I was sitting behind a woman, this morning, in church that was broken. I've been called out on my use of the word before, so let me clarify. It was not her look that spoke to me; it was her heart. She was heavy on my mind and I couldn't make out why. I didn't know her - hadn't met her before - but her face was all I could see. I tried pushing it aside so I could worship [real noble, right?], but the Holy Spirit kept bringing it back. I finally opened my eyes and saw tears streaming down her face. I instantly heard the quiet words of Casting Crowns', Does Anybody Hear Her.
I took her in, while the loop ran through my head. She is running...A hundred miles an hour in the wrong direction...Her face showed years of hardship. She is trying...But the canyon's ever widening...In the depths of her cold heart...I could tell she hadn't slept in weeks. So she sets out on another misadventure just to find...She's another two years older...And she's three more steps behind. The same pain that wracked her mind was written in the faces of her nearby husband and young girls. Does anybody hear her? Can anybody see? Or does anybody even knows she's going down today? That line punched me in the gut. Under the shadow of our steeple...With all the lost and lonely people...Searching for the hope that's tucked away in you and me...Does anybody hear her? Can anybody see?
Service ends, her family gathers their things and I throw my God-given word to Ben like any totally confident, God-fearing, woman would do...."Honey, grab those people and say, 'hello'."
Yes I really did this!
I was answered with a quizzical stare and in the time it took me to halfway explain why, they were gone. My heart was pounding, hands sweating. I raced after them and threw another half answer to Ben, before I was off. While I zigzagged my way through the lobby I thought of all the things I could say. Here's where a little slap in the back of the head would have been helpful. I didn't need to think about all the things I could say. I needed to think about the one thing the Holy Spirit had asked me to say.
She was just reaching out for the lobby doors, when I breathlessly pulled myself together and mustered a weak, "Hi."
Good start, poor finish.
I don't know why...but I couldn't bring myself to ask her if there was anything I could do for her. It seemed too lame (just being honest). Too broad.
I mean, what if she thought I was creepy? Or what if she asked me to do something I couldn't do? Or what if she asked for money? I thought about playing the odds and just throwing a handful of gift cards I knew I had in my purse, at her - can't everyone's problems be solved with Starbucks, Chili's, and Barnes and Noble? I know. LAME. It all sounded a lot more helpful in my head. My bright idea stopped short as soon as I realized said purse was in the car. Darn.
Instead, I rolled with [and this was sincere], "The Lord put you on my heart and I wanted to take a minute to introduce myself. We are so glad you came to church, this morning." I knew she was a visitor because she raised her hand for a visitor's card. As soon as the words left my mouth, she started to cry. She went into how her little boy had just died before Christmas and this was the first time she had left the house...Somebody knew somebody that knew the pastor (who did the funeral) which brought her to us that morning.
I hugged her. Told her how sorry I was to hear that...and how thankful I was that God had led her to Grace [the church]. We talked a bit more. I complimented her girls' long hair and watched her walk out the door.
I blew it.
The interaction wasn't cold or abrupt or awkward, but it also wasn't Spirit led.
Why did I have the better idea? Why couldn't I just ask the question I had been given?
God has asked me to say and do some pretty funky stuff that never made me flinch....I once told a suite-mate in college, after only a few weeks of knowing her, that the Lord had woken me in the middle of the night to tell her that her health concern was valid; she had an STD. I told her the next morning. [We also prayed for complete healing, which came later in the semester]. Talk about creepy! That should have made my knees shake...but I was strong. In the Lord.
Today, I failed.
The part that digs the deepest has nothing to do with the woman. Thank God, he doesn't depend on me to make his plans work. Someone else will reach out; someone else will ask the question. It's not her, I'm worried about it. It's me.
What has taken over my life that the voice of God is faint and his tasks far between? Where did my God-given confidence to walk out love disappear to?
Apart from him, I know that today's little mishap could have gone unnoticed. But I'm choosing to share it because I want the exposure. I want to be found out. I want my heavenly Father to reveal unrighteousness in me. I want to be better. I want to be more.
I love that Casting Crowns' song. Under the shadow of our steeple...With all the lost and lonely people...Searching for the hope that's tucked away in you and me...Does anybody hear her? Can anybody see?
I don't ever want to be accused of not seeing. What a waste to have the hope in me stay tucked away!
I am praying for my friend, by name, tonight. Praying that whatever it is she needed from me she received from another Believer. Praying that God will continue to use me and whisper opportunities to my heart...
I'm also praying that everyone reading this would be reminded that there is a world of lost and lonely people that need the hope of Jesus. Don't make my blunder. Listen for the voice of the Lord and see his people.
Really see them.