Last week, my pastor asked me to share about "being a lifestyle witness to Jesus" during our Sunday service. When I inquired about what he wanted me to say, he answered, "I want you to share Starbucks stories of blessing and sharing your faith." That's what I thought he meant. These "Starbucks stories" are what I describe as divine appointments---unexpected encounters with people who need a word of encouragement, a listening ear, a caring heart or, in short, a touch from the Lord!
The next lesson was TO BE AVAILABLE. Being available is more difficult because there is a cost involved that may require risk and sometimes sacrifice. It also may be inconvenient. I prayed for a fresh story to share on Sunday morning and it happened Saturday afternoon when I ran to the grocery story to pick up a few groceries. I grabbed a cart and headed down an aisle toward the dairy section. I didn't get far, because a little old man was taking up the whole aisle with his motorized chair. Annoyed, I contemplated turning around as I watched him scrutinize the plethora of potato chips. I could see he was frustrated and unable to find what he was looking for. So, I parked my cart to the far right and offered to help him. He was gruff and seemed ungrateful, yet he asked me the prices of several types of chips as he grabbed one after another, leaving me to figure out how to put them back in the overfilled bins. Finally, we found one he could afford and a flavor he approved of. Then he motored away without a thank you or have a good day. But I smiled as I returned to my cart knowing I'd kept a divine appointment and that I had a new story to tell.
The third lesson I shared was TO BE READY. Ten years ago, the number of divine appointments God brought into my life increased significantly. Around that time, I became very ill and was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. At the same time, I felt compelled to memorize God's Word more than I ever had before. Not just a verse here and there or now and then, but to memorize passages, chapters and even books. The disease caused me to slow down and memorizing Scripture prepared and equipped me to better answer people's questions as well as share life giving truths with more courage, confidence and conviction.
One of my most memorable divine appointments in this season was at Starbucks where I went to have my morning devotions. I sat at my favorite corner window seat with my venti black ice tea (no sweetner, please), my journal and my Bible. Suddenly, a long, slender, perfectly manicured finger pointed to the page I was reading. I looked up to see a beautiful, professional looking woman standing beside me as she asked, "what does it say in the there about...?" From that morning on, and for months after, this woman showed up and asked me questions about the Bible, stretching me beyond my comfort zone, forcing me to articulate my faith and to find the answers to questions I didn't know the answer to. I confess, as I did on Sunday morning, that I don't possess a college degree (I have enough hours, just not all in the same field) and because of this I often feel imtimidated by well-educated and professional people. So, if I had known ahead of time about the degrees this woman possesed, the professional field she worked in and the book she was writing, I never would have had the courage to talk to her about anything, let alone issues of faith and doctrines of the Bible. However, God used me to help answer her questions (some she even used in her book) and He used her to increase my boldness and to strengthen my faith, my knowledge and my witness.
To hear the message that inspired this post please listen at: 8/28/2011, Let's Give Them SomeOne to Talk About, Pastor Mark Slomka, Faith Comm. Church (My small part is at the end)