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She said I have chutzpah...
So I slapped her. Simply, I had looked up the definition of the Yiddish word, chutzpah--shameless audacity, impudence -and thanks just the same, but that is not something I am interested in having. 'But wait,' she stammered . . . 'you do. You have a way of bringing up faith that others do not.' Okay, I guess that is okay, and I did not really slap her, but the preceding definition certainly was a slap in the face to me.
Bringing up faith in matters of discussion may take a little courage and will likely require some creativity, but oh, oh, it is the greatest adventure.
There was the time I jumped in a taxicab on a snowy January morning in 2015 in downtown Chicago. Traveling just a short distance to Northwestern University's city campus, I knew time was short. After inquiring about my driver's welfare, I asked, 'So would you be a man of faith?' He kinda cleared his throat and said, 'Uh yes, I am,' with a thick Middle Eastern intonation. 'What faith would that be?' I inquired a bit more. I watched his right arm go up, grab his rearview mirror and turn it so he could see me. After determining I was probably no threat to him, he said, 'I am Muslim.' After asking him a few questions, he opened his center console and turned to hand me a tract stating that Muslims believe in Jesus. On this day, I simply learned; I did not counter either what he said or the content of flyer. Here's the thing-if I had not asked the question, I would not have ever known such literature existed, let alone what it said. Getting out of the cab I simply said, 'I very much believe in Jesus too ... God bless you now!' and I tipped him well.
Here's the reality: so many folks have had it with the Church - whatever 'the Church' is to them. Sometimes it is a particular denomination, other times a certain church body or even the sea of faces they associate with the hypocritical, judgmental unwashed masses. Often they say, 'I have had it with organized religion.' If there is a good-finding atmosphere in our conversation, I eventually say, 'Well I'm not really sure what you mean because nobody wants to be part of something that is not organized, so could you be more specific?' That's when their hurt or offense comes out, and there is something to discuss.
For instance, walking through a Salt Lake City apartment complex, I was curious if the majority of the residents were Latter Day Saints1. . . no way to beat around the bush, I just had to come right out and ask the leasing agent. [See, I was relocating Dylan, 24, from Flagstaff, Arizona to Sandy, Utah, to get his EMT training and move into the mountains yonder. So I wanted to know what living in that area would be like for him. I had been told by a fellow I had recently met from the town that 'unless you were in the Church, you would never belong.'] She showed me around the complex a little and then I asked about her, and the Church. "Oh no, not me. I'm spiritual, but I do not go to any church. Matter of fact, I've had it with the Church (but of course!); my mother's church back home ruined me on religion-" and she listed the big three---->judgmental, hypocritical and too many rules.
Having been at this same crossroads with many a person, it is at that point I quietly say 'I am not religious either . . . . . . . . but, I do believe in God. Not a religion, not a denomination, but a relationship. By the way, have you read the Bible?' And from there, we're off! I can mention a verse that means so much to me like when Jesus looked at the disciples and said, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives give I to you, so let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."2 Yeah, I memorized that verse some 32 years ago in the roughest time of my life, and it carried me. That's because Scripture is divine, it is truth and it is alive. Could you share a verse with a hurting or wondering person you met on an airplane, Friend? There are so many life-giving verses from scripture.
Then there was the pedicab driver in Charleston. It was Saturday and I had to get to a luncheon the traffic was dead stopped in front of my hotel-what to do? I got this fit young man to pedal me past the steeples and old buildings to my waterfront destination. 'So they call this the Holy City,3 do they?' I asked. He cast a smile over his shoulder as he stood up to pedal, 'well yes Ma'am, they do.' 'How about you - you go to any of these churches I am seeing?' 'Ah no, not for me,' he casually replied. 'Hey listen, why are you in town from California anyway?' he asked. So I had to tell him about "Emanuel" - just had to tell him about the power of forgiveness--'nothing quite like the forgiveness of God in all the world, no sir,' I said. 'It is powerful-mighty powerful,' I said, handing him a twenty-dollar bill, 'and I don't need change.' When his face registered a pleasant surprise at his tip, asking if I was sure, I said, 'Maybe somehow you'll remember that I told you there is a God who loves you, Friend,' and off I jumped in my dress, skipping toward the building.
Since I was a little girl, I have believed in Jesus. Have you ever wondered why we don't go straight to Heaven when we profess our faith in him? Because he left us here to tell others. Some of the last words he told the disciples, standing on the beloved Mt. of Olives were 'you, go be my witnesses.'4 Let me explain what Jesus is saying to you and to me from Acts 1.8: Tell them what you have seen, tell them what I've meant in your life; go on - tell them how I've given you direction. . . about the meaning, the purpose that is yours. Eye-witness testimony is the most powerful thing in a court of law. You have that kind of firsthand experience from walking with me, so tell 'em, Girl!
And you, Joe Businessman, you may be relatively new to this faith thing, but you know the difference I have made in your inner peace, your contentment - and the trust that where you are concerned, I am working it out.
That's because "All things work together for good to those who love the Lord,
to those who are called according to his purpose."5
I invite you into the Grand Adventure! Tell somebody.
1 - LDS - short for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or the Mormon Church, though they
are wanting to rebrand to "The Church of Jesus Christ", appearing to be a Christian church
2 - John 14.27 - memorize it. you won't be sorry
3 - https://lowcountrywalkingtours.com/2019/01/10/charleston-holy-city/
4 - Acts 1.8
5 - Romans 8.28