Questions. Over the years, I have had many intriguing, thought-provoking, and sometimes difficult questions asked of me. But there were none more convicting than a question from an honest friend a few years ago. Her name was Marie and we had been in a study group together for several months when the question came up. But before we get to the question, it is important to understand how Marie and I first met.
For those of you who live in a smaller town, you will understand that often you are acquainted with most people but the “knowing them” is pretty superficial in nature. Marie and I would have fit into that category. Our connection was mainly through our husbands who both worked in the medical community where we lived. Our husbands, along with a larger group of men, had organized a family ski trip over Spring Break, including several couples and tons of kids. Each family had their own living arrangements during the trip but we did interact a few times during the vacation. As a caravan of minivans, Suburbans and other large vehicles, we made the long drive from Missouri to Colorado. It was mainly long, not because of the distance, but because of the chaos ensuing in each of the individual cars.
As a nice break, we stopped at a well-known pizza place in Idaho Springs called Beau Jo’s. Crowding into the pizza establishment, I grabbed a seat right beside Marie, her kids, and her husband. This was the first real conversation I remember having with Marie. To be quite honest, I don’t even remember what we said to each other. I feel pretty confident that it revolved around the kids and the vacation. Apart from that pizza dinner, I only visited with Marie one other time on the trip. The second conversation occurred when we happened to run into each other while skiing with our families on one of the mountains. Looking back, the conversation probably lasted around ten minutes or so. Again, very superficial.
Fast forward several years and there we sat together, a little older and wiser, or at least I’d like to think so. Since I had seen her last, someone had given her a copy of “The Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren. The friend who brought it told Marie she felt God was leading her to do so. As Marie read the book, she became convinced that the Gospel was true and it changed her life. As a believer, she wanted to join a study to find out more about Jesus and that’s how we ended up being in a group together.
Every week, I had the opportunity to speak to each of the women in the group by phone. Marie and I became quite good friends as the months unfolded. I have to say that our conversations were some of the most entertaining and fun discussions I’ve had over the years. Marie was a very open, caring person and she was never intimidated about asking exactly what she wanted to know. The decision to follow Jesus hadn’t just been a superficial thing for her. She wanted to know what day-to-day life looked like to live that decision out. Her array of questions included things like, “Do you drink alcohol?” and, “How about Halloween? Do you let your kids dress up and go Trick or Treating?”, and the list went on.
One day as we talked Marie paused and asked, “Can I ask you a question?” My response to that was the typical resounding yes with a qualifier that I might not have an answer, but she was welcome to ask anyway. For the first time I sensed a hesitancy in her voice. She went on, “Why didn’t you tell me?…….When we went on the ski trip, you knew the most important information in the world and you didn’t tell me. Why didn’t you tell me about Jesus?” There was a long silence on the phone. Quite honestly, I didn’t know how to answer. The thoughts that ran through my mind were similar to, “Seriously!!! I probably only spent 30 minutes total talking with you. Are you kidding? I was barely around you. I hardly knew you!”
But I knew then what I know now. All those thoughts came from a feeling of needing to defend my actions and ultimately that stemmed from pride. Yet, when I objectively looked at her question, there really was no defense. I did know the most important thing in the world and I choose not to share it with her. If it had been an earthshaking current event or something exciting about a common friend, I would have immediately told her. The truth is, we don’t treat Jesus like that. We treat him like an old familiar piece of luggage we tote around, like something we keep locked up and carry with us so we have what we need when we need it. The resurrection is the most earthshaking world event there is – for heaven’s sake, our B.C. A.D. dating of time revolves around the birth of the man who pulled it off. There is no more exciting news than that the Creator and Ultimate Judge decided, for no good reason other than grace, to offer us his friendship.
Marie offered me something that day too. She offered me a wake-up call and I have been thankful ever since. The way I talk to people has changed. More and more, I look for ways to bring Jesus into my everyday conversations. I pray and look for open doors to share the most important information I know. To talk about the person I love the most. To introduce the One who can transform anyone anytime. Around my non-Christian friends, and I am thankful to have many, I try to temper that with respect, because I value their friendships. There is nothing better than having relationships where we can engage in open, honest conversations. Genuine questions about what I believe are always welcomed. There is only one question I don’t ever want to hear asked of me again, and that is, “Why didn’t you tell me?”
Who Needs God? Perhaps nobody. Perhaps everybody. Perhaps we should talk about it. Visit whoneedsgod.com
For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!” Romans 10:13-15 NLT
Jesus said, “No procrastination. No backward looks. You can’t put God’s kingdom off till tomorrow. Seize the day.” Luke 9:62 MSG
For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes… Romans 1:16 NLT
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And for another story that answers an important question, try reading “What Do You Do With Loss?”