God Provides a Neon Sign with a Gentle Nudge

I might not have noticed if I usually carried a purse.  I quit about fifteen years ago, when I went back to school.  My purse now generally resides in the trunk of my car.  I take my wallet out when I need it.

Last Sunday, I needed it.  I normally don’t drive the van, but we were traveling and that’s what we were driving.  I keep my van keys in my purse.  You know.  For extras.  As I dug for the keys, a blue Gideon testament popped up.  I knew it was there but, like I said, I don’t normally carry my purse.

I was on my way to see my former teaching partner.  We taught together in the Catholic school that I left nine years ago when we moved to Indiana.  I taught Language Arts there.  One of the things that she taught was religion, which was why, when she called me earlier this summer, I was shocked to hear her say that she had given up on God.  I really didn’t know what to say after that, and I was about to tell her that I’d pray for her when she said,”People tell me all the time that they’ll pray for me, and I tell them to go right ahead.  I don’t do that any more.”

I said nothing.

She and I sort of decided to get together when the hubby and I went to Ohio to paint my dad’s garage, but I really hesitated about calling her.  I had spent the last 24 hours trying to process the pain of the people around me.  What do you tell a dear friend whose shame is so deep she can’t share it?   Or a former student, who was abused by a teacher and has had enough heartache, when he shares that his dad is dying?  I gave a lot of hugs, but my heart was heavy.  I wondered whether I should see this friend at all.  She was willing though, on short notice, and I was heading to the park to meet her when the testament just popped up.  Sort of a neon sign in God’s way of gentle nudges, don’t you think?

It’s not that I am a reluctant witness.  At least I don’t think I am.  I am not, however, comfortable with going door-to-door or striking up conversations with people in the grocery line.  When the Gideon ladies share about the testaments they have given out in the course of their daily lives, I am usually silent.  This is not something of which I am particularly proud.  When I started college, I wanted to be a Wycliffe Bible Translator (hence the B.A. in Linguistics). A missionary.   While my heart is still moved toward missions, Wycliffe does not appear to have been the path God chose for me.  Still, we are to share the Good News…

Here though, apparently, God was telling me I needed to witness and, like I said, I had been pondering what I should say.  Fortunately there was a detour on the way to the park and, since my sense of direction leaves something to be desired, I got a little more time to ponder, time which ended with my saying,”OK,  I’ll take the testament, but I need You to give me the words.”

My friend came right over to me when I got out of the van.

“Hey,” I said.  “You know what you told me about giving up on God?  Can we talk about that?”

“Well,” she said, ” we can’t talk about just that.”

Good enough.  I grabbed the testament.

We were in a park by the Maumee River.  It always seems to relax people to be in God’s creation.  And my friend talked.  A lot.  Eventually, we reached a point where I could say something about her statement, and what popped out of my mouth was, quite literally, a Godsend.

“Do you remember,” I said, “when we worked together and talked about spiritual things?’

She nodded.  Of course she did.

“Well,” I said, “we never talked about what your faith was based on, and I’ve been wondering about that.  Do you mind telling me?”

She didn’t.  She said she was convinced that her parents had joined the Catholic church merely so that they could be married in it.  Her faith was based, she said, on people she knew and on books she had read.  I listened, and I wondered why it had taken me twelve years to ask.

When she was done, I asked her if I could tell her what my faith was based on.  She agreed to hear my story, which I won’t go into in detail with here except to say that it involved a lot of trying to be good enough on my own and, since I couldn’t, deciding to be bad, until someone challenged me to take God at His Word and really believe that God so loved meme, Becky–that He sent His Son into the world so that I might not perish but have eternal life.  I told her how good it felt to actually believe that my salvation didn’t depend on me because, if it did, I was certainly going down.  I told her that I trusted that  He who began a good work in me would perfect it until the day Jesus comes again.  And she listened. She even took the Testament from me.  When I showed her the helps, she said,  Oh, my Bible has that.” I responded that this one would fit into her purse in case, you know, she ever needed it.

When she took it,  I praised God.

We ended our visit with promises to stay in touch which have, over the years, dwindled to occasional e-mails, Christmas cards, and our summer visit.  I gave her a hug, and we parted.

On the way home, I berated myself for not having shared Ephesians 2:8-9, but I have to think that, since I prayed about it, my friend heard what she needed to hear.

And I started thinking.  It wasn’t until the end of last year, my third at this job, that I found out one of the sweetest teachers with whom I work  “really isn’t a churchy person.”

She’s so nice, I just assumed, you know?  I never got more info.  Maybe I should.

I don’t really know where I fall in the couse of things when people need to hear God’s Word. I don’t need to know. But I think I’ll tuck a Gideon testament in my school bag.  You know.  Just in case.


4 Responses to “God Provides a Neon Sign with a Gentle Nudge”

  1. 1 Sally August 11, 2008 at 6:41 pm

    What a nice tool of God’s you turned out to be!

  2. 2 Becky August 11, 2008 at 7:31 pm

    Hopefully I’ll hear more quickly from now on.

  3. 3 Tena September 3, 2008 at 11:45 am

    Wow, Becky! What an awesome, inspiring story! You did just what the apostles did – shared the Gospel and you were so bold! I’ve been praying more earnestly lately, about being more bold with the Gospel. I know God was pleased with you. 🙂 Didn’t that just give you more confidence to witness again?!

  4. 4 Becky September 3, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    I don’t know if it gave me more confidence, but it made me pray that I would recognize opportunities to witness without being hit over the head, so to speak. I suppose that’s confidence…

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