Divine Encounters

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Dennis called me around lunch time today and asked me what I was doing.  I happened to be in town so he asked if I wanted to meet him for lunch.  We have been “in between blessings” (thanks for that one, Lora Williams) in our finances, we decided to “do lunch” at Taco Bell (yep, under $7 for both of us- for all you Dave Ramsey groupies).  While we were waiting for our order, we sat down and were discussing the cost of something (maybe gas??).  There was an elderly gentleman sitting in the booth across the aisle.  He joined our conversation.

He was telling us about driving a Renault all the way to Niagara Falls (the Canadian side).  He said it got 56 miles to the gallon.    And here we are looking for fuel efficiency.  Anyway, it was a nice conversation.  Since my grandparents have all passed on there are very few elderly people in my life.  I really miss conversations with that generation.  It is a peek into history from people who lived it. 

In a few minutes, his wife joined him.  They told us they were married in 1953.  They had been married 56 years.  (Dennis and I are going to have to live to be pretty old in order for that to happen). As we are eating, they are waiting for their order.  The lady looks at Dennis who happens to be wearing a cross on a leather band around his neck.  She boldly asks him if he is a Christian.  He boldly replies “Yes”.  She said, “In one sentence, what does forgiveness mean?” (Was this a pop quiz??) She begins to explain the gospel in very simple banking terms.  Seriously, we were being witnessed to at Taco Bell by a lady who was at least almost 80 years old. She knew what she was talking about.  She said, “If you have a debt, how is that debt forgiven?” We answered, “When it is paid in full”.  They shared quiet a bit with us in a short period of time. 

They told us, they were attracted to each other and married because they both wanted to know the Word of God.  They both wanted to understand it and have knowledge of it.  They had two daughters who were both living for God, two son-in-laws who were men of God and grandchildren who all served the Lord…and great-grand kids who they expected to serve God.  (What a legacy)  They told us, the law (Biblical law) was not created for us but to point us to fact that we need a savior.  They said when raising their children, they applied the law but once their children accept Jesus Christ, they applied grace.  They would simply ask the question, “What would Jesus say about this?”  (Reminds me of a previous blog I wrote about Graham Cook and accountability – sometimes all you have so say is “You were made for more than this”). 

My husband calls me “curious”.  I always want to know.  I need all the information…I want to know everything.  I always have a question.  My burning question to this couple was, “Where did you learn to witness? Did you take a class?”  (Maybe I could sign up)  Instead I asked her where they went to church.  She said a church on 306 (or was it 309??) called something Country church….she didn’t want to talk about that really.  She told me “We aren’t religious.  We are in a relationship with Jesus.  Religion is about us coming to God on our terms.  Relationship is about us coming to God on His terms.  Like Cain and Abel.  Cain was a very religious man on his terms.”  She went on to tell me that everything they knew they learned from the Bible.  “Read your Bible.  Read the Epistles – the letters Paul wrote”.  WOW.  I feel like God sent an angel into my path to tell me exactly what He wants me to do.

Then she said something that really hit home with this current vain of the importance of the Word of God.  She said, “Every account in the Bible is about someone listening to and obeying God’s Word for their life.” God told Noah to build and ark.  Moses was told to deliver Israel and give them the law. Every account in the Bible is about following God’s voice. 

This is why Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 3:2-3

 You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men;  clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.

We are writing our book of the Bible now.  The Book of Acts (the Acts of the Church of Jesus Christ) is not really complete.  What story does your life tell?

I left Taco Bell feeling a little convicted.  I asked myself, “How bright is your light shining if other Christians are witnessing to you?” (no Dennis and I were not fighting)  This woman was bold for Jesus.  She didn’t care if people thought she was old or crazy.  She loves Jesus.  Let’s admit it, we don’t really witness any more.  We invite people to our church.  We do not share the gospel message with them.  Most of us can not explain in one sentence what forgiveness means.   Or explain the gospel in simple “non-Christianese” terms to the unchurched.

Bishop Phillips always taught us that Jesus didn’t say bring the sinner to church, He said take the gospel to the sinner. 

Inviting people to church is not going to get them to heaven.

We didn’t catch the couple’s names that we met at Taco Bell.  However, there is a cloud of witnesses who know (Hebrews 12:1) who they were.  Although I was convicted, I was also encouraged and I was challenged.  I need all those things in my life, because I am not finished growing in faith or wisdom or understanding or knowledge….in fact, I am just getting started. 

Thank God for Divine Encounters.

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