Lately I’ve been subbing at piano for church while our wonderful Jackie is out on maternity leave. While I’ve learned to be comfortable and even have fun playing as part of the praise band, I still need lots of practice to do it well. So on Sunday mornings I get up early to be at church before the others and do a quick run through of the music on my own.
I’ve taken to stopping by the local convenience store to grab a piece of fruit and cup of coffee. The first two Sundays a nice young man was working there. He greeted me and was very pleasant, not averse to conversation even though it was 7 a.m. and no one else was up and about yet. As I got into my car that second Sunday, I had a thought which I couldn’t decide was a ‘God nudge’ or not. God gives me those from time to time, and if you’ve read any of my other writings you know I’ve learned not to ignore them. But I want to be careful not to act on my own will if I’m not pretty sure it’s something He wants me to do. I sat in my car sipping coffee, considering whether I was supposed to go back in and give that young man a Bible, maybe tell him the gospel. I was running a bit late and knew I needed to practice, but also knew that not missing a chance to share the gospel was more important.
Even now I can’t say exactly why I drove away without going back in, but something just told me to drive on to church. I decided that if God wanted me to talk with that guy and give him a copy of the Word I could do it next Sunday. I asked God not to let me miss an opportunity if that was what He wanted.
During the week I thought about the incident several times, and became more eager to see him on Sunday and give him a Bible from the small supply I keep in my car to give away when the Spirit moves me. In our land of plenty, I am determined that no one should have to go through life without one if they want a copy.
The following Sunday I was at the store at 7 sharp, wanting plenty of time to talk with him before I needed to leave for church. I pulled into the parking lot, empty as always at that time, grabbed the Gideon New Testament with Psalms and Proverbs I’d selected and headed in. Usually he was outside smoking a cigarette and we would walk in together, but today he was nowhere in sight. In fact, no one was in sight. The store was open so I went in and around to the coffee counter. Coffee, banana and Bible in hand I walked back to the checkout. And saw a young lady I’d never seen before. Dang, I thought. I missed my chance last week and now he’s not working today. Maybe he’s sick, or moved to another store, or got fired, or something happened to him and I didn’t get to talk to him. I was ready to kick myself in the butt, disappointment forming around my heart.
The lady didn’t seem very friendly or talkative, but I said good morning as she rang up my purchases. She replied with a tired smile and a brief greeting. I asked how her day was starting off. She said it had started much earlier and she was already tired. I was picking up my things when I saw the Bible and it dawned on me. Maybe this was the person God wanted me to give the Bible to. I looked up at her and she looked up from what she was doing behind the counter.
“Do you have a Bible?” I asked. “No, I don’t,” she replied, suddenly engaged in our conversation and showing a lot of interest. “Would you like one?” I asked. “Yes!” she answered. I handed her the book and was about to begin speaking again when she walked away with it, holding it firmly. Before I could utter a sound she had it open, already lost in the pages and had totally forgotten I was there. I stood there, speechless and realized again that God had His own plan He wanted to carry out, despite my carefully thought out idea.
I exited the store and got in the car, marveling anew at how He works. In this case, it wasn’t about me or how prepared I was to speak the good news to this lady. This time all God asked of me was to be ready, Bible in hand, and ask her if she wanted it. I didn’t even get a chance to talk to her. Obviously He wanted to speak to her directly and didn’t need my words on this occasion. I said a prayer of thanks that He knows what He’s doing even when I don’t. I prayed for her salvation if she wasn’t and for her to be encouraged and closer to Jesus if she was. Either way, God is in control and I don’t have to worry about it. All I have to do is be willing. What a mighty God we serve!