This is a bit of a humbling post to write, but I feel that it needs to be published. This afternoon, I had the pleasure of chatting with a woman who works for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. We had first met last week, which is how I learned she attended the same college where I took a class during my senior year of high school. It was incredibly encouraging and inspiring to spend an hour sharing our testimonies and our experiences with God, college and the interactions between the two. It’s so amazing to see how God works (and how we react or fail to react) — just this morning, I was sitting in the college’s small eatery.
I was about to pray before eating, when I heard the voices of two women nearby. I didn’t bother to glance at them or listen to what they said — my brain simply recognized female voices. As I began to pray, I felt the sudden urge to speak with them about God, to tell one of them that God was with her and everything would be fine. And I thought, what if they think I’m weird? They’ll stare at the crazy Asian and then they’ll remember me as that psychotic stranger who talked to them about God that one morning. Maybe later. Later came and went, and I started to grab my bag and leave. And that’s when it hit me, that heavy feeling that draws me toward people. No. They’ll think I’m weird. I started toward the doorway. After all, Jonah didn’t listen to God. He ran away. Sort of like what I’m doing right now. If you deny me before men, I will deny you before my Father. That made me pause. Jonah also lived underwater in an intestine — and then he did what God told him to do, anyway. Well, I’m not Jonah. And maybe that wasn’t God. Maybe I was just thinking that I should talk to them about God because I heard their voices right before I prayed. Maybe it’s just all coming together in my head right now. I walked up the stairs, fully aware of the fact that I was going to have a heavy feeling in my heart for the rest of the day.
And so now, the day is over and I have time to reflect on the fact that I didn’t speak to those women about God, that I had a perfect opportunity, that I blew it because I was worried about what they would think. Perhaps I should have just swallowed my pride. Perhaps I should have waited longer — I once circled a Smithsonian building twice and followed a homeless man for a block before catching up to him, because I felt the need to give him money for lunch and it weighed so heavily on me that I couldn’t ignore it, even though I was scared and nervous and everything else. That is the moment I always consider to be my first intense, real, memorable experience with Christ. And it was the same feeling that led me to help the freshman dig her car out of the snow. And it was the same feeling that compelled me to those women, and convicted me when I ignored it.
The devotional I read this morning, from Rebecca St. James’ Pure, included Psalm 118:6 — “The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” And yet, I was afraid. And the Lord was with me. And what had I prayed before breakfast, before sitting down on campus? That God would find a way to use me for His glory. And He did — I didn’t listen. I denied Christ, and the only ones who knew it were us. I spent some time in prayer, after that.
While I was chatting this afternoon, I mentioned the song “Fifteen” by Greg Long. It’s one of my favorites, and as I was reading over the lyrics this evening, two stanzas in particular really stood out to me:
If it takes fifteen times
To hear about Jesus
For someone to believe
Wherever I stand in line
I’ve got to make a difference
In case it comes down to me
‘Cause I may be the third, may be the seventh
There may be years in between
But what if I’m fifteen
What if I’m fifteen
God I don’t want to miss the chances
When you open the door
What may seem so insignificant
You see so much more
After I listened to the song, I created a wallpaper for my BlackBerry. It says “What if I’m 15?” in an effort to remind me that I need to listen to God, even if doing so takes me outside of my comfort zone. Today, I was reminded that living for God isn’t always having coffee with a fellow Christian. Sometimes, it’s walking up to strangers and trusting in God to use you to convey His message. God is always willing to use us. Are we willing to listen?