An Unexpected Call
This particular Friday started not unlike most Fridays, as I was working at my desk with elation that the weekend was fast approaching. Then my cell phone displayed an incoming call from my mom. She doesn’t usually call me at work, so I knew it must be important. My intuition proved right, as tears filled my eyes at my mom’s words. A few hours later, my husband and I boarded an airplane to Chicago for my grandfather’s funeral.
Many questions raced through my mind. Two of the biggest ones involved the Gospel Message:
1. How do I reach out to my extended family members who are non-Christians and are grieving during this time?
2. What is the most effective way to distribute “May I Ask You a Question?” tracts?
The funeral was well attended with family members coming everywhere from Texas to Maine, and even Japan. Every grandchild was present. My grandfather had anticipated this and arranged in advance to have a pastor officiate who would proclaim the Gospel in the eulogy. There was also a table set up with Bibles and pamphlets on it that were free for the taking.
An Unexpected Joy
I was filled with joy to see many “God moments” take place. One of my cousins chose to take a Bible. Others didn’t take anything, but heard the Gospel clearly for the first time.
After the burial, we were told that we were free to take home some of the flowers. I chose some white flowers that vividly reminded me of our joyous hope of new life in Christ. Every time I look at the flowers, I am reminded of a verse that was read at the burial, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies.” (John 11:25)
An Unexpected Moment
As I boarded the plane to fly home, I carried a vase with my white flowers. The pilot commented, “Did you get those flowers from a special someone?” I replied that they were from my grandfather’s funeral, as we passengers were herded to our seats.
When the plane landed, the pilot again singled me out, “Did your grandfather lead a good life?” I was caught off guard by his question, but replied “Yes.” “Good,” said the Pilot, “That is all anyone can ever ask for.”
I wanted to say more but was caught in the ebb and flow of the tide of disembarking passengers. Walking through the airport, I berated myself on not having managed to come up with a better quick response. It had seemed like such a prime opportunity dropped right in my lap. I had expected to have opportunities to be a witness to family members, but I had never anticipated the chance to be a witness to the airplane pilot. Thankfully, my failures do not limit God, for He is the one that ultimately draws people to Himself.
A Few Tips
We can’t prevent unexpected situations from occurring, but they can be ideal teaching moments. Here are some lessons I learned from that moment:
1.) Expect that God will show up in unexpected ways.—Don’t have a limited view of His power. He can and does accomplish His will in a variety of ways.
2.) Learn to recognize natural bridges to the Gospel.—There are often more opportunities to share Christ than we might think. Pray for opportunities, and don’t be surprised by what God does.
3.) Practice short scenarios.—For example, picture yourself on an elevator with 30 seconds until the door opens. A fellow passenger asks you a question that is a natural segue into a quick sentence about your faith. How would you use that moment to plant a seed?
4.) Don’t be afraid to fail. We don’t know until we step out in faith what God will accomplish.
5.) Be careful of falling into the trap of thinking that someone else would do a better job at your God given task.—It happened to Moses, and it still happens today. The Apostle Paul wrote that it is in our weaknesses that Christ is made strong. Christ delights to use our weaknesses to bring about magnificent things, for in those situations, He gets all the glory, and we get none.
What are some situations (good or bad) from your own experiences that have been teaching moments?