You might be thinking....big deal. You might be thinking.....oh great! Or you might be thinking...don't you live in the Bible Belt; everyone goes to church.
This was exciting for us.
Of course we have invited people to church before, and so have you. But, I am going to go on out and say, that I bet you asked someone that was looking for a church, and better yet, a Christian.
How about the ones that aren't looking??
What about them?
This past Sunday, we ended a 5 part series on Church. The sermon two weeks ago, challenged Tim and I both; and this past Sunday I found my head starting to bob and hear the amens release from my lips. It was oh so true. What a fantastic series! Go online and listen to them ALL!
When Andy preached on Boldness a few Sunday's ago, they handed Black Boldness Bracelets out at the doors; I immediately couldn't get one certain event out of my mind a whole 48 hours after.
Sadly, as you read above, I couldn't get ONE certain event out of my mind. It was an event that changed my life. It was an event that my heart was beating so completely hard, that I could feel it breaking through my chest, and when it couldn't get out, felt like it starting to coming out of my throat.
Have you ever had one of those? It was awful, it kept getting worse......... until I said something.
Let me start from the beginning.....
About two years ago, one rainy day, I had two people in the store. One customer I knew, the other I didn't. I carried on a conversation in the store with them both, nothing seemed out of the ordinary, until they both left literally a minute apart.
I immediately saw some items missing. Within 5 mins, I had counted and done the inventory of almost $900.00 worth stolen. I immediately notified the police, several stores in town and gave a complete detailed description of the person, including her make and model of her vehicle ( I was raised with 4 brothers, I can recognize a make and model from a mile away, in the dark ;) ) to my employees, and that was that.
Six months later, I had just dropped my girls off at Westgate for swim lessons. My employee calls me, I can hear it in her voice; panic, nerves, uncertainty, as she tries to explain in code that she believes SHE is there. I race to my car, and for you locals you know my shop is only 1 min away. As I approach the end of the Rec. Center parking lot placed on a hill, I can clearly see my store front, and parked right in front is her car. As I wait at the stop light, I try to call Tim. Looking back, probably the only time I am thankful for not reaching him. Who else do you turn to when you can't reach your hubby......GOD! (I know, a little backwards on that one!). I used my last 30 seconds to plead with God for direction, guidance and courage. I didn't even know what I was going to say, I mean, who comes back to steal that much in that short of time??
This is really when I start to feel sick. As I walk in, there is another customer in the store, my employee rushes to the counter to write something down, flushed, I can see it in her face. I look at the scribble to make out an exact description on something that was hanging up just minutes prior and now, no signs of it.
I make my way to the woman, we make small talk. She complements me on the store. Then she starts to make way as if she is leaving. She then states that she really wishes I had more of a certain size and gender of clothing. I walk her to the door with small talk, although it all seems like a fog, all I can really hear is my pulse.
When exiting the building, I look at her and as badly as I wanted to say, "forget this item! It's just one item! She can have it! She'll never come back! ", instead I say ,"Ma'am?". And she replies "yes". And the next was something I can't even explain with these words.
I told her that I needed to look in her bag. "My bag,"she says. "Why?" "Ma'am, I need to look in your bag, because I am missing (I give detail of item) and I believe you have it."
She grabs her bag in disgust for me, and starts to hand it over, but I felt pressed to say, "No, then I need to check your stroller."
"My stroller?? No, you are not going to go through my stroller!"
I look her in the eyes and tell her that I remember her. That I know she stole almost $900 dollars worth of items just 6 mos before. I tell her that she is beautiful, well off and so blessed to have what she has. But that I understand why she is doing this. I share with her that there was a time in my life I had to have "things" to fill a void that was longing in my heart. I had that same empty void and it was so miserable. It was there until Jesus filled it. I told her I would love to get her help. I gave her info on a clinic in town and I urged her to go. I told her she had children that didn't need to see and have their mommy do this. That there is freedom from this. Their is much freedom I explained.
At this point she bursts into tears, and I asked her if we can just please settle this matter right here.
She lifts up the blanket over her child's lap, the blanket covering up the exact item we were missing. She hands it to me and profusely apologizes and states she will never bother me again.
As she packs up as quickly as she can, I continue to encourage her to seek help.
Off she goes.
I can't tell you the peace that was over me. I knew 100% that that was what I was supposed to do. I look back and think of a million smart a#$ things I could've said to her. I drove into my parking lot minutes before feeling the victim, but now stood watching the real one drive away.
I know that many wonder why I didn't call the police, why I allowed a thief to go steal some more. I can only tell you, that I said what I felt to do, and no more.
I never saw her again. But like I said, this past Sunday and Monday, all I could think about was her. When Andy preached on boldness, all I could think about was pleading to God for courage and direction, just minutes before facing this women.
Tim was heading out of town that week and I just happened to have his car for the day. Elizabeth and I decided we would surprise him with getting his car cleaned before his trip.
When approaching the machine to pay for my services, I looked over near the vacuums, and there she was. My heart leaped! I couldn't believe it. I am sure that Elizabeth was talking a few hundred miles a minute about what was about to occur with all the soap and brushes, but all I could do was converse with God.
Oh God, what does this mean?? Oh, I can't believe I am about to see her. Years have gone by, but surely, you have placed her on my heart these two days for this meeting. Surely you want me to speak to her.
I look over and see that there are empty spaces beside her.....perfect! I'll park beside her and go from there, I thought.
I purchased the quickest wash, just to get out asap. The whole time in the wash I was thanking the Lord. Thanking him for setting us up again. Oh, I hope great things for her! Oh, how I hope she has changed and come to know Jesus! Oh, I can't wait to find out!!!
When exiting the wash, I pull around and notice she was gone. Not even pulling out gone, she was G.O.N.E!
My heart sank. Really Lord? Really????? I vacuum, and continually questioned why in the WORLD He would have placed her so heavily on my heart, let me see her, and NOT let me talk to her when I was willing to. I wanted to talk to her. Why?????
And then I look in the side pocket of Tim's door and the Black Bracelet that reads Be Bold is in there. And then it hits me.
As I put it on, I realize that just maybe, she wasn't ready to see me. Maybe she wasn't ready to hear what I had to say. Just maybe it wasn't the right time. And then, I sat in the car and it was if the Lord said, now be bold and pray for her.
So with boldness, I prayed. Elizabeth and I sat in a car wash parking lot and prayed. Prayed for a woman I still don't even know her name. And I started to realize that there had to be prayer with boldness. I had always not been very fond of prayers that said "Lord, please give us opportunity...", for I have felt that there is always opportunity. But I truly now believe that the Lord wants us to pray for boldness, wants us to ask for courage, guidance, love, mercy and even grace, before and during those opportunities.
I have great hopes of seeing this woman again. I realize, that I just might not have prayed boldly that day for her had I actually spoken with her. I realize that God wants to see her come to know Him and that He wants to use us to pray and be bold in sharing the freedom that is found in filling such a miserable void in our life.
If all of us were so bold, we just might see God work and the power of His Spirit move in ways we couldn't imagine.
Tim asked someone to Church this week.............he said yes......that's exciting.
To God be the Glory.
"Not to us, O LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness." Psalms 115:1