What ministry opportunity awaits you today? I’ve experienced a few surprises in that department recently. Here’s one example:
My husband and I enjoy going to church early so we can visit with whoever’s there (our facility has a nifty coffee area ideal for this). A week ago, enroute to the service after mixing and mingling with new friends, I decided to pay a quick visit to the ladies’ room. Actually, I waffled with the idea and finally decided it was better to be safe than sorry. Upon entering the washroom, I knew immediately that my final decision had been God-directed. There, standing by the sink, was a lady I’d never met. Tears streamed down her face.
My first thought was, Oh my goodness. What’s this all about? I whispered an arrow prayer for wisdom and then opened my mouth. The first words were, “Oh dear. You’re not doing well, are you?” The lady wiped her eyes with a tissue and shook her head.
“What can I do for you?” I asked. She said nothing.
“May I give you a hug?” I asked as I took a step toward her. She nodded and leaned into my shoulder. Then she began to talk. Her ex-husband had died suddenly only 12 days prior. The timing was especially sad because they were considering reconciliation. The circumstances were sad, too – the immediate family lacked finances to bury or cremate his body so they’d donated it to medical research. She was not a church-goer but had come to this service because our pastors had kindly agreed to perform a memorial service on his behalf.
My heart broke for this woman. “Do you have someone to sit with in the service?” I asked. She shook her head again. She’d come alone and knew no one. “Then you’re welcome to sit with us.” She gladly accepted the offer.
Four days later we attended her husband’s memorial service. When we entered the church foyer, she smiled and said, “You came!” Then she introduced us to her grown kids as though we’d known each other for years. And she asked for my phone number so we can pray together sometime.
Where this unexpected connection will lead is anyone’s guess. But one thing I do know – God gave me the opportunity to make a difference in the life of a grieving woman that day. In essence, I was a “planter,” sowing a seed of kindness into her life. I pray that He’ll bring other planters alongside, and that eventually He’ll produce a harvest of spiritual maturity in her life.
John 4:35-38 speaks about planters and harvesters. “Wake up and look around,” Jesus says. “The fields are already ripe for harvest.” I couldn’t agree more. People with deep hurts are everywhere – in our homes, our neighborhoods, our workplaces, our clinics and hospitals, our kids’ schools, airports, shopping malls, senior citizens’ homes, and yes, even in our churches. Sometimes they mask their problems with a plastic smile. Sometimes they need a listening ear and soft shoulder.
We can make a difference by planting a seed of kindness into their lives. Being an effective planter means going through our days wide awake, our eyes open to recognizing God-directed moments and seizing them. What those moments will look like for you is anyone’s guess, but I can guarantee you this – when you recognize them and respond, you’ll make a difference in someone’s life. And you’ll experience the joy that’s promised to planters and harvesters alike (v. 36).
How have you been a planter in someone’s life recently?