My good friends Frank and Lisa were manning a stall with various gospel books on display. They were also giving out tracts to those passing by. One man stopped, looked at the table, and exclaimed, “Oh, Christian stuff!? I’m an atheist!” My friends just smiled and struck up a conversation, without confronting him on that basis. They spoke about art (the man’s sister was an artist) and hiking, life, and the economy, and just generally tried to be encouraging and positive.
When the life of a follower of Jesus is lived as Jesus intended it to be, it becomes a thing of beauty. Being a Christian and having a relationship with God should be something that permeates our daily experiences, is integrated into our decisions, and brings color to our perceptions of ourselves, others, and this life.
My small elementary school had the most amazing gardener we all called “Uncle Silas.” He could make one of those “picture-book gardens” with tomatoes, beans, cabbage, and lettuce bursting out everywhere. The flowerbeds in front of the school were always an amazing range of colors, and he knew exactly which plants and flowers worked best for the different times of the year. He had years of experience, and he knew all the tricks of the trade.
It was my birthday and I was returning a phone call from one of my relatives, but to my surprise, I didn’t recognize the voice that answered. The woman on the other end sounded groggy and weak, as though she was sick or had just woken up, or for some reason seemed to barely have the energy to respond. “No, you must have the wrong number. There’s no one here by that name.”
A few months ago, I started to teach “English through the Bible” classes to a small group of teenagers. It’s not always easy, and it demands time for preparation, but it’s always worth it. For example, when we were studying the very first Christmas, there always seemed to be some kind of obstacle: the students would be late, they would have forgotten their workbooks, or sometimes they’d simply skip a session without any reason.
I was standing in the checkout line at one of our local stores and noticed the lady ahead of me was wearing a brightly colored T-shirt with a Bible verse on it. Then when she thanked the cashier, she said, “Dear, I hope you know Jesus loves you!”
Today, while visiting a small town, I learned yet again that when God says “Jump,” I should ask, “How high?” He always knows best.
I walked past a shipping depot and almost bumped into a man struggling to load a large tire into his 4x4 truck. I chuckled and said, “Looks like you’re getting tired!” (Yes, I have a propensity for joking with puns, forgive me.) He laughed back, and I continued walking.
As My Father sent Me, so send I you. I send you out into a world of hurt and loss, pain and suffering, heartbreak and loneliness, need and yearning, so you can give this lost and lonely world what I have given you. Freely give of My love, compassion, and understanding to those who need it so desperately.
I was amazed when I saw the colorful, intricate constructions on a YouTube video. Tiny houses, barely bigger than a doghouse, with doors, round little windows, and slanted roofs, so the rainwater would flow off. And all of them on wheels, so they could be moved. They actually looked cozy.
It had been a rough few months in the spring of 1972. I desperately wanted a baby, a little one to hold in my arms, to call my own. Twice I had miscarried, and I held these disappointments up before God, shaking them in His face and saying, See what You did when I trusted You to answer my prayer? I just couldn’t move on.