When it comes to sharing my faith... well, I don't really do it. I consider my faith a pretty private matter (which is why I'm usually a lurker and not a contributor on this blog). Evangelism isn't my gift. I don't really talk about Jesus - not due to any shame, but more because I worry that, if I bring it up, I won't be knowledgeable enough to take it anywhere - especially in my workplace, where I get the impression I'm in the minority when it comes to my beliefs.
When I was in college, I crossed paths with a girl who was seeking Jesus. She had a lot of questions. She wanted to talk, but I didn't really know what to say. She wanted to go to church, and I took her with me a couple of times, but I didn't follow up. As far as I know, the moment passed and her interest fizzled. She left school, we lost touch, and I don't know the rest of her story. That lost opportunity haunts me.
Earlier this week, I got an email from the women's ministry leader at our church here in Illinois, inviting me to a "mini-retreat." I haven't been involved in the women's ministry here at this church, but I'd heard good things about this particular program, so I considered going. On a whim, I considered asking the girl who sits next to me at work (for our purposes, we'll call her "B").
"B" is about my age. She's sweet tempered, considerate, kind, loyal - everything you'd want a friend to be. I don't know much about her life outside of work, but I haven't heard her talk about church or any other issues of faith, except to express a little curiosity about mine. I don't know if she grew up in the church. I don't know for sure whether she goes somewhere now. All I know is that, somewhere along the way, I got the impression she was a seeker - someone seeking to learn more about Jesus, whether she knows that's what she's doing or not.
I've thought about inviting "B" to things before. I belong to a small group, and I've thought about asking her to come to cookouts, a Super Bowl party, things like that. I haven't done it. My excuse: I don't want to be responsible for doing something that might "turn her off" to a life of Christian faith. Better to not be an ambassador at all than to be a BAD one. I didn't know enough. I wasn't worthy of mediating a meeting between her and Jesus.
But, on that particular day, with that particular email, I clicked "Forward." I typed one sentence: "I got this invitation and I thought of you; interested?"
There. I'd done it. I'd broken the ice. She would say no, and then I could invite her to something else later. The second time it wouldn't seem so weird. And then, maybe, five-six-seven invitations down the road, maybe she'd say yes. That's the process for something like this, right?
She said yes.
She said, "That sounds awesome. I'd love to go."
She said, "I've never done anything like this before."
I spent the next couple of days second guessing myself. What if I invited her to the wrong thing? What if this program wasn't what she was expecting? What if she goes to this, decides it's not for her, and then stops "seeking"... that is, assuming she was ever seeking in the first place?
I arrived at the church 20 minutes before the program started, just to make sure I got there before she did. She got there 10 minutes early, ready to go and not sure what to expect. I didn't know what to expect either.
The program started, and it was NOT seeker level. It was honestly kind of heavy. There was a lot of, "I feel the Holy Spirit has put this on my heart..." and "I feel God has been telling me..." There were a lot of scripture references being thrown around. I started sweating. I wondered if "B" was getting freaked out. I wondered if she was uncomfortable, if she regretted coming.
Then, toward the end of the retreat, we had a half an hour of quiet time - lights off, soft music, prayer, laying on mats - rest. As part of this quiet time, the leaders of the retreat went around the room and prayed with each woman individually. I wanted to run over to "B" and tell her, "You don't have to do this if you don't want to!!" But I didn't.
When quiet time was over, the leader of the retreat apologized profusely - our retreat was supposed to be two hours, but she'd lost track of time and gone WAY over. I knew "B" had somewhere else she was supposed to be, so again, I felt that sinking feeling that EVERYTHING had gone wrong.
"B" sat up, looked at me, and said, "Seriously! We've been here THREE hours? That went SO fast!"
She was smiling. She asked me to sign her up for the next installment in two weeks, and then she bolted out the door to go to her next appointment.
And then I laughed. I was exhausted from worrying, and the truth is:
It NEVER had anything to do with me.