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Saturday, June 7, 2014

IT Used to be Fearful...Now It's Fun!


Jesus’ heart has always been “To seek and save the lost.” (Luke 19:10) He longs for us to have His heart. I used to justify why I shouldn't or couldn't intentionally share Jesus’ love. My top 4 good excuses: 
      Excuse # 1 Only ministers and designated missionaries assigned to foreign countries share their faith. I had forgotten about the caring insurance salesman in a small Wisconsin farming community who shared Jesus’ love with my husband                                                             and me.
Excuse # 2 I’m on the quiet side.
Excuse # 3 I don’t have the “gift” of evangelism.
Excuse # 4 My plate was already full caring for my five children and my husband.

Then unexpectedly my excuses began to unravel. My friend asked me to pray for Kari, her pregnant future daughter-in-law, and a high school senior. Committing to pray, compassion grew in my heart for her.  
 Six months later, I met Kari at a picnic. Prayer had prepared our hearts to want to build a friendship regardless of our age gap.  
A few nights later, God’s familiar nudge awakened me from a deep sleep. “I’m so tired.” I mumbled.  Did I have to get up? Of course not, but I've learned over the years that when I obey God’s early morning invitations, we enjoy sweet intimacy.
 I stumbled to my living room rocker recliner and closed my eyes to pray. I pictured Kari and me sitting in a booth at my favorite Italian restaurant, talking about God.
 I opened my eyes. Hmm … could God possibly want me to share my faith journey with Kari? Immediately, fear gripping thoughts consumed me. I hardly know her! I don’t want to turn her off!
The accuser seconded my fear. You’ll make a fool of yourself.
       I decided to forget the idea, but thoughts of Kari kept returning, keeping me awake.
“OK God, if you want me to meet with Kari, I will, but I need Your help.
I’m afraid!”
Once I relinquished my will, God’s presence welled up within me. The battle ended. I crawled back into bed full of anticipation.
The following morning I phoned Kari and threw out a fleece. “Hey, do you like Italian food?”
“It’s my favorite. My mother is Italian.” My confidence soared. Wow! God is in this, I thought.
Within a few days I met Kari at The Olive Garden. The waiter seated us at the same table I pictured during my prayer time. Just like playing follow the leader, God was leading, I was following. It was fun!
When we finished our meal, I began to simply share my spiritual journey. Explaining my heartfelt hunger for God as a teenager, I recognized sadness filling Kari’s deep brown eyes.
“God knows you, too, and deeply cares for you Kari,” I said, tenderly.
A tear trickled down her cheek. “I've recently been thinking a lot about God. I want to know Him better. This is what I need.” Kari’s receptivity caught me off guard. Could Kari coming to Christ possibly be this easy… so quickly… and in a restaurant?
 I didn't know the next step! I wished I had memorized salvation Scriptures to share with her.
A tract I had tucked in my purse came to mind. “Here Kari, if you read this, I think it will help you.” She smiled, and politely accepted it. I whisked off.
The next day Kari called to tell me, matter-of-factly, she had read the tract and prayed the prayer printed on the back to receive Jesus as her Savior. “Is there anything else I need to do?” Her voice sounded light and alive.
 After doing a few mental jumping jacks, I calmly replied, “Well, you can begin by reading the gospel of John, the fourth book of the New Testament.” We set a date to meet again.
For days I marveled at how much fun it was sharing my faith and I began prayerfully reaching out to others.
At the grocery store, by initiating friendly conversations with the same cashier, I grew to know her needs and interests. We enjoyed bike rides together, attended baseball games together, and invited our kids to one another’s birthday parties. I prayed for her and with her. Several years later, she called from Canada, telling me she received Christ as her Savior!
I aimed at getting to know my elderly neighbor, a widower. I cooked him an occasional dinner, invited him to join our family for special occasions, and eventually shared the Good News with him. Three days before he died, he prayed to receive Christ.
Meanwhile, the ongoing demands of motherhood threatened to stop me from loving others to Jesus. I began to pray about everything. “Lord, I give my time, talents and resources to you. Order my steps. Help me to do nothing more and nothing less than what you call me to do. He helped me reorder my priorities. I let go of some tasks and postponed others.
When I detect I’m growing indifferent or apathetic toward people, I cry out to God, asking Him to enlarge and soften my heart again. Giving Him access to my heart creates a channel for His unyielding love to flow in me. Sharing Jesus’ love then becomes a privilege, not another thing I have to do. When I see the lost through Jesus’ eyes, reaching out happens more naturally.

 I’m convinced it’s possible for anyone to do this! We simply need to be ourselves, and prayerfully touch others God points us to. With consistent, loving efforts, God transforms hearts in His time and in His strength. It really is fun!

2 comments:

  1. A very good article (word) ... we all need to have our heart enlarged and our heart softened through the years. I do share my faith with others... with great delight. Yet, I was touched very deeply with your sharing. Thank you.

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  2. Dear Pam ... you have Beautiful! Beautiful Feet!
    Thank you for your inspiration!!

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