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Posts Tagged ‘Colossians 4:6’

I wonder if you have ever run into someone you know in a most unexpected place. When I was a teacher, I well remember encountering one of my more troublesome students in the middle of my weekly supermarket shop. ‘Mum, there’s my teacher!’ this girl blurted out in a shocked voice. I suspect she wanted to see me about as much as I wanted to see her that day!

On another occasion, however, I came across a pastor friend in a bookstore. While we chatted, several folk from her church came by, which perhaps could have disconcerted her. Instead, she seemed to enjoy the moment. ‘It’s like I’ve died and gone to heaven!’ she exclaimed, beaming at everyone.

Recently, I headed to a nearby medical facility for an injection into a troublesome shoulder. I was certainly not expecting to see anyone I knew there—or anyone who knew me. All I was thinking about was whether my scheduled injection would help alleviate the pain I was experiencing. Eventually, a young woman called my name and ushered me into a small room. We chatted together as she prepared the injection for the doctor to give. A few moments later, it was all over, and the doctor left. But then the young woman suddenly said, ‘You must be the author, are you?’

I was stunned.

‘Um … yes, I am, but … how did you know?’ I eventually managed to ask.

‘Oh, I’ve read some of your books!’ she told me then. ‘I borrowed them from my mother.’

So that was it! She must have recognised my name from the patient list—mystery solved. But I was still curious.

‘What would your mother’s name be? Perhaps I know her.’

Sure enough, I did, from two or three occasions in the past.

‘Well, it just shows we have to behave wherever we go, don’t we?’ I joked as I left. ‘You never know who you’ll meet!’

Beneath my joking, however, I was also trying to remember what sort of comments I had made to her. I was so focussed on myself that I had not put much thought at all into anything I said. Had I been polite and considerate towards her? Had I listened well? Had I honoured God throughout our conversation?

It was too late now anyway. The exchange was over.

I came away from that experience realising again that, wherever I go and whether I feel like it or not, I am God’s ambassador (2 Corinthians 5:20). I never know whom I will meet. I never know who will recognise my name, even though I am not a famous author—yet! And I never know who will be listening or watching. But I’m so thankful God does. And I’m so thankful too that God’s Spirit is with me and in me, ready to give me those words of grace to share with others and the wisdom to act in a godly way. But I need to listen, to keep any unwise words in check and then to say those things that will bless and build others up.

May I remember to do that next time, because you never know …

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:6

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Jo 23It is so true that, just when we might least expect it, an opportunity can present itself to say a gentle word in season that someone needs to hear.

A few weeks ago, my husband was waiting for our order at a local pizza shop on a Friday night. He noticed a man nearby sitting forward with his head in his hands.

‘Glad the week’s over, are you?’ my husband commented.

They went on to exchange a few pleasantries.

‘Tell me, how you cope with stress in your life?’ the man then asked, out of the blue.

‘Well, it helps me to know I’m doing what God wants me to do,’ my husband replied.

They chatted on for a while. It turned out the man was from Rumania and works in IT. And soon he discovered my husband is a retired minister.

‘My uncle was a sort of minister in a Pentecostal church back in Rumania—I used to go to church then,’ he admitted. ‘Tell me … how do you see the Holy Spirit manifesting himself today?’

Not quite the sort of question one expects to be asked in a pizza shop! Nevertheless, my husband happily responded. Then our pizza was ready and the man thanked him sincerely for their conversation. Only God knows what might ensue in his life as a result.

But this past week, it was my turn. As I waited to have an x-ray at the hospital, I glanced at the other people around me and decided to pray for them. I particularly noticed an elderly couple sitting nearby who seemed quite nervous. They got up several times, once returning with a form to fill out, which they seemed to have trouble doing. The wife tried to help her husband, speaking to him in a language I did not understand and several times reaching in her handbag to find this or that document. Eventually his name was called and off he went. I looked across at his wife and smiled. She smiled in return and then began talking.

‘I’m so worried!’ she told me, a perfect stranger, as she started to cry. ‘My husband … he not well. He got cancer.’

I reached over and held her hand, then moved to sit beside her. Out came her story of migrating to Australia from Italy in the fifties, starting work at fourteen, missing her homeland, marrying a man from her own village, having children. I listened—and my heart went out to her. Then my name was called and I had to leave her.

When my x-ray was over, however, I saw she was still waiting and went over to her.

‘I’m going to be praying for you,’ I told her. ‘I believe in God—God will look after you.’

‘I believe in God too,’ she whispered, as she clung to my hand and the tears began falling again. ‘Thank you so very much!’

In Col 4:6, Paul writes:

Let you conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

What a privilege to be able to take part in these two entirely unexpected conversations! I hope they were grace-filled enough. I hope these two needy ones sensed God’s love reaching out to them, bringing refreshment and comfort. That’s what it’s all about, don’t you think?

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Have you ever looked forward to having some ‘down time’ in a coffee shop by yourself, perhaps reading a favourite book or just chilling out? On a recent visit to a coffee shop, I saw someone doing exactly that—or trying to. The only trouble was he was sitting near a table where two women were talking animatedly. And I was one of those two women!

It happened like this. My friend and I had not seen each other for some time and were looking forward to catching up. She arrived at the coffee shop first and found a table in as private a spot as possible. As I joined her, I noticed a girl sitting in a nearby lounge and hoped our talking would not annoy her. I then bought our coffee and soon became immersed in the conversation with my friend.

We talked … and talked … and talked! At one stage, I remember noticing the girl near us leave and another person take her place—this time a youngish man. Again, I hoped we would not disturb him, but he soon seemed happily immersed in reading a book and drinking his coffee. So we continued talking … on and on and on … for over two hours all up!

After some time, the man stood up to leave. But as he did, he turned to us and smiled. I apologised in case we had been disturbing him but he shook his head.

‘No, no—I should be the one apologising!’ he quickly told us. ‘I probably shouldn’t have been eavesdropping. I could easily have just sat and read, but I was interested in what you were saying!’

At that point, my mind did a huge back flip. What sorts of things had we talked about? I was sure we hadn’t put anyone else down or gossiped or anything. But our conversation had ranged over a variety of subjects—from books we had read to thoughts about living the Christian life and being part of a church and many other similar topics. And I had shared quite a bit about my writing journey and the current opportunities I had to speak at different places. What could this man have possibly made of it all?

‘I just want to encourage you to keep doing what you’re doing and keep going—that’s wonderful!’ he went on then. ‘In fact, there’s a really good women’s conference starting soon near here. I’m even prepared to pay or you to go! I’ll give you my email address so you can contact me.’

We sat stunned. He duly wrote down his contact details and as he did, we checked if he meant the ‘Colour’ conference conducted by Hillsong, which he did. He then left, still showing his appreciation for what he had overheard.

I was impressed. What a gracious eavesdropper! But this event also made me think. What if our conversation hadn’t been honouring to God and others? What a disservice we would have done to the kingdom! And what if this man hadn’t bothered to take a risk and speak to us? I would have missed out on so much encouragement. How right Paul is when he says in Colossians 4:6:

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

So … when you next go out for coffee with someone …

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