Have you ever had that feeling? You claim high and loud to want to serve Your God, and you mean it! But - when He gives you the possibility you find yourself thinking "This way Lord? Are you sure...?". I tend to think I know best how He should use me - He doesn't often agree with me. Fortunately.
A while ago a friend of mine said "if you don't think God uses you - try Him, tell Him that you are there, ready to serve, willing to be used, that day - but then don't be surprised when He takes you up on it".
So, it was a Sunday afternoon... church over, gorgeous weather... think French city - a lake in the middle and mountains on the other side of it. This is the city where I live, Annecy. It's one of the biggest tourist cities in France - and there's a good reason for that. There's an old part of town, castle and all, and by the lake you find a huge open space, all grass. This space is there for the public. It was donated to the city by the previous owner with the condition that it would always be kept the way it is, there for the people who live in Annecy to enjoy.
Back to my Sunday afternoon- my first day out in shorts and t-shirt. I take my book and go down to sit in the grass, enjoy the book, the sun and the warm weather. They say that Scandinavians thrive on sun and warmth and for me that is true. I just want to be out - I have tons of energy and my mood jumps up at least 50%. It's not that I'm depressed when it's cold - but I'm just so much happier in the sun and warmth... Unfortunately my skin doesn't agree with too much sun - something I challenge every year to see if it's changed - but so far no luck.
As I'm sitting there, my face to the sun I think "God - if you want to send me someone that I should talk to... Go ahead". Then I picked up my book and started reading.
Two minutes later a man approaches and starts talking to me. He literally cuts straight across the grass aiming right for me. My first stirrings of "God... are you sure?" He promptly introduces himself - we can call him Said, he tells me his nationalities, Lebanese-Algerian, makes some remarks about the color of my skin (very white) and asks if he can sit down and talk to me. Now, strange men coming up commenting on your skin and asking to sit down... Suffice to say I was not comfortable. But... I had told God he could send me someone if He wanted to... dare I take the risk that He is sending me this man and turn him away? I don't know about you - but I didn't dare risking that. So I told Said he could sit down.
He started talking about how open and friendly I was compared to people in the region (though my French is good - I definitely have an accent and I look Scandinavian so it's pretty clear I'm not French). I made some remarks about not agreeing...to which he basically answered "you probably don't have the same experience as I do - you have probably never experienced racial discrimination". Well, no I haven't. I tried to keep the conversation light - answering, and smiling, not offering much information about me, but as I said - I would not by any means say that I was at ease (I was actually quite happy there were plenty of people around). At one point as he was talking about there not being much cultural diversity in Annecy - I thought Ah! My opening! And said "that's not true for my church - at last count we had at least 14 different nationalities". He started, then said something along the lines of me having probably guessed that he was born Muslim. Well, yes, I had pretty much assumed he was. He quickly told me that he was raised Muslim but had abandoned the faith and did not believe in anything. He then said the Muslims and Christians agree that Jesus is God's son - Muslims just think he's one of God's several sons. I said well, that makes the whole difference... and the discussion went back and forth for a while. Then at one point he asked me why I was a Christian. Without thinking I answered "Because God called me". He stopped, looked at me and said "really?" I said yes. He continued "I was sure you'd say because you were raised that way". Now this is normally what I would have answered (or as the beginning of an answer) - and I can't tell you why I answered the way I did. What I do know is that my answer made an impact on him.
This is not a story of how he broke down in tears, confessed his sin and accepted Jesus as his savior. I wish but no...The story pretty much ends here. Very quickly after that remark he stood up and left.
So what's the moral of this story?
I do not believe in coincidences - I believe in God.
I believe God saw that I was sincere about serving (though preferably in my way) - decided to challenge me a bit, and take me up on it. And I praise Him for it. I believe the Holy Spirit made me answer the way I did. I do not know why.
I firmly believe that in some way I served God that afternoon. I will probably never know exactly how or what impact my words had. But that's ok. Because I do know, that for once (I have missed too many opportunities) I did answer "present" when God wanted to use me, even if I wasn't sure that He really knew what He was doing...
And that makes me feel GOOD!
The God of all gods, King of all Kings, Creator of heaven and earth doesn't need me. But I think he smiles at me when I express my willingness to serve Him - and do my best in spite of all my failings - and that makes all the difference, doesn't it?