Needless to say, while on my knees all week, I had quite a bit of time to think, and to listen. It is interesting when we pause to listen to God, what he can teach us. (More on that in another post.)
It's also interesting the opportunities, when we are looking, we have to teach others important aspects of the nature of God, the salvation God offers, or to simply share what God is teaching us.
The other morning I was taking our oldest to school. We were talking about the seasons of the year and how winter is, far and away, my least favorite season. Then came the question that opened the door: Why? There are all sorts of reasons I listed: it's cold, it's muddy, gloomy, the kids have to stay inside (and thus are more likely to drive everyone absolutely insane - I kept that part to myself), just to name a few. Then, in a moment of clarity, I realized that God opened a door for me.
Here is how the rest of the conversation went:
Me: You know what winter reminds me most? Everything is dead. That reminds me of my sin. All the things I do wrong are as ugly, more ugly, as my sin. Because of sin, I am dirty, my life is gloomy, and hopeless. But do you know what my favorite part of winter is? The end of it. I know spring is coming. You know what spring brings? LIFE! Trees start budding, flowers grow, grass turns green, everything comes back to life! That reminds me that my sin is not the end of the story. It's because of Jesus' death on the cross that I, too, have life. He forgives my sin, washes me clean, and gives me new life! That's why I can tolerate winter, because spring is coming.
My Eldest: Hmm.No, there was no major conversion moment. We weren't rushing to the nearest body of water for a baptism, but it gave them something to think about. Seeds were sown. God alone can do the rest.
1 Peter 3:15 says:
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,The conversation could have gone completely different and I could have missed a teachable moment. (Full disclosure: I miss teachable moments ALL THE TIME. This was an instance where I was prepared and listening to the leading of the Holy Spirit. I don't want you to get the wrong impression.)
There are opportunities each and every day that we miss with our children, our co-workers, the kids we coach, teach, those within our circle of influence. We miss opportunities to teach, to rebuke, correct, or train. 2 Timothy 3:16 (catching that there are quite a few powerful 3:16 verses in the Bible?) says,
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.How to we ensure that we are prepared for opportunities?
1. Be in the Word. This is critical for every Christian. We will not hear the leading of God without the Word of God. Invest it in your life. If you need help learning how, ask me, ask someone, whatever you do, don't let more time go by without being in the Bible.
2. Pray for opportunities. Ask God for opportunities to share the hope that you have. I will 100% money back guarantee He will provide. Be specific. If there is someone you know you need to talk with, ask God for opportunities with the person specifically.
3. Speak up. With gentleness and respect, respond to the opportunities. Whatever you do, remember the gentleness and respect part. Imagine how differently my conversation could have gone if I simply said: "Winter reminds me of my sin and if I have sin I am going to burn in hell. You want that for your life, kid? You better straighten up your attitude then!" Imagine how scarring that could be! More damage has been done against the Kingdom of God by Christians who were arrogant, condescending, and rude. We have to remember that unbelievers are not approaching life with the same worldview as you. We cannot expect a non-Christian to act like a Christian. We can expect, however, a Christian to act like a Christian. Use gentleness and respect.
- As a side note for parents: Talk with your kids, especially in the car. Some of the best, and most intimidating, conversations are made easier in the car. You know why? You have no eye contact. You have no other option. It is often easier to have challenging conversations, you will also notice they will have an easier time opening up when they don't feel like you are staring them down. Take advantage of drive time. (Be prepared if they drop the bomb on you about something shocking...there are inherent dangers learning about these types of things while driving...1. Breath. 2. Brake gently if you must use your breaks. 3. Keep your hands at 10 & 2. This is not the time to choke anyone or to steer off the road. You get the idea.)
- Don't force it. Everything doesn't have to be a "lesson." Pray for wisdom in choosing the right moments.
4. Pray again. Pray that God will bring life. You can't do that. Only God brings life and hope. Allow All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. to be used by Him how He sees fit and trust Him with the results.
I believe if we are actively and wisely listening and looking for opportunities, you'll see a whole new world before you. Look for where God is at work and join him.