There are times when our hearts are Weeping in the Passing Lane, having lost cherished relationships, fruitful careers and ministries – when we suffer the loss of how life used to be. But in Christ, loss and suffering are never wasted but are often a painful avenue to another level of faith. (I think this is only believable when you’re exiting the fiery furnace!)
As a State Parole Officer, I loved the ongoing opportunities to share the Gospel with felons, inmates, families in the communities and other officers. When everything in my life was practically perfect, the Potter saw fit to squash the lump of clay and painfully remold the design. While life may be stripped of venues, relationships, and resources, God still owns us and “gives us the desires of our heart” – in other words, He installs desires within us.
The desire to share the Gospel, the burden to be a useful vessel in His Kingdom, still captures my heart. While fervently praying for God to “send me”, “open doors”, and avail a ‘call’, the Lord showed me opportunities missed, even in one day, on my way downtown to the WTC Occulus…
Almost every train in NYC leads to the ‘Occulus’ – a humungous architectural design to commemorate the World Trade Center, housing upscale stores, restaurants, and waterfront sites. Although a New Yorker, I had never been there and now, meeting a friend, I must have seemed lost to the concierge there.
“Can I help you? You seem lost…” Well, I wasn’t lost but her friendly overture engaged us as I waited for my friend. Jolene* shared about being a concierge, how she came from Africa, and later, when my friend saw us, the three of us enjoyed a friendly chat. Before heading for lunch I invited Jolene to visit our church but I knew in my heart, that’s not the same as sharing the Gospel….
After a lovely lunch and stroll by the waterfront, I headed back to the subway. While adding money to my Metrocard, an elderly tourist couple approached me, “Could you please help us?” Of course! There’s such pleasure in helping the elderly and tourists! After friendly overtures, I said, “There’s no need to figure out this machine. Here, take my Metrocard. It will take you to your destination…” I gave them some travel tips and said good bye to this grateful couple. But as they walked away, hand in hand, I was so happy to show kindness but knew in my heart, that’s not the same as sharing the Gospel….
I proceeded to the A train and found as I boarded the only seat left – next to a woman with two Chihuahua puppies. “I got the best seat!” I said as I sat. This immediately engaged the woman and she happily shared the story of her pet life and puppies. The same age range as me, Vivian* shared some life struggles as well. I surmised that the many tattoos on her arms were of various cultural witchcraft symbols especially when I asked, “What are the puppies’ names?” “Oh,” she replied, “this one is Voodoo…” We were both going all the way north Manhattan but my stop was before hers. “Thank you for sharing your stories, I wish you the best with your pups!” It was so nice talking to Vivian, but I knew in my heart, that’s not the same as sharing the Gospel….
Maybe there’s something of value in ‘relationship Gospel’, sharing God’s truth after building relationships or friendships but I don’t see that much in the Bible. But this, however, exhorts my heart: “Make the most of every opportunity because the days are evil.”
I truly believe that God moves His Body around, sovereignly ordains meetings, ‘coincidences’, and prepares hearts in unseen ways. One word can make a mark in a soul that the Lord is calling.
The Lord is stirring my heart toward the venue of the world, however small the piece before me! I am praying for a greater boldness with ‘strangers’ – knowing that even a word that we share may be an answer to someone’s prayers. To launch this boldness, I pray, Lord, for a deeper burden and love for the souls before me.
Kindness is good, but I pray for the fruit bearing kindness of sharing the Gospel truth.