I would love to be the type of person God uses in miraculous ways in the lives of others.
Someone like the woman I heard call in to K-Love last week. She shared how God told her to pull into a parking lot and wait. She obeyed even though doing so caused her to miss the appointment she’d been rushing to. And then she obeyed a prompting to get out of her car and walk up to a stranger who had just pulled in in his truck, and tell him that God wanted him to know he was not alone…and never had been. It turned out the man had been in a crisis of faith and had been pleading with God to reveal himself. The truck driver told this woman that she was an angel sent to him, and, indeed, in that moment she was.
This morning I heard a story about Beth Moore traveling through an airport and being called by God to offer to brush the hair of an old man “humped over in a wheelchair; he was skin and bones, dressed in clothes that obviously fit when he was at least twenty pounds heavier.”
After much consternation she heeded the call. Once her task was complete, she received the blessing of learning that the man was returning to see his wife following open-heart surgery, and he had been worrying about how he would look for “his bride.”
Years ago I came across a woman who made a habit of saying to restaurant servers, “Before we eat our meal tonight we will pray; when we do, is there some way that we can pray for you?”
How faith affirming!
How miraculous these stories are!
“Oh Lord,” I whisper, “I want you to use me like that!”
As quickly as the words gush out I can hear God’s reply. “Really? Are you really ready to step out this boldly?”
My heart does a flip flop as I rationalize, “Well, I would be if it weren’t so risky…er, um, okay, so embarrassing.” And I recognize that perhaps the problem isn’t so much God’s nudging, but my willingness to take the leap of faith. The truth hurts.
Playing it Safe
How many times have I felt prompted to pray with someone — right then and there — and instead offered a meager promise of, “I’ll pray for you” instead?
Just the other day a friend acknowledged his struggle to believe in a higher power, let alone to trust that Jesus actually existed. I let his vulnerable admission float right by like a wisp of smoke, promising myself I’d find a better time to invite a discussion…soon.
“Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”
When God prompts us to speak into the lives of others, he’s not only working on their hearts, he’s working on ours too. If I fully trust the voice asking (God’s), and the reason (to invite others into a life-saving relationship with him), would I really hesitate over something as petty as potential embarrassment? I don’t think so; in fact, I don’t think embarrassment would be a risk if my focus was only on serving another person in a manner pleasing to God.
What Are You Waiting For?
I don’t know about you, but one of the ways I console myself when I wimp out in such situations is by rationalizing that I’m still maturing as a Christian. One day I’ll be ready for those epic “Beth Moore” moments…just not today.
The problem with that mindset is there is no promise of anything other than today, and there is no timetable for becoming qualified to follow Jesus boldly and bravely.
The apostles spent three years walking with him every day, yet they often missed the boat, sometimes literally. They argued about who among them was the greatest while the only answer to the question was being revealed on a nearby mountain (Luke 9). Peter stepped out onto the water quite boldly, but just quickly lost his nerve and found himself in over his head. (Matthew 14:22-33). And Thomas doubted that Jesus was resurrected until he touched his hands and side. (John 20:24-29)
But following his very first encounter with Jesus, Philip grasped that he was the Christ, and boldly invited the scholarly and more theologically mature Nathanael to come and see the Messiah (John 1:45). A mere criminal, justly crucified beside Jesus, became the first person to put the whole salvation story together, acknowledging Jesus as King and asking to be saved:
And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
And [Jesus] said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Luke 23: 42-43
Do You Dare?
The bottom line is that we get to choose whether to play it safe or dare to spread Christ’s love with reckless abandon.
The truck driver could have laughed at the woman and called her a fool.
The old man in the wheelchair could have cursed Beth Moore for insulting his appearance.
And one of those waiters the woman offered to pray for could have derided her as a “Jesus freak.”
And perhaps those will be the outcomes, sometimes. But those are small risks when compared with the opportunity to lavish Christ’s love on someone who needs it desperately.
When we allow God to use us, as he did these women, we allow him to tell a beautiful story of serving one another in faithfulness to him and of the love that binds them all together in perfect unity. (Colossians 3:14)
This week I will pray for God to embolden me to dare greatly (and I invite you to do the same). Who knows…the life we save may be our own!