I’m standing behind a bar with my baby on my hip. A yellow neon beer sign buzzes behind me.
“What college are you going to?” I ask.
“What’s your major?”
“What are you most looking forward to about the college experience?”
7 high school grads occupy the stools across the granite from me.
They twirl their stools and their attention toward the conversation, laughing with each other, waiting for his or her turn to share.
This last grad shares, and immediately, I hear God. In a strong but calm voice, “Pray for them.”
I had zero doubt. God was speaking.
Can you guess what happened next?
Nothing. The extrovert in me went mute.
Instantly, my mouth felt like a desert. Fear vibrated in my gut. In my heart, without hesitation, I said, “No, they will think Im crazy. “
Now, on the other side of the bar, I’m hunched over buckling my 4 year old’s sandal. I look up toward a graduate and mumble, “Ill be praying for you and your friends”. Her brows squeeze together briefly in a questioning glance.
Was that the you’re-a-weirdo-look I was so afraid of?
I scramble my kids together and go home.
I toss the kids inside and run upstairs hurling myself on the floor. I want to beat myself up for missing it. But I know better. Jesus took that beating for me way back when. A good old dose of self-flagellation doesn’t fix anything.
Crap. What’s the real issue here?
Sometimes I am unsure if the voice I am hearing is God’s. This was not one of those times. This experience bubbled my cowardice to the surface and it was time to skim it off.
Fear of man has to go.
The Great Commission or the Scary Commission
When we become Christians we have new instincts to love people. The great commission gets cut and pasted into our DNA-right next to the mystery gene- free will.
Like Jesus, we are moved with compassion and want to do something. (Matthew 9:36-37) We pray and ask God to send us, use our gifts. His response is, “Of course! Lets get out there and love on some people.” (Matthew 10:1)
Every day we are given a choice- risk and love or hide and make excuses.
We go to work and hear coworkers talk about their cheating partner. We think, man, they need God’s love. But she is so sarcastic, she would never listen to me. I’ll just be kind to her instead.
We hear about the refugee crisis and think, whoa, that’s a huge problem. I couldn’t possibly make a difference. I’ll just pray.
We find ourselves at a party with a group of high school grads who are about to leave home as adults for the first time. We could encourage them with a prayer, but they might think we are crazy. We just pray quietly instead.
Love Over Fear
I know you want to love. I want to love others too. I pray about it and wait for opportunities. But opportunity comes and I choke. My will screams, please don’t make me get out of my comfy boat and walk on the scary choppy water. Can’t I pray from here?
What is He asking you? He wants to take you to another level. He wants to speak into other people’s lives, and He wants to do it through you.
Love takes risks. If we want to change the world, we have to risk our silky reputation.
The reality is, we will take a few slugs to our ego, or worse. In fact, it’s a promise. (Matthew 10:17-18)
But thats when we start looking more like Jesus. Back in the day, when he was our age, he was accused of being crazy too. Can we accept that? Looking crazy? (Matthew 10:24-25)
The Fear of the Lord
I’m not sure I fully understand the fear of the Lord. But the fear of man might be the opposite. I was afraid of what those new grads thought about me that day. But what was God thinking? I hadn’t considered. I was too focused on their reaction.
Don’t be bluffed into silence by the threats of bullies.There is nothing they can do to your soul, your core being. Save your fear for God, who holds your entire life -body and soul- in his hands. (Matthew 10:28)
Don’t Fear Their Reactions
Jeremiah was called from birth to be a voice to the nations. (Jeremiah 1:5) The day came for God to commission him. And Jeremiah started making excuses: I’m too young. I can’t speak.
God replied, “Go, I will give you the words to say. Don’t be afraid of their faces. For I am with you to deliver you.” (Jeremiah 1:7-8)
Remember When you get it Right
I don’t always blow it.
I worked for a time with a small group of women. They were all married or recently divorced. It was a complex situation. One nurse was living with the ex of another nurse. One nurse was cheating with one of the physicians, etc. Drama.
We worked in close quarters and the contents of our lives spilled out. I talked about Jesus a lot, even though I knew one colleague cut me up as soon as I was out of earshot. Jesus’s name came up in conversation even though the day shift doc called me names.
I was finishing up my last day on the job when the “mean girl” colleague approached me. When no one else was looking she hugged me and thanked me for being brave enough to talk about God. She recently read a Joel Osteen book and loved it. God was coming at her from a few angles. I got to be part of it.
I left the unit with my arm tucked around God’s back and His wrapped around mine.
We left His love behind.
When we blow it, God will give us more chances to love people. He doesn’t hold grudges.
Whose life can we speak into this week? Has God been pointing anyone out to you?
With knees wobbling, step out onto the choppy waters. With the winds of accusation whirling around your mind, remember:
God is with you.
Don’t be afraid.
He will give you the words to say.
Don’t worry about the look on their faces.