When we meet new people, sometimes they are meant to stay around for only a little while. They bring with them a life lesson, an encouragement, or even a trial, and they are on their way out again. Then there are other people we meet who become vital, consistent parts of our lives, meant to share ups and downs, and joy and sadness with us. Now, imagine with me, if there was a way to know right off the bat the exact length of time we were to know or have a new person in our life. Would that change our perspective? What would you say to someone that you knew straightaway that you would never see them again after a 5 minute conversation? What would you say if you knew it would only be 30 seconds?
Like many others have before, I had an encounter with a man who identified himself as a Jehovah’s Witness (J-Dub). Yet, this one was like any other I had had and left me reflecting on my own life as a Christian, a witness, and representative of Christ.
It began as any other confrontation with a J-Dub might. I pulled into the gas station to buy my 24 oz., $2 coffee and I saw this man walking over to a guy putting some bags in his trunk. I identified the pamphlets quickly, and took the chance to hop out of my car and sneak inside unseen.
I took my time inside. Maybe he’d be gone by the time I was through.
He wasn’t…Plan B.
I put my sunglasses on right before stepping outside, rummaged through my purse busily, with great concern on my face to prove that I was highly preoccupied at that exact moment and could not possibly spare a second.
It didn’t work.
“Buenos dias, se~orita”
He speaks Spanish. I can’t defend myself in Spanish! I go to an English speaking church! I was ready for the confrontation, but not under these hostile circumstances. (I took a mental note…start reading and learning Bible in spanish to deflect future J-Dubs…)
“Buenos dias, como esta?” I decided I’d take control just then. I’d be super polite and really eager to listen and pray and hope that ti would buy me some time and God would give me something good.
He handed me their signature magazine, with the Spanish title, and began telling me about the importance of reading the Bible. Odd. Why would he start there? He’s only got me for potentially 3 minutes, and he’s going to start there? I agreed that it is indeed very important, and he pressed on. He turned to 2 Timothy 3:16
"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness."
There it was! I unintentionally interrupted him and apparently threw him off a bit when I told him that YES I know that verse, and I even have it memorized… in English of course. I quoted it back to him, and told him that I have accepted Christ as my Savior and it’s all good here. He forced a smile and closed his Bible, nearly slamming it shut. I was interested in the conversation that would ensue. I’d ask him why he started there? Why 2 Timothy 3:16 instead of John 3:16? If he saw that I had a coffee in my hand early in the morning, how far did he really believe he’d get with me by starting at convincing me, an assumed lost sheep, that I ought to get in the Word when I haven’t even gotten in my coffee?
Unfortunately, no such conversation occurred. He said something about how great it was that a youth such as myself reads and respects God’s Word, and I determined I would just follow his lead. To my surprise, even that lead ran dry. Was he cutting our conversation short? Was I being turned away? Was I being snubbed by the J-Dub??
I realized just then, that this was an unforeseen disaster that he had not been prepared for. I wasn’t prepared for a Spanish duel, and he was not prepared for a spiritual one. He had 3 minutes, his script was interrupted, so he panicked and left. Before I could say anymore he held his hand out to shake mine, said it was nice to meet me, and jumped back in his van parked right by me, and avoided any eye contact as I pulled away.
How bizarre! Aren’t they the ones that are experts at turning 30 seconds into 3 minutes, and 3 minutes into what seems like a lifetime of trying to get away from their script? Yet, there I was, cut off. Snubbed. Still, I could not say I was relieved to have “escaped”.
This man was banking on passers-by giving him a couple minutes of their time to impart some kind of deep, life-impacting truth, and instead of taking each unique encounter as such, he stuck with a script and disregarded the mission when things got tough.
As Christians, we carry news that is life-altering, life-saving, and life-giving. We hold the truth about Jesus as our Savior. If we knew for certain that we would only know someone, perhaps someone we’ve only just met, or someone we’ve grown close to in a few short days, weeks, or months, what is the one conversation we would be certain we would have before our time was up? Can we be 100% sure that it would be about Jesus? Or would we quickly establish and hash out details of favorite sports teams? Would you talk about how Christ changed our lives? Or would we gush about the latest Madmen episode and how in the world it might come to an end?
Arise, O Souls! Let’s open our eyes! The Bible says the following about our lives’ condition:
James 4:14 "whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away."
Come now, beloved! We do not know what will become of our lives even tomorrow, but the same is true for those with whom we cross paths on a daily basis. We don’t know how long we’ll know those we meet with, but if God has seen fit to allow the meeting, let us be diligent, and express compassion on our fellow man, to have the conversation that matters most.