As a little girl, I wouldn’t have been able to express in words how the way she stooped to speak to the old in the strange sick smell of the nursing home and touched their sticky hands convicted me that I had a debilitating and deadly case of shallow love. But I knew it made something in my core turn, my skin crawl, my cheeks get red with burning shame.
One memory in particular from my childhood has kept returning to the forefront of my mind and triggering conversations between the Lord and me.
I could start the story at a truck stop picnic table somewhere in the middle of Indiana—the table decked with PB&J sandwiches, ziplocks of Mini Wheats, apple slices and other road trip fare. But it really started at our family dining room table at home in Ohio. The old pine table on the creaky wooden floor where we ate oatmeal and watched out the window for squirrels while Mom read the Bible. The story starts with her praying as she closed the book. A mom of three Littles who couldn’t get out much, was honestly asking the Lord for opportunities to share Him and speak of Him.
I remember those prayers because she meant them, and I could feel it. I am thankful that my mom prayed prayers she meant in front of us kids, and prayed them consistently so when I sat munching my PB&J at a rest stop in Indiana and watched God do something crazy, I could remember those requests.
I remember the man jumping down from the cab of his parked semi-truck and making a beeline for our table—probably not a comforting site for a mom alone with her three kiddos. He rushed up and began to pour out his life story.
“I don’t know what to do.”
Mom responded so calmly—as if this stranger was sitting with us in our living room, or around our table. She told the man about Jesus, and she told him what the Bible had to say about his situation. She was no nonsense and straight forward. She seemed to be fearless. She prayed with him and the man walked away, amazed at her words.
My little heart hated the way this man ran up and was suddenly so close. I was unnerved by the way my mom not only listened but spoke boldly back and just took the odd situation in stride. Why wasn’t she questioning the fact that this man we didn’t know ran over here to talk to her? Why wasn’t she scared? Why did she act like this was normal?
It struck me deeply then—and dashed my selfish desire for things to be expected and routine and foreseeable. But the Lord continues to use this memory to challenge me.
Am I actively asking the Lord for opportunities to share His life, even where from my perspective it’s difficult or even excusable not to? Am I expecting Him to step into my life and answer that prayer?
Do I believe He’s alive?
And does His aliveness and His activity trump my life plans and priorities, cause me to pray to see His work, and then not miss a beat when He gives me an opportunity?
Does blunt, honest love and following a blunt, honest God trump comfort?
Because ultimately this isn’t a story about how great my mom is—about how sweet it is that she loved old people and modeled sharing Christ with strangers.
It’s about a faithful, crazy God who sees everyone’s hearts—from the truck driver whose life is in shambles to the young woman with young kids who prays to be useful—and He sees opportunity for glory. He doesn’t see two separate stories but His story. It’s the story of a God who sees us and pulls us into His activity and walks with us and makes us and rejoices in us rather than just using us or losing us.
It’s about a God who makes us uncomfortable because He doesn’t want nice people or creed-reciting, church-going, Bible-believers—He wants us. That is a scary so much more. But it is worth it, because He is worth it all.