I love the idea that church being more than sitting in a service on Sunday and I love that we are being challenged to be the hands and feet of Jesus in our community so that people can hear and see the message of Jesus’ love. But sometimes the thought of trying to help people in need can...
Why is it so difficult to have real conversation about our personal relationship with Jesus, especially with non-believers? When given the opportunity, we are quick to say that God has incredible power to transform lives, but we belittle the example of transformed life that we know the most...
I love the idea that church being more than sitting in a service on Sunday and I love that we are being challenged to be the hands and feet of Jesus in our community so that people can hear and see the message of Jesus’ love.
But sometimes the thought of trying to help people in need can be overwhelming. There are so many needs…so many ways to get involved…so many ministries that I could help with. And sometimes I admit that I even wonder how my actions could even mean anything in the big scheme of things.
But here’s what I’ve learned: We don’t have to do ALL THE THINGS! But we DO need to do exactly what God is leading us to through the pull and guidance of the Holy Spirit.
I was in Curtis Bay doing some volunteer work and I thought maybe I would stop at the store to grab some groceries on my way home. As I was coming over the hill into Severna Park I felt a nudge. It was a little whisper that urged me to watch for someone. I wasn’t sure what that meant, but I knew it was from the Holy Spirit, so I decided to just slow down and look around as I ran my errand.
As I was walking into the store, I saw a man sitting on the curb. I smiled at him. He smiled back.
“How are you today?” I asked as I passed him.
“Good,” he said. “Just trying to make some money for bus fare.”
Just then I remembered that earlier I put $10 in my pocket to pay for lunch. Turns out, lunch was taken care of, so I still had $10 in my pocket. I pulled out the money and handed it to him. “Oh, then this is for you!” I said.
As I handed him the money, his eyes widened and he smiled. Just then, someone with a cart came by (this man was returning the carts that people gave him so he could keep the quarters that you insert to get the cart at this particular store). The moment seemed to pass as a gentleman handed this man his cart, so I walked inside to do my shopping.
When I finished my shopping, I headed out to the parking lot. The man I spoke to earlier was there watching the door. He approached me as I left the building and I smiled.
“You didn’t have to do that,” he said. “But thank you. Thank you very much.”
“Well,” I replied, “on the way here today I felt God tell me to help someone, and I think he meant you.”
The man told me his story. He had been living with his mother, but she died a few months back and since the subsidized apartment was hers, he lost his home. He told me how hard he has worked to try to get on a list for housing but he was having a hard time trying to make ends meet. I told gave him information on The Transformation Center (a partner ministry of our church) and asked if I could pray with him. When we finished praying, he had tears in his eyes.
“You blessed me today,” he said.
“And you blessed me,” I replied.
I am convinced that God has a plan for each of us. It’s not necessarily a plan to do all the things…but God does have a plan to use you—at the right moment, at the right time—to help one of his beloved children in a real and meaningful way. We need to prepare ourselves to hear his voice, and respond to the Holy Spirit.
Why is it so difficult to have real conversation about our personal relationship with Jesus, especially with non-believers?
When given the opportunity, we are quick to say that God has incredible power to transform lives, but we belittle the example of transformed life that we know the most about…our own! What wonderful changes we could make if we were better able to allow others, including non-believers, to see our daily walk with Jesus. We would be able to change lives by introducing them to a faith that is real and alive. One Severn Runner, Hillary, was willing to share her story about how she did just that.
“I was working as a therapist in a prison. I was ready to make a career move and had applied and accepted a conditional offer for a new position, but was waiting in a holding pattern for almost two years. It was easy to write it off as the pace of the federal governments hiring system, but in hindsight, I think God was keeping me there for a reason. Over that time other coworkers left only me and my coworker, Emily, on our team. Working in prison you find any reason to get out during the day and we regularly began getting afternoon coffee at Dunkin' Donuts. I was under the assumption that Emily was a Christian, not the “I believe in God” type, but the active Christ following type. I am not really sure why I thought this, but I did. Our conversations over coffee were about relationships, family, and daily life. Our conversations got deeper and turned to issues of faith. I thought I was having deep conversations with a person who shared my beliefs and was coming from the same place of faith. I openly shared my thoughts, questions, and experiences. We talked about our churches and I was surprised how little she seemed to know about hers, but didn't think much of it. After several months, Emily shared with me that she had gotten baptized. I was so happy for her, but it was also the first time I recognized that she hadn't been in the same place of faith as me during our conversations. She told me how our conversations had been a part of her journey. Shortly after, I got a start date for my new job and left Patuxent [Institution]. It is hard to think that God didn't keep me there to have that experience with her – to share my faith freely and without inhibition because I didn't know I was sharing with someone might reject it.”
Wow! What a great misunderstanding that turned out to be. But there were a lot of ways that God was moving in Hillary's life to orchestrate the seemingly coincidental relationship she developed with Emily.
“I think God was working through me to share faith with her and draw her into the accepting community of faith. She got into a dating relationship that quickly became an engagement during that time and my marriage, Wes' and my involvement in YMP (Connect Group at Severn Run), and the other Christ centered couples we knew were able to be examples to her of what a Christ centered relationship can look like. Because she was my friend, I shared with her some messy and vulnerable times Wes and I walked through – and I think that realness was impactful for her. God was working through her and the situation to teach me to be bold in sharing my faith – I never would have spoken so openly if I had known there was a risk that she wouldn't be receptive.
Another thing I think is important is that in sharing with her, I talked about struggles, questions I had, barriers between sharing faith with my family, etc. A lot of times I feel like when sharing my faith I need to have the perfect thing to say or have it all wrapped up in a pretty package with a bow, but real faith is evolving and is sometimes difficult which is just as important to share.”
It’s easy to relate to Hillary's feelings on why we hold back when sharing our faith. We are worried about how we will be received, but the person on the other end really just needs to hear Jesus speak through our life's story. When we think we are “improving” our story by focusing on getting everything just right, we are probably just getting in the way.
“My main takeaway from the experience is how differently would I talk about my faith if I was never worried about rejection. I hope that others would hear that too – how differently, how much more frequently, how much more vulnerable would we be talking about our faith if we acted like everyone we talked to was a believer?” - Hillary Battle
Let us know: How does this encourage you to be more bold about sharing your faith in everyday situations?