Whenever I was preparing my class for a field trip, I would emphatically draw their attention to the fact that complete strangers would be taking notice of their behavior and that the field trip was a magnificent opportunity to be witnesses of God’s love to others.
I learned this lesson as a child, although I never realized it until adulthood. Across the street and down the block from my house lived three of the toughest brothers I knew. I literally stayed so clear of them that I never rode my bike on their side of the street. Years passed, and I was in my early twenties. One day, as my parents had driven to Michigan from the Chicago-area to buy fruit, one of the tough brothers roared up to that same fruit market on his motorcycle. He asked my parents how I was doing (I never thought he cared that I existed!). When my parents told him, he responded: “I always knew he’d amount to something.”
He’d been quite aware of me all along! What might he have seen in me that totally was absent from his own life? In his book Second Guessing God, Brian Jones states that in his experience “people far from God…want to know that there’s more to this world than a life that vanishes quicker than smoke from a fire.” In the midst of our pain, doubt, brokenness, and emptiness, our perseverence enables us to “always 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). What a tremendous opportunity we have to draw others to Jesus-even if we don’t say a word!