Watching My Witness

This past summer my entire family spent a beautiful week on the shores of South Carolina. On the last day of our vacation I sat on the balcony overlooking the ocean with my twenty-two month old grandson. We watched the waves lazily lap up on the sand against the back drop of a robin’s egg  blue sky and I began to pray aloud. I thanked God for the wonderful family time we had spent together, asked for traveling mercies as each one made the journey home and said a special prayer of healing for the little one in my lap. He had taken a fall the afternoon before and had been limping around on an obviously sore ankle.

Anyone watching us from a distance would not have necessarily known that I was praying. I wasn’t in a typically recognized prayer posture – my head wasn’t bowed, my hands weren’t folded and my eyes were wide open. I simply sat in the sunshine with Isaiah and had an out loud conversation with Jesus. And that morning a most remarkable thing happened when I’d finished speaking to the Lord. As I closed my prayer I said, “Thank-you, Jesus” and without pause a little voice piped up and said, “Amen.” I was so blessed in that moment. I’d had no idea that he was even paying attention to what I was saying or doing and yet in the mysterious, wonderful working of the Spirit he had become my little prayer partner.

That experience reminded me how important my witness is in this world. What I do and say matters even when I think that nobody is paying attention. My witness is so much more than just the times I spend in front of the congregation leading worship when I know people are watching me. The opportunities for which I have come prepared to sing or to speak – cleaned up and clarified– ready to share what God has called me to do are tremendous, but what of those other times? The times when I am blindsided with the unexpected or encounter a critic – what does my witness look like then? Am I still the sunny, smiling woman full of kindness and patience? Or do I fall into the trap of complaining and adopt a woe-is-me attitude? I wince at the thought of some of the reactions I have had when the world-according-to-Anne doesn’t cooperate.

Then there are the daily miniscule interactions I have with the ones around me in the lines in which I wait or with the people I pass in the hallways. Do each of these say “There’s a woman after God’s own heart!” When no one is noticing, am I living as if they were? My witness matters in these times too, because even when no human eyes see me, there is One who knows my every thought and every word. Is my life a living, breathing, praising act of worship to the One who created me and loves me far beyond my own ability to fathom?

Micah 6:8 says that my witness should be to “To act justly and to love mercy  and to walk humbly with your God.” I want to live like that, but if I am to walk humbly with God then I must to stick close by Him in loving obedience, not impatiently running up ahead or lackadaisically lagging behind. Ultimately, I want what I do and say to point to Jesus in the extraordinary and the mundane, the expected and the surprises, and even when I think that nobody else is watching or listening. After all, I might just get an unexpected, “Amen.”

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