I have been blessed by an incredible season of God using me in ways I couldn't have imagined. I don't say this with false modesty but, I really do blow it on a daily, sometimes an hourly basis with regard to my thoughts and actions as a Christian. So, I guess that is why I am really amazed that God has even allowed the opportunities He has.
The first one, began when I took my sons to get their haircut. There is a barbershop up the road from our house. A stylist whom I attended church with in another city almost a decade ago works there. She and I have always wanted to "catch up" but the last time I went in, I felt compelled to schedule a lunch time for fellowship. This wasn't the normal oh-I-want-to get-together-and-gab feeling this was a compulsion of necessity. I grabbed my calendar and scheduled a date. We had lunch on Monday. What a blessing! I got to know her better and she told me her story. She became a Christian after she had married. She has prayed for her husband's salvation for over 20 years. He is still unsaved. This is where the story get interesting. I scheduled the lunch date on the 15th. Unknown to me, she received a letter from their son the week-end of the 18th and we had lunch on the 20th. The news in the letter was devastating to both her and her husband and they wept that week-end.
On Monday, we met and I was able to equip her not only to share the Gospel with her husband but able to give her some tools for her workplace. She is a strong Christian and walks through difficulty well. Her gentle, quiet spirit will be winsome to her husband. Her words to me were that she didn't know how to share the Gospel and while she knows scripture, she is the ONLY light in her workplace. Her co-workers could be described as a bitter Catholic who is obsessed with performing rituals to make sure his salvation is in "good standing," a gay man who has frequent fights with his boyfriend, and the owner who commiserates with the gay man when she has a fight with her husband. She attends a questionable church that likes to read excerpts from books by Brian McLaren (one of the emergent church gurus).
My friend knows she has a mission field and she believes that every person that sits in her chair is an opportunity to share the Gospel. She just didn't know HOW. I gave her several examples and we role played several scenarios. I gave her a copy of Way of the Master and Hell's Best Kept Secret. I also encouraged her to attend an Academy out in Los Angeles. What a wonderful time of fellowship it was with this sister! Pray for her ministry opportunities and her personal family situation and the salvation of her husband and son.
Two days later, on Wednesday, I had to go to Sam's Club. I always like to see what they have in the back "clearance" corner. While I was there, I ran into a woman that I vaguely remembered. Our daughters attended the same preschool almost 10 years ago. She and I spied some Adirondack chairs and were curious about the price. Since I had arrived first, she asked if I was interested in them too. When I told her I was, she said that since I was there first she was going to go on shopping. She wasn't going to pursue them. The sales lady came with the price, but I decided against them.
So, I decided head to the check out. Again, there was a compulsion like I had felt when I knew I needed to schedule a lunch date and this time it was accompanied by what I like to call an "audible thought" that said, "Find her!" I thought, "That's ridiculous! This is Sam's Club and it's huge and packed and she probably didn't want them anyway." I pushed my cart further and was then told by the Lord, "You need to find this woman and tell her you don't want the chairs." I said, "Lord, if this is what you want, you will have to find her for me because I have to go and she already said she didn't want them." As I pushed the cart towards the check out what do you know, the next to the last aisle I found her. I went up to her and said, "Excuse me m'am, I just wanted to let you know that I decided against those chairs and just wanted to let you know." As soon as I said that, she remarked how that was kind and then began to tell me that they were trying to sell their house and she thought they would look good in her back yard to try to help sell her house. She then told me about some difficulty that she was experiencing and about job uncertainty with her husband as a major employer in our city just laid off over 300 people a few days before. About then she said, "You look familiar." I told her that I had remembered that our daughters attended pre-school together almost a decade ago. She then, shared a few more things and I then knew why I was there. I felt like I was to share a portion of the difficulty we'd been through recently.
I began to share with her the difficulty of the trials we had been through over the last 3 years and how they intensified over the last 8 months. I shared with her the wonderful things that resulted from these trials and that the trials brought us to the end of ourselves and our own self-reliance. Idols were torn down in our lives. I shared with her our own house woes having survived 22 months of double house payments and other difficulties and brought it back to how beneficial the trial was to my husband in particular.
As I began to tell her the things that changed in my husband as a result of the trial, tears welled up in her eyes. I gave her some resources to help her be encouraged in the Lord and I told her run to the Lord and stay there through this. She leaned forward and grabbed my neck and gave me a hug. All she could say was, "You have no idea how similar our stories are. I needed to hear this today because this morning I was at a particularly low point because we have many decisions to make. I think you were sent by the Lord."
I was stunned, but I believe I was too. I have to tell you, I don't normally go sharing such things with complete strangers or people I only vaguely remember from a decade ago, but I felt compelled. I truly felt that if I didn't find her and tell her about the chairs, that I would have been disobedient on an incomprehensible level. I know the chairs were only the mechanism by which the Lord provided so that I would be able to start a conversation with this lady. Even though my first thought was, "This is stupid," I know that it was orchestrated by God to encourage another sister in Christ.
It has also made me more mindful of obeying little promptings and not being so quick to dismiss them as just a capricious whim on my part. It also has made me to be even more faithful with Bible reading and memorizing the Word because I can not be used if I am empty.
I encourage you to train your spiritual ear to not only hear but obey the promptings that are placed within your heart even if they seem stupid or off the wall. I have had these things happen in the past, but not as often in the last 2-3 years. I believe it is because of the season that the Lord allowed us to walk through and with all the insights that He has given to me as a result of this time of refining, I believe that I can encourage others to run to the Lord. Keep your spiritual ears open and cultivate an obedient willing spirit that can be used be the Lord.