And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”
We had just finished Sara Ashley's first horseback riding lesson with a new instructor and I wanted to let her select a new book for summer reading, so we went to visit our local Barnes & Noble. That's where I found her, parked comfortably in a wooden chair that she had pulled up to the "Young Readers 7-12" section of the book store. On the ground next to her sat a basket full of her already selected books, and she continued to peruse the shelves looking for more. As I walked the aisle, she kindly asked me if she was in my way. Her age and obvious difficulty with mobility seemed to have her pinned to her chosen spot where she was able to reach both left and right for multiple titles.
"No, your just fine. Thank you, " I replied.
Sara Ashley and I continued our search. Me pulling books off of the shelf and reading the backs, looking for Newberry Awards and interesting plots. Her looking at the cover photograph or illustration and for pictures of horses. It is always a challenge to find the "right" book for her, not wanting to select something too difficult that will deter her from reading, but also not wanting to select something so easy that she doesn't learn or relate to it.
"Have you heard about the summer reading club for kids?" she asked me.
"No, thanks for sharing, " I replied, and she passed me a flier. On it were listed free books that could be earned by reading ten books over the summer. The free books were divided by grade and gave me a good idea of some suggestions for my daughter.
I began pulling the suggested reading from the shelf when she engaged in more conversation.
"I'm looking for my granddaughter. She likes dragons and fantasy. Does this look like something your daughter would like?" and she handed me the book.
Sara Ashley is not a dragon kind of girl but I gladly accepted the book and thanked her. It was then that I lamented to her that I had a hard time finding just the right book for my daughter, although I didn't go into details.
"Well, I do too," she agreed. "My granddaughter has a learning disability."
Really??? Wow! Of all the people I could have run into that day, God sent me to this kind lady who shared her story with me about her "granddaughter." As it turns out, this ten year old isn't really her granddaughter at all, but is the child of a friend who is down on her luck."Nana", as this woman is affectionately called, has taken in this young girl and is raising her as her own. Nana is a retired school teacher and media specialist doing the best she can to help her "granddaughter" navigate the school system and get what she needs in order to maximize her potential. As we lamented about the challenges involved, I looked for just the right moment to share how God was helping me and others through this often painful and frustrating process.
My heart urged me to share with her how God was working in my life and my daughter's life to show His love and glory. Regretfully, although we talked for about 15 minutes, I never found what I thought was the right opportunity to tell her this. Although I'm sorry that this opportunity didn't seem to present itself, I still know that by simply slowing down enough to have this conversation, we were both blessed in the process.
The following Sunday in church our pastor's sermon was on "Storytelling." He encouraged us to step out in faith and share with others who are hurting our own personal stories of God's love in our lives. After all, His love is not limited. It is for everyone. Of course, this reminded me of my time at Barnes & Noble earlier in the week and my missed opportunity. How many more opportunities have I missed over the years? How many do I miss every week? God puts us in situations to minister to others, and to share His love. I don't want to have to live with regret next time I am faced with this opportunity.
How can we step out of our comfort zones and share our faith effectively? God has done so much in my life that I often find myself wanting to shout it from the mountain tops. But, knowing how I would've reacted to that type of "evangelism" in the past, I don't want to scare away others who are still on the fence about their faith in God. Be sure to read Faith Sharing Part II on Thursday to learn how God can effectively use each of us to share His love.