Snowflakes in the air reminded me I needed winter tires for our car. After checking prices and availability I settled on a local vendor and arranged a time to have the new tires installed.
Arriving at the tire shop on the day of my appointment, I handed the keys to a service representative and then proceeded to the customer-waiting lounge. The room was surprisingly vacant; only one other customer was there, a well-dressed, middle-aged gentleman who seemed deep in his own thoughts. He paid me no mind as I settled into a chair a few seats away. But as I reached into my business satchel for my reading glasses, he suddenly looked in my direction. Our eyes met.
I responded in the way I often do when encountering strangers in public, “So, how’s it going, are you going to survive your day?”
Imagine my surprise when the gentleman shook his head and responded, “I don’t know. I just came from the doctor’s office. My son, a State College basketball player, blew out his knee in a game last night. It looks like he’ll never play again. I came here to get tires because I needed them, but to be honest, it’s an excuse to be alone.”
He paused, swallowed hard, and then with tears accumulating in his eyes, confessed, “I feel so helpless!”
Where I live in North America, it is the cultural norm to guard one’s privacy. With the exception of sporting-team loyalties, which are vigorously broadcasted, one’s emotions, religious values and struggles in life are personal, private matters, taboo subjects off limits to casual conversation, especially with strangers. This cultural reality makes sharing the gospel with others a challenge.
But it seems the Lord often uses crises to open what are otherwise tightly drawn privacy curtains in people’s lives. A crisis can provide access and opportunity for the Bible’s message of grace and hope.
Crises are variegated; they come in many forms—failed health, loss of employment, accidents, broken relationships, failed businesses and disappointments of every description. We just never know when our paths will cross those whose lives are being impacted by calamity. This is why we as ambassadors of the Lord always need to be,
“…prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have…” 1 Peter 3:15
Yes, opportunities may only be a crisis away. My fellow customer at the tire shop was in crisis. Long after our tires were installed, we two strangers sat engaged in a deeply personal conversation about life and about hope in a world gone horribly wrong. And as we talked, a GoodSeed book, By This Name, lay close at hand in my business satchel awaiting its ministry of hope, not just to help someone survive their day, but to help a soul in crisis clearly understand “the reason for the hope” that is found in Jesus Christ.
Your family member or friend may not be interested in spiritual things right now. But this does not mean they won’t be looking for answers and for hope when a crisis hits. Will that person turn to you for answers; will it be your phone that rings in the middle of the night?
Even more important, are you prepared to explain the reason for the hope you have in Jesus Christ?
Photo credit: “The cruel waiting room” by Jeff Kramer is licensed under CC BY 2.0
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