A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the “Art of Conversation” and a few things I thought were important to think about as we converse and build relationships with others, specifically believers. Yet, a lot of us spend the majority of our days interacting with those that are not saved, that are not “in Christ”. While much of the “art of conversation” can be applied to all people, I do believe we want to take special care and consideration as we seek to live out the Gospel before those who need to know that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
A few years ago, I went to visit my sister. Then, it required a plane ride. Now, in God’s providence, we are only a car ride away!!! Anyway, like I always try to do when I am taking a flight, I prayed that the Lord would keep me from having a selfish heart with my nose glued to a book, and would help me to look for and pursue conversations with those I sat next to. More and more, the Lord is impressing on my heart how fragile life is and how long forever will be. Each person we see, day by day, represents a soul that will spend all of eternity in Heaven or Hell; and I have grown way too comfortable putting my head down, “minding my own business”, and thinking it is someone else’s job to reach that particular soul with the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ.
My two flights heading out to Kansas were completely full except for the seat next to me. Seriously! It was as though the Lord was giving me a thumbs up to getting lost in a book after all. 😉 On the way back, my first flight plopped me next to a guy who had headphones glued to his head from beginning to end. I got the hint. And I started to wonder if my prayers for boldness and for opportunities were going to be answered another day in another way. On the final flight of my trip home, I got comfortable in my chair, only to find out they had double booked that particular seat and I had to move…to the back of the plane. You know, the row of seats right in front of the bathroom. Always fun. I could tell the gal right across from me was not super happy to be sitting where she was herself. Apparently, there was a mix up with her ticket as well. As I would soon learn, it was clearly a Divine “mix-up” for both of us. 🙂
Over the course of 2 hours, and lots of conversations ranging from politics to dogs to car accidents to raising children, I was able to share the Gospel with this gal. The truths from God’s Word didn’t always come out the way I wanted, my shirt was wet with sweat, and short “Help me, Lord” prayers were continually flowing from the lips of my thoughts. Looking back, there are some things I would have said differently, some things I wish I would have said, and a few things I wish I had not said…but my heart was so very thankful to introduce her to the Love of my life and the only One who can save her soul and rescue her from her sin.
I was also thankful that the Lord brought to mind things I had been learning and helped me put them into practice. Over that past month, I had a great “teacher” who gave me some simple tools to grab on to as I seek to reach out and start conversations with others, specifically those who are not in Christ. Greg Koukl wrote a book called “Tactics: A game plan for discussing your Christian convictions” and I am thankful for his words, his encouragements, and some of the steps he shared. (The first half of the book was incredibly helpful. The second half of the book was filled with logical types of “apologetic arguments” and I started to feel like I was drowning in the deep end. Apparently logic does not occupy a lot of my brain matter. 😉 But I quickly learned that being thrown into the deep end forced me to swim with intensity and exercise muscles I might not otherwise work…so, it’s worth the read from cover to cover if you ask me!)
He strongly encouraged asking questions, a pattern that Christ employed often, and he suggested some great questions to ask. Those questions came back to me and were helpful in better understanding what this gal believed and where she was coming from…and even helped HER to have to think through why she believed what she believed. As a result of those questions, she ended up admitting her authority came from her own opinion, whereas I sought to take her to the authority of Scripture in showing what I believed and why. And don’t start thinking highly of me. I was just a student trying to apply what I was learning and sweating through layers of clothing in the process! 😉
One of my favorite “tools” that I learned from Mr. Koukl came in Chapter 2:
“I encourage you to consider the strategy I use when God opens a door of opportunity for me. I pray quickly for wisdom, then ask myself this: What one thing can I say in this circumstance, what one question can I ask, what seed can I plant that will get the other person thinking? Then I simply try to put a stone in the person’s shoe…..Be content to plant a seed that might later flourish under God’s sovereign care.”
It was one flight, it was one seat, and it was one tactic…to put a stone in her shoe. I pray the Lord does not allow her to find rest, until she finds rest in Him! And I pray that the Lord would continue to prompt me, to prompt all of us…whether it be a gentle nudge or a kick in the pants…to “proclaim the excellencies of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.”
There are lots of stones to be dropped, lots of seeds to be sown…may we be those who live moment by moment with hands full of both!