I should have seen this coming. These types of scenarios lend themselves to deep conversations. Mostly empty and picked-over plates and bowls from lunch are strewn about our dining room table. The kids have long left, and are running around in the back patio of our home in Barranquilla. My friend was tearing up telling me about meeting a half-brother she didn't even know existed last year. My heart ached for her. What would it be like to suddenly find out your father had a whole mystery family apart from yours? I sat with her listening, giving her my full attention and empathy.
After a few moments of collecting herself, she asks me, seemingly out of the blue: I know you and your husband are missionaries. What do you believe?
My heart dropped to the pit of my stomach. What should have been a Spirit-led declaration of love for my Lord and Savior, was a 5-minute dry explanation of faith. I fumbled over my words, feeling the heat rising in my cheeks. A mixture of relief and shame washed over me as the kids came into the dining room and asked if they could play out front on our street.
We had been at the park earlier with several families for a Teatro (theater) class. After the class, my girls asked if we could invite them over for lunch. Of course. I knew Joel had a lunch meeting planned, and we are always looking to invite people to share a meal and share life with us.
However, I was not ready (in more ways than one) for this scenario. Physically and emotionally present with my friend, but not spiritually engaged. Looking back now, I can identify the pitfalls leading up to this moment. While I have known Carla and her son for over a year, it has only been recently that we have connected and shared on a more personal level. Most of our conversations were about learning/education, and living cross-culturally as she had taken her son traveling and road-schooling in Europe a few years back.
I had relaxed to the point of not inviting Jesus into our time together. Actually, I had relaxed further back than that... I had prayed for Carla and her son sporadically since knowing them, but I had not interceded for them. A sporadic prayer here and there had not connected me to the point of eager expectation for the Holy Spirit to work in their lives.
That evening as Joel and I sat to talk as we often do, I told him about it. More so, I confessed my frustration and disappointment in myself. We talked about how evangelism is not at all what we perceived it to do be and experienced on short-term mission trips. While I understand the importance of training in evangelism, what good is it without God's presence?
The following morning I laid all my vulnerabilities, weaknesses, and the shame I felt as a missionary at Jesus' feet during my quiet time. I confessed my lack. I acknowledged my spiritual laziness. As I sat there, the Lord lovingly instructed me once again on my posture.
On my knees, I need to humbly accept that my words, my empathy, and my friendship with someone are not the secret sauce. How many times do I need to learn this lesson in faith? Every day. I must confess it constantly. It is so easy to take that burden on and make it about me. The prayers of my heart should always be that the eyes of their heart would be opened to Truth. That the Lord would become real and present in their lives. I can pray that the Lord would anoint my mouth, my actions, my life; but surrendered to God's perfect purpose and plan.
Trust the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your path. Proverbs 3: 4-5
From our posture of kneeling in prayer, we spiritually and physically stand up to move into our day. In this cautionary tale, I was sitting down. The battles we are facing will not always look like a battleground that will move us to our feet. I am to be speaking to God constantly and inviting Him to do what He does. While I ask for His help and leading I am standing and planting my feet firmly on the Rock of salvation.
I think what bothered me the most of my time with Carla, was that the love that I have for Jesus didn't splash over the rim of my cup. To be honest, my cup wasn't full. It may have been full that morning alone with my Savior but over the next few hours, my thoughts had scattered. Walking on the path the Lord has given me for the day, I talk with Him and am not self-conscious about what being in love with Him looks like. It is natural. It spills out in every way as I interact with my kids, my friends, the strangers.
Kneel. Stand. Walk.
Lord... may the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14