later head over to the Library and take in the splendor of it, because it is the most beautiful place in the city.
So that was my plan for this day. I got my coffee, did my shopping and even got theater tickets! I headed to the park…and there were no quiet little corners because there were people all over the place. A stage had been set up and there was a stomp performance and hundreds standing in the middle of Bryant Park.
I managed to grab a table and despite the mob and the noise I figured it wouldn't last much longer and I should be able to get some writing done.
As soon as I sat down, a young man, about 25, came up to me and asked if anyone was sitting with me and if I mind if he joined me. He said he had come out here to meet a friend and eat lunch, but with all the people he couldn’t find a seat anywhere. I was at first shocked that he even asked (New Yorkers aren’t always as friendly), but I said yes…not exactly sure why, nonetheless, he was a very nice man. We talked some as he ate his lunch and I munched on my sandwich.
He asked if I worked nearby (score one, because my #1 goal is to not look like a tourist) and then he told me his family was from
Texas (explains the
friendliness) though he grew up in the city.
As we were chatting, I felt the Spirit thing again. I began to do the back and forth with God…Lord what am I going to say? How do I approach this? Blah blah blah…
I didn’t do it.
I totally. Chickened. Out.
Fall on my face. Disobeyed God. Here I am Lord, send me! No, just kidding, because I am ultimately a big weenie!
Here’s my excuse…so I can feel a little better: I had a whole segue worked out, but then his friend came and they were about to head out. I kindly offered his friend my seat so they wouldn’t have to look for another and since I was done with my lunch, I thanked him for his hospitality and made my way to the library.
And ya’ll, as soon as I walked away I was totally disappointed and just pitiful.
What was I so afraid of? I had no idea who this guy was and will probably never see him again in my life, so why was it so hard for me to say, “So do you go to church around here,” or “do you know of any good churches in the area (my planned segue, btw).”
But I missed my mark. I had the opportunity and I missed it. I bailed. I got scared.
I wimped out. Pitiful.
As I walked away I asked for forgiveness. I had missed my mark, but I prayed that God would use someone else.
And then, I prayed He would give me another chance.
The truth is, God doesn’t need me to witness to anyone, but He desires me to be bold and not afraid so that my faith will be built up. In fact, my asking him if he went to church or starting some kind of conversation probably wouldn’t have converted him and maybe it would have planted a seed or something but, He doesn’t need me to do that.
God’s majesty and magnanimity can be revealed to anyone He so chooses through anyway He so chooses by the power of the Holy Spirit. He uses us, not for His sake or for the worlds sake, but for ours.
You see, in my first encounter with the young mother, I was much more comfortable. I had encountered many moms like me in that park before and talking to them and inviting them to church was easier, because I had done it before.
The second encounter in the park was so outside of my comfort zone!
First of all, my plan was to be alone!
Secondly, I was speaking to a young, single man and New Yorker/wannabe, hotshot exec in a power tie!
But God didn’t want to use me to merely pat me on the back and send me on my way.
God desires to use us as His witnesses for 5 reasons.
1) He wants us to become better equipped and work with the power given to us by the Holy Spirit.
This is the Great Commission, is it not? “And you shall reviever power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you shall be my witness…" Acts 1:8. When you became a believer and accepted Jesus as the King of Kings and Lord of your life, you became empowered with the power of the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit is who gives us boldness, who strengthens us, who comforts us and who gifts us with spiritual gifts that help us to advance and proclaim the gospel.
2) He wants us to be sensitive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
You remember that Spirit thing I was talking about. That…feeling. I have been a believer most of my life and I am very in tune with the Spirit thing. I don’t know how some would describe that nudge or “quickening,” but I would describe it as nausea and almost like that feeling when you are about to ride a ridiculously scary and huge roller coaster and you really aren’t sure if you are gonna make it through the 33 seconds of thrills and chills and loops and centripetal force! But, that’s probably just me! The truth is, the spirit is always working and always moving and the more in tune and sensitive we are to it, the more He will use us. There are always opportunities of sharing the gospel, we just don’t see or hear with spirit eyes and ears all the time, but we should want to!
3) He wants to gently pull us away from our comfortable places.
Ugh! This is so hard for me. Seriously, I would much rather be behind this screen talking to you about how great God is than standing in front of you and sharing the good news. On a screen I can delete and edit and think about my words. Face to face…not so much. I was comfortable in my park, with my people. In fact, I was even proud of the fact that I could go into a park and invite any mom like me to church or to whatever church event was coming up! Done! But His desire is not for me to be comfortable and carefree, He desires to stretch me and make me more than just a witness to people like myself. God didn’t send David to fight shepherds, he sent Him to fight a giant and He didn’t send Paul to the Jewish people, He sent them to the gentiles. God’s in the business of taking people away from where they are comfortable and to places where they are empowered.
4) Hekeeps us vulnerable so we can fully rely on Him and give all Glory to Him.
In the end, I can’t do any of this…the writing or the witnessing without His wisdom and guidance and especially, without the Holy Spirit. He will continue to stretch me and place me in different places and situations so I can continually depend on Him and stay in tune with Him. And if he has to take me to
York City to make me a fall on my face and be vulnerable
again, well…I won’t complain too much!
5) He desires us to be bold in action, word and deed.
He wants me to be bold. Bold on this little corner of the internet, bold in my community and bold in the outer most parts of the world! He wants me to have a greater faith that will allow me to take risks beyond my comfortable places. He wants me to be courageous and confident in who HE is and who I am in Him; and my prayer is that I will “gaine[ed] confidence and boldly speak God’s message without fear” Phillipians 1:14.
My prayer is that next time I’ll be ready, but more importantly, I pray I’ll just speak for Him and trust the Holy Spirit instead of my own thoughts. So the next time you are a coward, rely on Him and be Confident, casting out all fear in the power of the Holy Spirit!
You are His Beloved,
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