Are you comfortable talking to strangers? When you are in line at Starbucks, do you strike up a conversation with the person behind you? At a restaurant, have you ever left your table to go and talk to people a few booths down?
As a result of my introversion and being awkward at small-talk, I have never been comfortable doing that.
Until the day God persuaded me to talk to a complete stranger in Yuma, AZ.
WAIT! Did I just say God persuaded me? That sounds a little weird, doesn’t it? I thought so too. Do you know what is even weirder? The fact that I argued with Him.
March 13, 2009, my family and I were driving to San Diego and stopped at a Denny’s in Yuma for dinner. If you have driven from Tucson to San Diego, perhaps you have found yourself at the same Denny’s.
In the middle of ordering, I noticed a family sitting a couple of booths away, besides being aware of them, I didn’t think anything of it.
All of a sudden this feeling, this strange sense, an indescribable prompting washed over me. My heart began to race, and I recognized that the Holy Spirit was getting my attention about something.
Can I be really honest with you?
I didn’t want to answer the call. The best I can describe the feeling is as if I was a teenager out with my friends and saw my dad’s number on the caller ID. If I answered the phone he may ask me to do something that I didn’t want to do. Like going to the store, or coming home to do my homework.
I knew God was up to something with this family. Should I lean into the prompting or just not respond? I didn’t feel like talking to a stranger, I just wanted to eat my Grand Slam in peace.
All things considered, I realize how ridiculous that sounds but I want to be transparent, it would have been easier to keep eating and silently pray for them.
Yet the feeling persisted, I began to wonder what adventure was around the corner. I could feel the nervousness building in my stomach.
As clearly as any thought I have ever had, these loving words filled my head and my heart.
“Don’t do it out of obligation, or work, do it out of My love for them.”
As a result of these words, my nerves were gone. Consequently, my eyes filled with tears out of a love that was so raw, so deep, and SO… did not originate from me.
The fear that I had to talk to them instantly broke off of me. It was an amazing moment with the Lord.
At that moment, I was all in.
I had the excitement that God was about to do something really cool. I found myself filled with anticipation to meet them and talk with them. But, what would I talk with them about? How would I strike up a conversation?
You can’t just walk over to their booth and say, “Wow, God loves you all so much, I can feel it!” I mean I could have, but that would have been really weird and may have involved the police.
So, I prayed quietly.
Over the course of a few minutes not only did I continue to feel an amazing love for each of them, but I also had a sense that there was a very important call on the life of the little boy who sat in the high chair.
In addition, I felt that they have sacrificed a lot for this particular child and that the Lord was going to bless them abundantly through the work He would be doing in the lives of their children. They could be in peace knowing that it would be worth all of the sacrifices they have made.
I have never met these people before in my life!
They had two sweet little boys, one in the booth eating pancakes and one in the high chair stirring cheerios on his tray. All I knew was what I could see with my eyes. Yet I felt like God was prompting me to tell them what I was feeling.
Like a fast download, the thought came, “Ask them if they are in ministry.” “If they say yes, you know the feeling you have is accurate and you can talk with them.”
I can do that!
In reality, I thought, when they say, “No” and look confused, I can just tell them that I thought they were someone else, and at least I tried. Awesome. That is how much confidence I had in what was taking place in the middle of that Denny’s.
After finishing our dinner, I pondered how I was going to explain this to my husband?
I know! After I get the kids buckled in the car, I will go back into the restaurant real quick.
After buckling my kids in I turned around only to be FACE TO FACE in the parking lot with the husband of the family. We were parked next to each other and he was retrieving a diaper bag from his car at the same moment we were leaving.
My heart raced as I said, “Excuse me, sir, are you by chance in ministry?” He said, “Actually, yes, we were laypeople in the church and just recently accepted a paid position.”
What did he just say? Whoa.. here we go…
I proceeded to tell him that I was learning how to hear from the Lord and that I felt Him tell me that there was a very important call on the life of the little boy who sat in the high chair.
In addition, I felt that they had sacrificed a lot for this particular child and that the Lord was going to bless them abundantly through the work He would be doing in the lives of their children. In essence, they could be in peace knowing, it would be worth all of the sacrifices they’ve made.
After I finished, I said, “Does that mean anything to you?”
The man’s eyes began to well up with tears. He pinched the brow of his nose between his two fingers and said, “Thank you, thank you so much.”
He began to tell me that even though they all looked related, the little boy in the high chair was adopted.
His wife had spent a lot of time in Africa trying to adopt him and when they thought it was settled she spent an additional 2 weeks there fighting for him.
Now, my eyes were filled with tears.
After hearing his story, they had indeed sacrificed a lot to have that little boy in their family. We talked for a couple of minutes and then he stopped and said, “I need to go tell my wife what just happened.” We said goodbye and parted ways.
That day, God allowed me to encourage that family and to personally grow in my quest to hear and trust His voice. Not to trust his voice for attention, or for praise. Not because I ‘had’ to or had an ‘obligation’ to be obedient.
He was answering a prayer that I have repeated over and over again, “Lord, show me Your heart for those around me. Send me. Where you go, I go, what you say, I’ll say. This is the cry of my heart.
The thing we yearn for deep within our hearts is often just outside our comfort zone.
We love because He first loved us.1John 4:19
I will never know the impact those words had on that family. I do know, that if I hadn’t stopped and taken that chance, I would have missed a life-changing opportunity to encounter God’s heart.
As believers, He has already reclaimed our story. Every day we learn and grow by walking out that freedom. How can we help share that love with those around us?
Here are 7 things you can do this week to show love to those around you.
- Smile at a stranger for no reason.
- Encourage the mom in the grocery store whose child is having a tantrum.
- Be specific and tell someone a unique attribute that you see in them.
- Pray and ask God to reveal someone who you can invest time into.
- When someone is critical on himself or herself, share life-giving words.
- When you feel a prompting that will result in someone being encouraged, step out.
- Text or message a friend who is going through a hard time.
“Don’t do it out of obligation, or work, do it out of My love for them.”
In our last post, we talked about listening to the truth of what God has to say about you. Now is your chance to go and give that away!
What is one thing you are going to do this week to love someone around you?
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