Sometimes your eyes lock onto theirs, and you just know. This is a moment I could take this conversation and turn it to Jesus.
They’ve asked a question that I could answer with something simple, or I could use it as an opportunity to crack open a spiritual can. I could tell them how God’s peace got me through that hard thing instead of just saying, “Yes, it was a hard time in my life.” I could tell them God brought me to this job on purpose instead of just saying, “Yes, I’ve always loved to write.” I could do that because their eternity depends on them hearing the gospel at some point, some day. I could do it because I care deeply about their eternity.
But I pause. I take a deep breath. And a thousand things flash through my mind.
And I’m ashamed to tell you that, as much as I pray for opportunities, as much as I love to talk to people, as much as I desperately yearn for people to come to know the truth of Christ, there are moments where, yes. The finger is on the trigger, the rubber meets the road . . . and yet I’m still afraid. There are several reasons for this fear.
1. I’m afraid I’ll push them away from me.
There are really two fears buried in this fear. One is selfish on its face—I’m afraid I’m going to push the person away from me, and I don’t want to lose or strain the relationship. It might be someone I’m going to have to work beside every day, or a friend I really love, and the people-pleaser in me balks. What if I lose them? What if I make things awkward?
Then I remind myself that real love is to care about things that are so much bigger than that—like their eternity.
That’s when the second fear kicks in—the fear that it’s not time yet and if I push too much now, then I’ll destroy opportunities that might come later down the road when the person is more ready or when the time is right. I’m afraid that maybe I haven’t built enough cred with them yet to have this conversation. Maybe I’ll burn a bridge by being too serious too soon. And maybe I’ll risk the chance to have a better conversation later. That leads right to the next fear . . .
2. I’m afraid I’ll push them away from Christ.
Even if the time is right, I’m afraid I’ll push them away from Christ. What if I haven’t been my best self today and they will hear the gospel I’m sharing with them through that lens? What if I say it badly and I turn them off, not just to this conversation but to Jesus altogether? And what if it’s a decent conversation, but when they ask the questions, I don’t have the right knowledge to answer them? These things all haunt me in the moments that count, but the third one might be the one that does the most damage.
3. I’m afraid to open up my life in my tired moments.
I’ll be real: sometimes I plop down in that plane seat, a place that seems made for deep conversations, and all I hope is that the person next to me will be a sleeper not a talker. I will have been praying for God to open doors for gospel conversations, but when that early morning flight comes and I’ve had three hours of sleep, I’ll hope that’s not the moment God opens the door. I hate it. But it’s real.
So what do I do? What do I do in those moments where my brain’s too tired to know the right things to say, or when I worry about what the results will be and if they’ll cut me off or write Christ off? Trust Jesus.
From the very beginning, Jesus entrusted his message to a group of flawed people, people who would at points in their life deny him, doubt him, and follow selfish ambition. I fit right in. So in those moments where I’m staring that friend in the eye, I have to rest in the fact that I’m pressing into Christ and trusting him to do what he does best—supernatural miracles. It’s the Holy Spirit at work in their heart, not me. And when it comes down to it, an awkward relationship is better than standing by as they head toward eternal suffering.
And I pray again: God, please make the weight of that reality large in my heart. And help me to rest in your sovereignty.
When I’m sleepy, he’s at work in my weakness. When I’m nervous, he’s at work in my weakness. But he also wants me to prepare, to “always being prepared to make a defense” for the hope to which I was called. Reading the Word and reading up on material that helps me understand and defend my faith is worth my time. It’s worth sacrificing Netflix so that when those conversations come, I’m ready. Not so I can fight, but so I can just talk about things when eternity is in the balance.
My whole life is about that plane seat. That shouldn’t terrify me. It should simply make me lean more on Christ . . . and then sit back, buckle up, and watch what He’s going to do.