I should know better.
Recently, I celebrated my spiritual birthday. During my 59 years as a Christian, I’ve studied the Bible and prayed every day. I’ve worshipped in a community of believers, and I’ve studied all about evangelism. So I should know better.
But I still struggle to share my faith with strangers. Even though I know how to tell someone about the Gospel, I don’t always want to do it. I’m in a hurry to get to my next appointment, write my next book or coach my next client.
My latest failure came in a health foods store. The clerk who checked me out was a nice woman with a beautiful smile. We chatted about the crazy Kansas weather – humidity one week, sleet the next. We talked about the importance of eating healthy and discussed how to best utilize some of the products I bought.
But when it came to this woman’s spiritual health, I bailed. Inside my spirit, in that inner sanctuary where the Holy Spirit lives, I heard the divine whisper, “Ask about her faith journey.”
Just as quickly, I snapped my purse shut, hurried out of the store and drove away.
About a block later, I realized my disobedience as I heard Jesus say, “You’re ashamed of me.”
“No, I’m not. I love you, Lord.”
Silence. I knew I had disappointed the lover of my soul.
Later, I thought of phrases I might have used to broach the faith subject with this woman. “You have a beautiful smile. What makes you so happy?”
Or how about this? “I’ve been coming in here for quite a while and you’re always so nice and helpful. You must be a Christian. Right?”
I always know exactly what to say – hours or even days later. I never have trouble communicating on other subjects with people, even with strangers – so it’s not that my brain freezes over and I don’t know how to begin.
It’s just plain and simple fear and maybe a touch of rebellion.
I seem to be a modern-day Simon Peter who promised total allegiance to Jesus yet the Lord reminded him, “You will deny three times that you know me” (Luke 22:34 NIV).
Sometimes, just like Peter, I deny the only One who has ever loved me completely and unconditionally. My stubborn will wrestles more strongly with God than any desire to serve him or to spread his good news. I pray for divine appointments, then fail when the assignment proves inconvenient.
I’m ashamed. Even writing this post, I’m ashamed of myself for letting my Savior down and not following through with what he asked me to do.
I could drive back to that health foods store, but what good would that do? Would the woman think I’m crazy if I said, “Hi there, I was in your store last week and I made a terrible mistake. I was supposed to ask you about your faith and I didn’t do it. So how about it – you want to come to church with me?”
So far, the Spirit hasn’t given me a second chance, because he knows the right timing. I only hope that the next Christian who comes into that store does a better job than I and that woman has the opportunity to either accept Christ or tell about her faith journey to someone who will listen and obey.
As I confess my failure and my disobedience, I want to learn from my mistake so that the next time the Spirit prompts me to say something, I won’t wrestle with Him.
I’ll open my mouth and let Him pour His love message into that person.
I should know better, because I’ve been reading a book titled “The 10 Second Rule” by Clare de Graaf. The author had the same problem as I. He loved Jesus, but he didn’t always do what he was supposed to do. He couldn’t seem to live all day every day without denying his faith in some way.
But he decided he could live a vital faith life 10 seconds at a time. So he determined that for 10 seconds, he would do everything possible to obey what he felt Jesus wanted him to do. Every 10 seconds.
In obedience, he invited homeless people to a restaurant where he fed them a meal. Another day, he pumped gas for a motorist and paid for it. Each event was the result of a 10-second decision to follow Christ. Now de Graaf is living a more obedient life, because he’s practiced obedience 10 seconds at a time.
I’ve decided that’s a good idea. Now I plan to ask God daily to make me sensitive to his Spirit for the next ten seconds – to help me be an obedient servant, to be aware of the needs of others. Maybe as I practice 10-second obedience, it will stretch into 20 and then 30 seconds. Maybe each day will contain divine appointments where I will be salt and light in this world, where I am never ashamed of my Lord and never deny him. As de Graaf explains, never underestimate the power of practiced obedience.
The next time I enter that health foods store, I’ll look for that woman and if the Spirit prompts me that it’s a good time – hopefully, within 10 seconds – I’ll obey.
2 John 1:6 “And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.”