Butterfly Sparks Designs

Friday, December 12, 2008

Simple Truth.

A former coworker and good friend called me recently. She is a precious woman whom I have known for about 3 years. I had been on my new job for about three days when she came into my office, closed my door behind her and said, “I don’t know what it is that you have, but I want it.” Keep in mind that I barely even knew her name. We had been introduced on my first day, and that was the extent of our direct communication. Her cubicle sat outside of my office, and she told me that she had been observing how I handled myself in certain stressful business situations. At first, I must admit, this conversation felt a little creepy. But she was persistent as she sat there, continually asking me where I got my “sense of peace”.

So I told her. I explained to her the role that my faith plays in my life. I didn’t yank out my King James Bible and hammer her with it. I simply shared my story with her in a very real and honest way. I didn't present myself as perfect. I shared my junk and my struggles with her, too. As we talked, I learned that she was an atheist. But I also learned that she was hungry for truth.

I have been sharing the Gospel and answering her questions for all of those 3 years. We’ve talked for hours upon hours, and I’ve given her books and she’s read all of them…twice. She is so close. I mean, she is right there…hovering just on that line. You know the one...the one that separates us from needing "one more bit of evidence" to faith. That moment when, really, it all comes down to one single choice. The choice to believe.

There have been times that I have been so frustrated that she hasn’t responded. There have been times when I wanted to give up. There have been times when I felt as though I was failing God and her. There have been times when I wished God would pass this challenging task on to someone else. There have been many times when I have wept from my core over what this precious friend is missing out on. I love her. I want this for her so much that it physically hurts.

We have experienced a lot during the past 3 years. She was a dear friend to me as I endured one of the most difficult and painful experiences of my life 2 years ago. I have held her hand and prayed over her as she has endured a failing marriage. We have also laughed until our sides hurt. We have eaten way too much cake together and consumed more lattes than I can count. Her children call me “Aunt”. And I love her deeply.

Her call this week was to request a retreat with me…a time for the two of us to talk. So, we have a sleepover planned for next week. I am considering installing outside locks on my house just to keep her in until she responds. =) OK, maybe not.

So here we go again. More questions. The same questions she has had for three years. But maybe, just maybe, this time the Truth will conquer her heart. And I will share the Gospel with her again, answer the tough questions (as best I can), love on her, tell her what God has done in my life (and remind her that she’s been on a front row seat for much of it). I will do this as many times and for as long as it takes.

Because someone did it for me.

Bridgette is my best friend from college. Bridgette lived out her love for God in a way that I had never seen before. I met her during my sophomore year at Kennesaw State University . Bridgette didn’t know me as you all do, though. Bridgette knew me as a lost young girl, seeking validation and fulfillment in my own selfish desires and addictions. During the countless hours we spent together for all-night study sessions, enduring difficult classes together, and traveling across the globe for international debate team competitions, she took every opportunity to share the love of God with me. I wasn’t interested in any part of it back then.

Oddly, despite our different journeys spiritually, we were inseparable. I had tasted “religion,” and I had been badly burned and deeply scarred, so I had no interest in anything that resembled "religion". We had a weekly tradition to meet at IHOP for sharing and prayer on Thursday evenings. Somehow, she was the one person – the only one -- in my life then who could convince me to pray or even think about God. Even with her difficult schedule and many other demands on her life, she was faithful every week to make time for me. Those few minutes talking with her each week were the only time that I thought about or talked about God at all, and even then, my heart was skeptical. But Bridgette kept it simple. She merely told me her story … simple ways that God was moving in her life.

As we said goodbye in the IHOP parking lot on December 18, 1995, she hugged me more tightly than usual and said “God is going to do great things in you, you just have to let Him,” and she quoted Jeremiah 29:11: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” I had no belief at all that God could or would do anything with my wretched life, but it was evident that God had called her to great things. On her way home that evening, a drunk driver ran a stop sign and took her life. She died shortly after arriving at the hospital. Her last words were directions to her doctor to relay a message to the man who hit her…“tell him that God loves Him, and that he is forgiven.” Her final moments in death reflected her life’s legacy…investing in others. At her funeral, her mother showed us the inscription in her Bible. She had written on the front flap…“I want my life to bring lost hearts to You.” Oh, how God answered this prayer in my life and I am certain in the lives of so many others touched by her.

You see, Bridgette would not know the unexplainable impact that her bold, unwavering and unapologetic witness would bear on my life. She would not know that years later, the seeds she planted in my heart would come to harvest by my submitting my life to Christ. She would not have known the incredible impact that embracing God’s promise to us in Jeremiah 29:11 would have on my life. She did not know then that the legacy of God living in and loving through her would live through me for His glory. She did not know any of this. God had not given her a “written guarantee” that her efforts would be successful. But she invested in me anyway. Because she believed. And God knew what would be born in me and others she touched with her life.

Her last journal entry (the day before her death) read:
“I had my ups and downs and I fell a few times, but I did not give up. Don't give up, because God's reward is worth it all. I challenge you to listen, and see what God will do. Take a risk, chance it, trust in God. You will see what God can do with a willing heart."

Sometimes we make it harder than it is. We don't need a theology degree. Let’s just tell our story. For as long as it takes.

Tell them He loves them.
Tell them He died on the cross for you and them.
Tell them your story, how he made you new.
Tell them He’s the best thing that’s happened to you.

It’s really that simple.

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