Let’s do Lunch

I was on fire. God had changed my life and set me free. True of anyone who has experienced something good, I wanted to share it. There was a particular couple who had obviously been searching for something deeper in their lives during the several years we had known them. They were able to verbalize their disappointment with life and the emptiness they felt within. I knew I had Something that would fill their void, and I picked her to share it with. I had a plan as to how I’d go about sharing the Good News.  I just knew I could win her to Jesus and I was so excited about it.

I asked her to lunch. She accepted. I started praying about it right away. I prayed that God would give me words. I prayed that He would direct the conversation. I prayed that He would open her heart. I prayed. I prayed. I prayed. I have never attended a lunch date that I have prayed over more.

The day arrived. We met at a small but popular sandwich shop on Main Street. It was crowded and noisy. We got our food and found a small table, small enough that we had no choice but to sit close. I was nervous. I didn’t want to be a “Jesus Freak”, but I knew I had something that could change her life. I wanted to give it to her. I prayed. My palms were sweaty. I prayed some more reminding God I had no idea how to start this conversation. Within moments, totally out of context of our conversation, my friend said, “You know, I’ve been thinking about maybe going to church.” I prayed silently again, this time a prayer of thanks for opening the doors wide.  The conversation flowed from there.

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By the end of lunch she had agreed to meet for a Bible study at the library the next Wednesday. It was going to be a women’s group. We were going to study the book of John and learn about Jesus.  I went to the library that day. She never came. I went to the library the following three Wednesdays. She never came. I called her. She agreed to another lunch date. But the night before we were to meet, her husband called me to cancel on her behalf. I never heard from her again.

I had failed. I felt horrible. I must have said something wrong. I must have come on too strong. I messed up. I felt like I had disappointed God.  I, I, I.

Several months went by. My daughter was selling cookie dough for a fundraiser at school. She, totally unaware of the inward turmoil I had undergone concerning this couple, wanted me to stop at their house so she could sell them cookie dough. I didn’t want to. But I wanted even less to try to explain my uneasiness to my young daughter. So I took the lesser of the two evils and stopped, knowing that the wife would be at work at that hour.  As expected, her husband was home. He talked at his usual non-stop pace, but avoided the purchase of the cookie dough. “No,” he said. “You’ll have to talk to my wife. Go by her work and she’ll buy something from you.” He explained how to get to her office.  Now I was really uncomfortable. I knew he would check with her to make sure I’d gone by to see her – he was just that type. Now I had two people to whom I didn’t want to explain my sense of failure.  The lesser of two evils suddenly became facing the person who embodied my failure.

With great fear and anxiety I drove to her place of work. The kids excitedly got out and ran in the building. I walked slowly behind. She was on the phone when we arrived and we were invited by the receptionist to have a seat. It seemed obvious to me this lady had no interest in ever seeing my face again and I would have been happy to have obliged her.

I heard her say good-bye and hang up the phone. “Here comes the awkward moment,” I thought. As we walked in her office she jumped from her seat and ran around the desk to greet me. Rather than a handshake, her arms embraced me in a warm hug.  Her face was beaming. “You will never believe what has happened!” she exclaimed then continued. “Remember that conversation we had at the restaurant several months ago?” I stood with my mouth gaping open. I did remember the conversation – all too well. It had ended with me failing.  I had no idea what she was so excited about. She went on to tell me that she had spent a couple of months thinking about what I had said. She had completely changed her life-style since then. She no longer worked three jobs. She went hunting with her husband now. She also took time to go visit her nieces and nephews. Her life was richer and had meaning. She couldn’t thank me enough for what I’d said to encourage her.

That was several years ago. To this day I have no idea what I said to change her life. In fact, I have come to the conclusion that I didn’t say anything at all to change her life. I can’t change lives. The Holy Spirit had been invited – and He gives people the opportunity to be changed. I don’t know where this woman is at now in her walk, but it will be interesting to see one day.  The experience gave me many very important lessons. Sometimes people don’t need a Bible study – they might only be ready for a friend.  The working of the Holy Spirit probably won’t look the way I expect. I don’t need to feel wonderful or successful for God to have been at work. And most important – it’s not about me and what I can do. It’s about me connecting with God and letting Him do.

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1 Comment

  1. Dean’s always saying that we shouldn’t play Holy Spirit. Your article was a very good example of this. Thanks for sharing your “failure”. 😉

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