Last night Eric and I flew home from a conference we were attending all week. I was tired, I was cranky, I just wanted to get on the airplane maybe read my magazine, but most definitely enjoy a nice long nap. We had a great week at the conference, I learned a ton, my mind had been swirling and whirling with all that we were soaking in, but I was also exhausted. I missed my kids, our routine, and I was just ready to get home.
Upon taxiing to take off I grabbed a piece of gum and went to put the pack back into my purse. While I was putting the pack away I heard a voice say "offer them a piece." Now, I wasn't sure if this was God or my mom's voice of politeness coming through. And at first I was like no, not going to do that. All while this was happening in my head I was trying to put that dumb pack of gum back in a pocket that was like twice the size of the pack. So logically it should fit. So again in my head, I was like fine, I will offer the guys on either side of me a piece of gum. Eric and I were not sitting together on the way home. The guy on my left said no thanks, but the guy on my right was like yes, please. So I give him the gum, get the pack back into the pocket and sit back for my nice long nap. Before I could close my eyes the conversation started.
Now I have always loved people who tell me their awesome airplane stories, like we talked, connected, they were baptized in the lavatory right there. I always wanted that to be me, I have dreamed of a conversion story like this. But not last night, nope, I wanted a nap, I didn't want God to interrupt me, and my agenda. So I unwillingly answer his questions, and the conversation kept going, and going. It went all the way until we got off the plane and down the ramp. Then we parted ways.
Once I realized I was in for the long haul during the plane ride I kept praying that God would give me the right words to say, that the Holy Spirit would take over and I would say just what this guy needed to hear. To be honest I was disappointed because none of that happened. I didn't say anything out of the ordinary, and there was no plane seat conversion and baptism happening in the tiny bathroom. I honestly felt like I failed, I failed being a Christian, and I failed God. I thought how can we plant a church when I can't lead the guy sitting in 44E to Christ?! The whole drive home from the airport I kept thinking of how the conversation could have gone differently, how maybe I should have 1-2-3 punched him with the good news.
So after sitting on it for a night, here's my encouragement to you...
1. It's not your job to transform anyone, it's God's. That should take the pressure off of you. It's your job to represent Christ in the best way possible, but ultimately it's God job to transform someone. You may just be the starting point for them.
2. Share your story. God gave each of us a story, SHARE IT. You may think your story is boring and no one could possibly relate or be interested, you may think your story is so far out there no one will believe you, or you may tell someone you are planting a church and they look at you like you just grew a third head. I am getting used to this look. They may not express a lot of interest at first or at all, but I guarantee you this, they will think about your story later on, and they will start to wonder what their story is.
3. Listen carefully. Last night this guy was just coming off his own conference experience, and he was all geeked out on what he learned. He really didn't care what I was selling, so I just listened. Which at first I was like c'mon dude, how can I convert you to Jesus if you keep talking. But then I was like maybe I am the only who does listen to him.
4. Find something you both can relate to. This guy had no real interest in Jesus, or church, he was not married, and did not have kids. My conversation starters are now limited...so we talked pets. He used to run an animal rescue, so I listened to him talk about all of the animals he helped, and what he learned along the way. We shared funny pet stories, and showed off pet pictures.
Here's the deal, not every conversation you have is going to be a home run. There are numerous, countless times I walk away shaking my head thinking, goodness gracious, why on earth did you say that?! For me the most important things are being aware of the people around you, pray for God's wisdom, and be open to the Holy Spirit guiding the conversation. I don't have some awesome airplane story, and I may never have one. But I pray that I made a slight impact on that guy's life. I pray I represented Christ well, and that he realized not all people who love God are judgmental and out to condemn him.
Today I started praying for Michael, and his future. I will probably never run into him again, and that's okay, but I won't stop praying for him.