So I had to go to Calvary Chapel to ask for some assistance (yes, I finally humbled myself) and then I wanted to get a Bible for my neighbor Dave, because he wanted a KJV, so I stopped by Chapel Books after I filled out the paperwork. The Bookstore, however, wasn't open yet--but it was time! And I saw the bookstore manager's vehicle out front, so I knew that she was there. Oh well, I thought. More lessons in patience.
Good think I was thinking that way. A lady from the trailer park behind Calvary Chapel walked up, also intending to go to the Bookstore. I decided to be polite and make small talk. I told her my reason for being there, and she told me hers: to get crosses for her children for Easter. I asked her how old the children were, and two were the same age. Twins?
"No, my boyfriend has two, and I have two. We've been together for so long, they're all mine now!" she said.
Uh-oh. Let's see: crosses for children, which could be idolatry; fornication; not good so far! "Why do you want to get them crosses?"
"So they can have a symbol to remind them that God is always with them." Idolatry confirmed.
"Can't you just read them that verse out of the Bible?"
"Well," she just laughed it off.
I had trouble phrasing my language kindly, but I politely told her that the cross doesn't symbolize the presence of God: it symbolizes the Wrath of God--which He gladly poured out on Jesus rather than on us because of His great love for us (Isaiah 53, John 3:16). I told her, "When Jesus told people to take up their cross and follow Him--He said, 'Anyone who comes after Me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me--He was saying that we have to die. We have to give up the right to live life our way and surrender to living life His way."
This was news to her. "Obviously I missed something in Sunday school!"
I groaned within me. "Actually, they don't teach it in Sunday school." Truthfully, I don't know that I would have been prepared to confront this subject with her this way if I hadn't been at the Monday night Bible study with Scott Rodriguez, during which we covered this very concept in our study of Matthew 26:1-5. It is something I know in my head, but rarely have I even approached it this way.
I told her about Luke 14, where Jesus told us to count the cost, and about John 16, where Jesus said that we would be hated by everyone, and about the many times that Jesus told us to take up a cross, meaning that we have to die to self and our own desires in order to follow Jesus, and she was stunned and convicted. When I said, "This is real Christianity," she said,
"Then I guess I'm not a real Christian!" and she wasn't being flippant at all. "I guess I'll be getting them 'praying hands' instead of crosses," she said. I don't know what she did, but I did tell the bookstore manager about her. Jan is always ready to minister to someone, so she was in good hands. I also thanked Jan for being late to open the bookstore: if she hadn't been, then I would never have gotten to speak with Ronnie to clarify things for her. Please pray that she receives Christ.
Right after she acknowledged that she's not a real Christian, she started trying to declare her own righteousness: "Well, I don't lie or steal or murder--"
"But have you ever done those things?"
"Well, I did when I was a little girl."
"Well, those things are still on your record. And you've already admitted to me that you are committing fornication-" she nodded, embarrassed, but I had already mentioned the word twice when talking about things that Jesus wants to remove from our lives-" and that's a big 'no-no' with God. So you're in big trouble."
"I guess so." I think she was relieved when the FedEx truck pulled up, but the conviction has only just begun. Her conscience was hard at work, and you could see it on her face. Please pray that she makes the right decision. Thanks for your prayers.
P.S. I may be able to borrow a car to drive to Ft Lauderdale/Coral Springs instead of needing to fly. This will save money all around. One of my friends is working on a place for me to stay instead of the hotel with everyone else. And the church is giving me about $300 to cover most of my rent. I may cancel the cookout for the trailer park, simply because nothing has yet come together for it, but please keep it in prayer, because the week is not over yet. And the appointment yesterday went very well, and I have a promising appointment scheduled for 1:30 PM today, and I can also drop by another place right after that, where the owner sounds very interested.
Funny, when talking to one of my friends on the phone yesterday, he mentioned how he had tried so hard to get his "ducks-in-a-row" but failed and then left everything in God's hands, and God did it all for him--not that he was being lazy, but that he was no longer demanding instant results and only pursuing things that he thought would work right away. It was a good lesson for me, and I think that has been the lesson all along. And patience. I know why I prayed for patience seven years ago, but I guess I forgot to ask how long the curriculum would be. =P