“Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary,
—St. Francis of Assisi, paraphrased
Okay, is it just me, or is anybody else freaked out that it’s December 2nd already?? I mean come on, it seems like just yesterday I took the Christmas stuff down in February (okay, okay, not one single word, please—January is my key month for cranking on the book, so I ignore everything else, okay? It’s a rule in our household, seriously, like gravity).
Anyway, this year I’ve cut WAY back on decorations and shopping because I’m getting close to the home stretch of book one of The Cousins McClare and am hoping to wrap it up by end of December (yeah, I have my pajamas on because I’m definitely dreaming), but it will probably be more like end of January instead. Consequently, I only put up one tree instead of my customary two and I paid my daughter’s girlfriend to shop for my daughter because she is very picky and hates whatever I buy. And the days of baking 60 dozen cookies (eight different kind that were literally works of art) for 30 cookie/rum cake plates for the neighbors (pink cellophane wrapped with sparkly bows and real holly from my bush) are long, LONG gone, thank you, God!!
So between less to do for Christmas and turning in the final FINAL draft of Steven’s story, A Love Surrendered THIS WEEK, I am breathing a lot easier and actually ready to enjoy the holidays, which is good because I’d rather not be a CDQ on espresso roaming the malls, if you know what I mean. Oh, no, I’d much rather reflect what the season is truly all about—celebrating a Savior who has dramatically changed my life for the better in every possible way and emulating Him so He can do the same for others.
What really brought this home to me this week was one night when my daughter came in and plops down on the couch across from the lounger where I write in my hearth room. “Want to hear a great story that happened to me today?” she asks with a spark of excitement in her eyes. “Sure, I say,” and I close my laptop as I always try to do when I know she wants to talk. She proceeds to tell me how she was studying in Panera when this guy sits at the table next to her with a woman who was apparently counseling him, and although my daughter had her i-Pod in, she could still hear the conversation. This young man was distraught and broken, recovering from drugs and a bad relationship with a girlfriend who’d introduced him to Buddhism.
Now let me interject right here that my daughter is a volunteer facilitator at our church for a Bible study that attracts people from every religion including Buddhists and Atheists. Consequently, she has had to learn how to discuss every religion out there and show why Christianity makes the most sense. This exposure to people hungry for the truth has literally invigorated her own faith, prompting her to pray for God to help her witness more, something she has never been comfortable doing. Uh … till Panera.
Suddenly out of the blue, she feels “compelled” to talk to this guy, which she actually did—a miracle in itself for my somewhat shy daughter—and they ended up talking for over two hours without any “official” witnessing. She simply talked to him, listened, asked questions and carefully used her learned knowledge about Buddhism to lead him to the truth of Jesus Christ. The amazing thing is that by the end of the conversation, not only did she discover she and this guy knew a number of friends in common who’d actually witnessed to him in the past, but she realized he was the same person her friends had witnessed to six months prior while coming out of an I-Hop. “He’s going to come to our church, Mom,” she said with tears in her eyes, and the fact that God had used her as one of the final steps in introducing a broken man to Christ had us both bawling like babies.
Now, let me just go on record to say I’m one of those Christians who has never been fond of the word “witnessing,” I guess because as a young agnostic myself at the age 23, I would have spit in the eye of anybody who tried it with me. Until, that is, my friend Joy “witnessed” to me at work one life-altering day. BUT … not with words, mind you, but with the peace and joy she radiated every single moment. Just like Amy witnessed to that broken guy with kindness and concern. It’s classic Francis of Assisi in action: “Preaching the Gospel at all times and when necessary, use words.”
I have to admit, my daughter’s excitement this week stirred my faith as well … to do more this Christmas season and beyond to show people just how much Jesus Christ can change a person—a life—for the better. Yes, I suppose I have my own way of “witnessing” with writing books that I hope and pray will show people it IS possible to have a personal, intimate relationship with an absolutely AMAZING God that can truly be “touch-and-feel” (i.e. we touch His heart through obedience, He feels joyous and so do we). But … suddenly, through my daughter’s tears, I felt compelled to do more. To “witness” with a smile in my eyes, a nod of my head, a prayer on my lips for every person I pass. It’s holding a door open for someone and not getting mad when there are no “thank yous,” but praying for them instead. Or simple things like letting someone else go before you or even telling a complete stranger that you like their purse. “Witnessing” at all times … with our actions of love … not words.
Years ago as a brand-new Christian, God said to me in a very supernatural way, “Julie, unless you love others, you cannot call yourself Mine.” Why? Because God IS “Love” incarnate, and if we claim to belong to Him, we must “love” (i.e. witness) at all times, but never more so than during the season of Christmas when the world’s eyes are not only fixed on Jesus … but on the “Jesus” they see in each of us.
And so, today on this 2nd day of December, I throw out a challenge to each of us. To make this holiday season what it was meant to me—a celebration and an extension of God’s love to a world that so desperately needs it … just like we did … and do. I guarantee you, even one tiny incident of “witnessing” will not only put a smile on your face and that of the person to whom you witness … but on the very face of God Himself. And I don’t know about you, but that sure says “Merry Christmas” to me.
GIVEAWAYS THIS WEEK—GREAT FOR CHRISTMAS GIFTS!!!
DECEMBER 2-5, 2011
WANNA SEE THE BEST AND MOST UNIQUE PRESENT MY HUBBY EVER GAVE ME??? Then join me at Southern Sassy Things blog for a HUGE Birthday Bash featuring TONS of giveaways including books by Vickie McDonough, Ginger Garrett and Lori Copeland AND a chance to win a signed copy of any of my books including my new release, A Heart Revealed OR a writer’s critique. As an extra writer’s bonus, you will also receive the official detailed handout from the ACFW Workshop Ruth Axtell Morren and I taught entitled “A Kiss is NOT Just a Kiss.” Here’s the link, and I hope to see you there:
DECEMBER 5-11, 2011
Join me at Amanda Barratt’s blog for a interview giveaway to win a signed copy of one of my books including my new release, A Heart Revealed at:
DECEMBER 8-25, 2011
Join me at Project Journal blog for a interview giveaway to win a signed copy of one of my books including my new release, A Heart Revealed at:
Happy Weekend, Happy Shopping and Happy “Witnessing”!!