Home Again

Last week we vacationed in the Great Smoky Mountains with my parents, my two sisters, and their children.  The Rixies/Barnes/Plushes/Huffmans are an interesting mix of personalities, each with definite likes and dislikes.

My sweet mother always rents a place for the fourteen of us and then cooks herself silly (her own idea of a va-ca.  Go figure.)  The condos/house can be located in the mountains, at the beach,  or sometimes in an area with a historical bent.  Wherever we find ourselves, it is a time of being thrown together with extended family and lots and lots of personal free time.  (Personally, if I score a stack of paperbacks and a quiet place to read, I’m a happy camper.)  There are no established requirements on our vacation, other than to show up at the dinner table for Grandma’s meals.

In general, vacations are a great break from reality.    You get to:

  • Physically distance yourself from distractions of daily life
  • Strengthen family bonds, sometimes sorely tested in the day-to-day
  • Refresh and refill your tank with new experiences you otherwise might not have had

One thing Europeans have gotten right over the Americans is the duration of what they term a “holiday”–usually at minimum a two-week stay.  We Americans short-shrift ourselves to squeezing out one week at a time, with a day or two of that allotted for travel.  Hardly do you get unpacked in your room, before it’s time to gather it all up and go back from whence you came.

Regardless of how long they are, vacations are blessings from God.  Even with the extra preparations they require.  Even with the dreaded piles awaiting when you return.   On vacation, we can enjoy the beauty of God’s creation.  We can reflect on His goodness and His provision.  We can just be, if we wish.

Someday every believer in Jesus will embark on a getaway of a lifetime, to a wondrous place.  There will be no time crunch, no lowering of bank accounts, no dirty laundry, no emails out the wazoo.  Just zillions upon zillions of years in eternity with our Loving Savior–and that long to mix it up with our kindred tooling alongside us in heaven.  We will be enthralled with the most glorious of scenery, have the most magical air to breathe, fulfill the most extraordinary purpose ever–that of praising our Lord Jesus forever and forever, on into eternity.

All of that, without ever repacking a suitcase again.  Vacation = Permanent Home.

Hmmmm. . . I say, SIGN ME UP!  Are you ready to go?

Lookin’ up,

Sislyn

I Got Your Back

What if there was something each of us who call ourselves believers could do to reach the world that did not involve:

. . . taking an evangelism class. . .

. . . memorizing a formula. . . .

. . . teaming up with a buddy to knock on people’s doors. . .

. . . passing out flyers, cards, information packets from the church. . .

. . . spending 15 minutes chit-chatting until you get to the real “meat” of the matter. . .

. . . .having to quote all those verses in order. . .

. . . screwing up the courage to say something meaningful . . .

. . . reaching the point where you ask “the question”. . . .

. . . getting scared spitless. . .?

Would you do it?

I’ve clunked through the process above and prayed God would use my feeble efforts, which I’m He sure He did because He’s God.  He doesn’t waste any service given to further the gospel.

Nowadays when an opportunity falls in my lap to proclaim the gospel aloud, I am always ecstatic to do so.  But as I’ve gotten older, I find I do less of this kind of targeted sharing.   God now presents more opportunities to share Him in ways that are more spur-of-the-moment, more under-the-radar than the old methods.   You could call it stealth evangelism.

Jesus is our best example.  When He encountered people where they were, He asked questions and was genuinely interested in them.  He didn’t always try to “close the deal” by getting people to “pray the prayer.”  Sinners found Him approachable and likeable–they weren’t scared to be around him, fearful of His condemnation or distrustful of His pat answers.

This is the way the stealth thing could translate in our modern society:  You notice someone who’s having a hard day, wherever you are.  You shoot up a silent prayer for that person.  You ask God to bless him/her and that Jesus be glorified through it.  That’s it.

And if you are a brave enough soul and the Lord gives you a chance, engage the person in light conversation about their specific worries.   Give them your undivided attention.  Take a few moments to hear them out and let them know you are praying for them.

You don’t have to attach anything preachy or religious to the encounter–just let them know you’re praying. Most likely, people will be extremely grateful for the gesture.  You become the connecting bridge between them and God, and in turn give them a small taste of Jesus’ care for them.

When it comes to evangelism, we can be our old ordinary selves and it turn out to be good enough.  Instead of “asking”  people for something, we can give them something–our undivided attention–and they come away refreshed.  It’s the equivalent to giving “a cup of cold water” in Jesus’ name.

I want to be like Jesus.  I want to be friends with those who need Him, I want them to feel comfortable around me.  Who knows–in the midst of a prayed-for, caring relationship with that person, God may draw them to His bosom.   If He brings them into His kingdom because of the small part I played, then ALL PRAISE BE TO HIM!

So, go on and do something small, do something ordinary–for Jesus.  Go stealth and see what happens.  Do it because you have springs of living water to give away.

Send in the results of your own stealth encounters and I may do a future post on them.  May the Lord abundantly bless your efforts in Jesus’ name!

Lookin’ up,

Sislyn