I have had a full day of ministry. On the way to my morning preaching engagement in the city I live in I needed something to eat. So, stoped at a 7-11 (thank Heaven). I was able to find a banana and an apple to eat. Good food – not junk food. When you are on the road as much as I am you soon grow tired of junk food and start looking for healthy substitutes.
Struck up a conversation with the clerk – which I always do. She was tired and fed up and not wanting to be at work. So, I asked if she was at the end of the shift (so worked all night) or just beginning. I was fishing – afterall I had an extra 15 minutes than I needed to get to the Church and set up. The door did not open no matter how much I pried. No guilt! I went fishing as I have been commanded to do and caught nothing. Got in my car and drove off – enjoyed the banana, the apple was soft.
Good service – good Word from the Lord for the people – connected with three or four young men who have calls upon their lives. Several are really struggling wth issues but that is okay. Who isn’t? The key is that God has chosen them and now they need to decide what to do with this call. Out for lunch with a group from the Church – then home.
Walked the dog – a nice way to say I went fishing again. Few people out walking their dogs and even fewer just out walking or sitting in the parks we pass through. It is a long weekend here in this area and it was also 30C. Did work at striking up several conversations – one with a man my own age whose dog got lose and ran after my pup.He was with friends and so did not open up as he has in the past when it was just him and I. I tried.
Also tried to catch a young fellow skateboarding … they usually go around the bend and up the hill and then turn around. Spotted him and walked faster to see if I could catch him on the return trip down. Surprize! He must live close by as he totally disappeared off the radar and never returned. I tried.
On the way to a Church picnic near supper time stopped in at a gas station to buy ice… did much better here as John, the young guy at the counter, was ribbing the other clerk (I think they are going out together) about the eyebrow piercing and nose ring and… He did not have any visable signs of decoration. She was telling him how this helped to add beauty to her body. Body beautiful – each to his or her own taste. So, I jumped in and warned him (in a fun way) that he was treading on dangerous ground speaking to a young lady like that. The conversation, although light-hearted and fun, did open up and I was actually making progress (in spite of my time pressures) when three other customers came in to pay for their gas. It ended. I tried.
Near the end of the picnic with a great group of Christians from the Church I pastor (even though not there a great deal recently) I was walking our dog who came with us … standing talking with a believer when this guy in his thirties and in obvious great shape walks by shirtless and with super low stretch jeans on (like the Rufskin or N2N Bodywear brands). Now he thought he was beautiful and he wanted everyone in the park to know it. Tattooed from the top of his shoulders, down both arms (tribal bands) and down the sides of his chest (more tribal bands all connected) and then a separate one (but similar) around his navel. It actually looked decent as far as tattoos go these days. Well done and some thought behind it. Another ‘body beautiful’ this time on display and not behind the counter. But, no go.
I was listening to someone share with me some personal concerns and I am sure they were not thinking: “I should let Ralph go so he can talk to this guy.” I was not about to be released so that I could engage this guy in a conversation. The person I was listening to was not thinking about this person at all which is normal and natural, I am sure. And, I have to admit, that this guy was about all I could think about. Spiritually or supernaturally that usually means they are ready to hear the Gospel. The way the Holy Spirit tells me that someone is ready to listen to His Good News is to draw my attention to them and not let my attention waver. Within the space of 15 minutes I had three possible opportunities with this young man as he chased his kids up the slides, pushed them on the swings, took them to the water fountain – but the Christian still had me engaged. I did not want to be rude – but…. Well, at least I was trying.
General thoughts arising out of my personal frustration – mostly not connected to tonight’s event…
Have you noticed how few Christians work at or are intentional about talking to the non-Christians we rub shoulders with? Almost like they don’t exist in the world in which they live. I find it very frustrating. We are called as believers to “go into all the world” and yet we are so wrapped up in our own little world that we fail to see the bigger world (full of people) out there…
I find it even more frustrating when I am kept from starting a conversation with the non-believers because I am in a conversation with a believer. Happens a lot – end of services, in restaurants and coffee shops, on the streets, with people I take along to teach them to minister. Don’t get me wrong – I really do like Christians and hanging out with them. But, let’s be honest about a number of things…
1> Christians can often be almost totally self-absorbed and so focused on themselves that they miss great opportunities to talk with and engage the non-Christian world.
2> Christians, because they talk a lot about themselves, can be boring – very boring. Well, someone had to say it!
3> Christians always seem to need to talk about “spiritual things” when around me – ministry, some vision they have had, a Bible passage they thought interesting … maybe it is because I am a pastor and they think they have to do this. Wish they wouldn’t!
4> Christians are focused on problems – usually their own – instead of being focused on Jesus who is the answer to their problems and focusing on others who need Jesus.
5> Apparently it is not important to most Christians that most of the people they are sharing the planet with are headed to a Christless eternity while they hold in the hearts, heads, and hand the solution to this problem.
It has been a long day fishing and I guess I am just tired. Forgive me for ranting on a bit (or a lot).