Come - An Opportunity
Come - An Opportunity
It will lead to an opportunity for your testimony. NASU
Have you ever wondered how many opportunities Jesus gives us each day to invite people to come to Him? When Jesus was warning the disciples about upcoming persecution, He said, “It will lead to an opportunity for your testimony.” I suspect that everything that happens to us and every person we meet is an opportunity for our testimony. The real question is how many of those opportunities do we take?
“May I sit here?” a man asked. He was wearing the uniform of a tourist - a collared shirt, belt. Kaki shorts, and white athletic shoes.
I was riding a shuttle from our New Jersey hotel into New York City. “Sure thing,” I said as I moved over. “Where are you from?”
“Ohio,” he said. “Do you know how late this shuttle runs?”
“Pretty late,” I said. “We were thinking about going to a play and they told us they could pick us up at 11:00 PM.”
“Good,” he said. “My son and I are going to a ball game tomorrow night and will need a late pickup. Where are you from?”
I went to laughing. “I never know how to answer that question. I guess I’m from Phoenix.” I’ve noticed that Phoenix is one of those cities where you only have to give a city. Everyone knows where Phoenix is.
“Are you a Cardinals fan?” he asked.
“No,” I said. "We just moved from Jacksonville, Florida so we are Jaguar fans. We also go to all the Gator games. I’m not buying anymore football tickets.”
“Florida isn’t too popular in Ohio,” he said wryly.
“I guess not,” I joked. “When you ran that first touchdown back, I thought we’d lost it.”
“Everyone else did too. It worried me because I knew it couldn’t be this easy.’”
“We’d just moved to Phoenix and I’d planned to unpack boxes while I watched the game. I stayed glued to the set and never unpacked a box." I said. "I think that first touchdown gave us the energy to win.”
“I think you’re right,” he agreed.
“We did go to a Diamond Backs game,” I said. “I really enjoyed it a lot. I find baseball a more relaxing game to watch. You can actually carry on a conversation with your neighbors at a baseball game. You’ve probably figured out I like to talk.”
He laughed out loud and asked another question. I think he liked to talk as well. “What brought you to New York?”
“I brought my nephew here for a concert. He spent the night in the city with friends. I’m headed to pick him up and tour New York with him and his friends. The real reason I’m in New York is that God sent me here.”
He looked wary so I explained. “I’m a traveling missionary, writer, and speaker. I travel several months each year, talking to people about their relationship with God. Who knows, you could be an assignment from God this morning.”
He was still amused at our banter so I continued. “Are you a Christian?”
“No,” he said. “I was baptized Catholic but I don’t practice anything.”
“Do you believe in Christ?” I asked.
“I’m not sure,” he said. “I don’t really know what I believe in. I know I don’t believe in the Catholic Church.”
I knew there was a story there but felt led not to pry. “I’ve found that with people raised Catholic, they either love it and are fully committed or have rejected it completely. For some reason, it is hard for former Catholics to visit other churches.”
“You’re right about that,” he said. “I’ve thought about going to other churches but haven’t been comfortable.”
“I promise there isn’t anything wrong with visiting other churches. God would rather you do that than not go at all.” I said. “I’m Baptist but when I travel, I go anywhere people invite me. I’ve found that all Christian churches have their weaknesses and strengths. You’d probably be surprised at how much the Catholic Church has changed in recent years.”
He sighed. “I’ve just never really known what I believed so I didn’t go to church anywhere.”
I felt the conversation turn serious. I knew the Holy Spirit had just offered an opening. “When people tell me that, I usually sense restlessness in them,” I prompted.
“You’re probably right,” he said. “When you don’t know what you believe in, it’s hard to focus on anything.” I noticed he wasn’t wearing a wedding ring. He’d already mentioned a son so I was guessing there was a divorce in his background. I wondered what else he was feeling restless about.
“I have theory,” I said. “I believe God made us with a longing for Him. Do you remember that children’s toy where you had to put shapes in a ball. The triangle shape would only fit in the triangle hole.” He nodded that he remembered so I continued. “That restlessness we feel is our longing for God. We try to fill it up with many things but God is the only thing that really fits.”
“I hadn’t thought about it like that,” he said thoughtfully.
“What about your son?” I asked. “Does he go to church?”
The man laughed. “He goes when there is a girl involved.”
I went to laughing. “My husband started going to church because it was the only way he could date me on a weeknight. We were in high school. My church had services on Sunday and Wednesday night. Now almost forty years later, Bob loves everything about the church.”
The ride was over. “You’re probably wishing this wasn’t the last seat on the bus,” I teased. “You got stuck by this woman who talked to you about God all the way to New York. At least it will give you something to talk about when you get home.” He laughed and I gave him a card and a quarter.
We had a perfect New York day that involved museums, parks, subways, and good food. Bill and I came home in a great mood, looking forward to leaving the next day for New England. If you read the story from the day before, you already know that our poor camper got broken into.
The police were wonderful. In the course of the investigation, I was able to tell both of them about my ministry. “I hope the thief goes to my website,” I said. “I think he needs some spiritual help.”
“Good point,” the police officer said.
“Are you a Christian?” I asked. He wasn’t. He went on to tell me about his life. At age 24, he was a police officer. He was almost finished with college and had a 3.8 grade point average.
“You really like your job,” I said. “I can tell. You’re also good at it. You’ve made this situation easier.
He beamed. “I do,” he said. “I love it.”
“What about church,” I asked. “Have you ever been?”
“Some,” he said. “I have a Catholic girlfriend but things aren’t serious with us”
“It sounds like you have everything figured out but God. I hope you will give that some thought. Maybe talking to you is why this happened to me tonight.” He smiled, took a card, said goodbye, and drove off.
As Bill and I began unlocking the door to our room, a man and his son walked up beside us to unlock the door next to ours. “Hi,” the man said.
I looked up and saw it was the man from the bus ride into New York. “Hi,” I said. “I’m surprised you didn’t head the other way when you realized it was me.”
“This is the woman I sat with on the bus,” he told his son. The son nodded knowingly. At least he remembered me.
“Bill, this man was my assignment from God this morning.” Having already heard the story, Bill nodded. The man and his son laughed.
“I hope you took everything out of your car,” I said. “Our car got broken into.”
“I’m sorry to hear that,” he said. “Was there much damage?”
Bill and I stood there and told them the story. “I’m hoping the thief reads the website,” I said as we walked into our room.
Early the next morning, Bill and I went to Circuit City to get the car alarm fixed. Once again, we had another opportunity. Carlos, the man who worked on our car wasn’t sure he was a Christian.
“It’s easy to be a Christian,” I said. “All you have to do is believe, confess, and ask Jesus to be a part of your life. Have you done that?”
“I don’t think so,” he said.
“You can do that while you are working on my car,” I said. “Tell Jesus you need Him and invite Him into your life.” Bless this man’s heart. My car door wouldn’t close because the thieves had removed the screws from the running board. He put new screws in and didn’t charge me for the repair. He also didn’t respond to my suggestion.
He slammed the camper door. “At least it’s closing now. You still have a problem with the door panel. It is loose and needs some kind of adhesive. I don’t have the tools to fix it,” he said apologetically.
“Don’t worry,” I said. “I have duct tape.”
I wish I’d snapped a picture of his face when he heard that. “That would probably work,” he said. Was that a hint of admiration I saw in his eyes?
As I left I said, “I suspect you were my assignment from God this morning. He went to a lot of work to get me here. I hope you decide to pray that prayer.”
I left thanking God for so many opportunities in New York and New Jersey. The thief probably thought he’d gotten away with something. Little did he know that God was going to use him to give me several opportunities to give my testimony.