Standing in an elevator and making small talk with a stranger is on a long list of things I’d rather not do. The Lord knows that, but He wasn't concerned with my comfort when I found myself trapped on a 5-story journey with Aidan* following a long day at an evangelism conference.
Pleasantries over our business in town and vocations (he managed a local movie theater) were almost exhausted by the time I heard ding! But suddenly there it was, the bridge into spiritual things — the recently released Jesus Revolution film.
I remember thinking about all of the pastors and ministry leaders, every Christian in that hotel who was more experienced, more mature, more faithful, more equipped. But God chose to put me on that elevator.
So, I took a deep breath and plunged into a Gospel conversation.
Aidan grew up attending Catholic school, but he's not interested in the organized church. He believes in a higher power, but not the God of the Bible. He's a songwriter, a grandpa, a stand-up comedian. He loves religious films, but doesn't consider himself religious.
He even said he "got saved" after a business partner tearfully shared the Gospel and pleaded with him to repent and believe. But Jesus? Not for him; good people made it to heaven.
When I asked him why he wanted to do good works instead of trusting in the One who already did the work for us on the cross, he just shrugged and changed the subject.
But he kept talking to me, and so I stood and I listened to theologically confused assertions, stories about grandchildren, and everything in between for at least half an hour—hands full of luggage and a late-night dinner, heart full of a desire for him to taste and see the goodness of God.
Every time I was tempted to end the conversation, I thought: Lord, he's still open. Give me one more opportunity. Just one more opening. One more.
I wish I would have been more clear, more bold.
But Aidan let me pray for him before we parted ways, and just as abruptly as the conversation had started, it was over.
As I retreated to my hotel room, already combing over everything I could have done better, every word I stumbled over, every tiny opportunity I missed, I asked God to take the truths I shared with Aidan about the Gospel and make them like pebbles in his shoe … that the farther down the wide path of life he walked, the more uncomfortable each step would become until he would have to stop, shake out the pebbles, and confront Jesus.
I don't know if Aidan ever will. But I pray he does. If he rejects Jesus, it will be in spite of my prayers, in spite of the prayers and witness of his friend, who implored him to accept God's free gift of grace. And perhaps in spite of others who follow us, maybe on elevators or in gas stations or standing in line at the grocery store.
You might water those seeds, help him sort through the pebbles, or even reap a harvest — and if not in Aidan's life, then hopefully in the lives of countless others with whom you share the Gospel throughout your lifetime.
I'm convinced, now more than ever, that God uses our tiny, frail, flawed, even reluctant acts of obedience and faithfulness to pierce the darkness with the marvelous Light of the World and empower us more and more to be a city on a hill.
May we shine like stars, sowing seed and filling shoes with pebbles and imploring those who cross our paths to be reconciled to God.
*-Not his real name.
Tessa Redmond reports on life issues for Kentucky Today. You can reach her at email@example.com.