When Waiting Won’t Work

September 13, 2014

by Maria Fontaine

The other day a complete stranger contacted me seeking my opinion on a hormonal specialist. A mutual friend who knew that I had visited this specialist had given this woman my phone number. I welcomed her questions, and gave her the specialist’s email address and phone number, offering to make an appointment for her if she would like.

As our conversation seemed to be winding down, in the back of my mind a “need to witness” reminder started to go off. I was focused on what we were talking about and didn’t see an easy way to insert some form of witness into the conversation that would sound natural. “After all,” I reasoned with myself, “it is a business conversation, and do I really need to add that little word about the Lord? It probably wouldn’t have much effect anyway.”

All this was going on in the background of my thoughts: God’s voice reminding me and prodding me, and the Enemy’s voice and my own reasoning countering what I knew I should do. Since I couldn’t think of something to bring up graciously and naturally, my inclination was to let it go. After all, I could just sign off on the conversation with a “God bless you.”

The Lord, knowing that I had made my decision but definitely wanting to be brought up in the conversation, emboldened the woman I was talking to and out of the blue she asked, “Are you a Christian?”

Yay! Now we were tuned in to God’s business, but convictingly not to my credit.

I quickly answered, “Yes, I am. However, for me being a Christian is much more a personal relationship with Jesus than a religion.”

The woman responded enthusiastically, “Oh, yes. My husband and I are Christians, too, and we believe the same thing.”

The Lord must have been smiling as our formerly brief business conversation grew into a longer communication that encouraged and inspired us both. We found that we had a lot in common in our spiritual lives. When she heard that we worshipped at home and occasionally had others join us, she told me that she would very much like to participate. She and her husband had not wanted to attend a church and had not found any like-minded Christians to fellowship with in the several years they had lived in the area.

Here was a Christian couple lonely for fellowship and who obviously wanted to grow more in the Lord. Through a completely unrelated phone call, God had miraculously put us in touch with each other. He did His part to make it happen, but I hadn’t gotten the point. Thankfully, He motivated the woman I was speaking with to bring up the God subject.

I was so thankful to the Lord that He hadn’t let my wrong decision keep us from making that spiritual contact that seemed so important to this woman. How very sad it would have been if she hadn’t asked about my faith. We would have been like two sisters, oblivious to our relationship to each other, who had missed the opportunity of a lifetime to connect and to talk about our wonderful Father.

Then I thought about how even more terrible it would have been if I’d been conversing with someone who was not a believer but who was hungering to know God and didn’t know how to reach Him. What a missed opportunity it would have been if I had held back from saying anything because I couldn’t think how to fit a witness easily and naturally into our interaction and didn’t want to risk feeling awkward if it wasn’t welcomed.

After this experience, here’s what I resolved: I determined that when the Lord gives me an opportunity to have a conversation with a stranger for one reason or another, I will do my best to make it known that there is a spiritual dimension to my life which is connected to my faith in Jesus, even if it has to be interjected into the conversation a bit awkwardly.

A “God bless you” as you’re saying goodbye may finally show that you believe in God, but it doesn’t give any opportunity for that brief mention to expand into more of a conversation or witness. In retrospect, in my conversation with this woman I can see ways that I could have brought in a witness. Since we were talking about health issues and how we all seem to have them at some time or another, I could have mentioned how, being a Christian, I was sure that in the next life we’ll be free from all these troubles. I could have commented that with all my health issues, “At least it keeps me praying a lot.” If I couldn’t have thought of anything else, I could have told her that I pray for people and that I would keep her in my prayers.

There are many little ways to bring in a witness that wouldn’t be offensive to people, but would open the door and give them a signal that I’m welcoming them to enter into a conversation about spiritual topics. There is almost always a way to include an acknowledgment of faith or trust in the Lord. Even if it seems awkward to me, at least they know where I stand and the door for further dialogue is open.

It’s not fair for me to put the responsibility of initiating a conversation about God on others, who could easily be non-believers. As one of the Lord’s representatives, I have the responsibility of providing people who cross my path with an opportunity that they may desperately need but don’t know is available. I want to make sure from now on that I have my personal priorities straight: that no matter what the subject of our discussion, I will do my best to interject the Lord and His power and love and mercy into the conversation somehow. I want to be sensitive to the nudges of the Holy Spirit in all my encounters with others, trusting that if God has opened the door for me to speak to someone, it’s important that I find a way to incorporate Him into our interaction.

Here’s another thing I believe the Lord wants me to keep in mind: Even when someone doesn’t initiate spiritual topics in their conversation, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re not inwardly hungry for the truth and wanting a connection with God. It can be very difficult for people to talk about spiritual issues. Even if people know you’re a Christian, the unsaved are not the ones who are responsible to initiate that conversation. We are the ones who Jesus has commissioned to bring the truth to them. Like Jesus, we have to be the ones who seek out the lost instead of expecting them to seek for us.

Jesus has given us so much and what He asks in return is so small: to share the wonder and the joy and the care and the blessings we have with others. It’s the part that we can do. By His grace and with a little work on our end, we can make our conversations count. We can make God proud of us as we partner with Him.

“Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32 KJV).