One Sunday as Pastor Nathan Thiry concluded his sermon, he challenged us to share the gospel with someone in the coming week. This, of course, is the right and Biblical thing to do. But not so easy for some of us (maybe a lot of us). That evening as my husband and I prayed together, I prayed very feebly along these lines: “Lord, you know I don’t even know very many non-Christians and am not sure who I would try to share my faith with or how I might do it. I’m not sure I even want to, but in the unlikely event that You might want me to share, I hope You will provide the opportunity and the words. I guess. But I’m not sure I even want to or that You would want me to. But here I am.” It was the most pathetic, faithless prayer ever.
A few days later I sat on a park bench working on memorizing Scripture verses. I had 3x5 cards in my hands with verses written on them. While I was sitting there enjoying the beauty of a warm fall day, a lady came up and started a conversation with me. She started by talking to me about the flowers in the garden. At this point she rubbed her knees commenting on how much they hurt and asked if she could sit down on the bench next to me.
After she sat down, she looked with curiosity at the 3x5 cards in my hands and asked what I was doing; I told her I was working on memorizing the Bible verses written on the cards. And I casually asked her if she had ever read the Bible. She replied that she had read it a couple of times but found it confusing. She then added that she had read several other religious books and picked out the things that she liked and tried to pattern her life on these teachings. I asked her if that was adequate for her.
At this point she said it was very interesting that I was asking her these questions. She told me she was a counselor and had just had a counseling session the day before with one of her clients. This man told her he was in despair and had no hope. He felt like his life was in a dark pit. I asked her what she told him, and she said she thanked him for his honesty. (She had no answer for his despair.)
"He, in His infinite grace, gave me an opportunity to see how much He loves sinners"
The conversation then turned toward Jesus. She was okay with Jesus, being willing to add him to her religious collection. But it was apparent she lacked the peace that comes with a personal relationship with Jesus. By this time the conversation was winding down. As she got up and prepared to be on her way I was able to tell her that Jesus is not just another prophet or great teacher, He is the only way to God and quoted John 14:6 “Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but through me.’” She thanked me for the conversation and walked away. This whole conversation lasted less than ten minutes.
No, I didn’t take her all the way down the Romans road or go through the Four Spiritual Laws. I didn’t get her on her knees praying the sinner’s prayer. But I did turn her attention to Jesus who is the only way to God. And I was able to give her a reason for the hope that is within me. Isn’t that what a witness does?
"I was able to give her a reason for the hope that is within me. Isn’t that what a witness does?"
After she left I looked up toward the heavens and said to God: “You are hilarious!” And I imagined Him grinning and replying, “Well, you did ask.” Yes, in my most feeble and pathetic prayer I had asked Him to give me an opportunity to share my faith, sort of. And He, in His infinite grace, gave me an opportunity to see how much He loves sinners – me, the wimpy disciple, and her, the hopeless woman. And, I must admit, this conversation was basically effortless on my part. He brought this lady to me, opened the conversation and gave me the words to say. All I did was sit on a bench in the sunshine.
So, what do I take away from this? That God’s strength really is made perfect in my weakness. That God really does love sinners. And that God has a great sense of humor!