The Easy Way or the Hard Way

“We can do this the easy way or the hard way. It’s your choice.”

My daughter Rachel was describing her interaction with my grandson Isaiah as she was trying to get him dressed. Like a lot of two and a half year olds he can’t be bothered with things like pants or shoes especially if it means interrupting his play time. She had given him plenty of forewarning that they were going to leave the house and that he must stop playing to get dressed. Finally when time had run out she gave him the choice of doing things the easy way or the hard way. The easy way meant he would cooperatively participate in putting on his clothes. The hard way meant screaming and thrashing around as she navigated his body parts into the proper arm holes and pant legs. After a moment of thoughtful pause he simply said, “The hard way.”

That totally cracked me up! The fact that he would choose to exert that much effort to resist the inevitable showed such strong will. But then again, that attitude seemed strangely familiar. Wasn’t that what I had been doing for the past year?

About a year and a half ago God called me into new ministry. He asked me to venture into the unknown and frankly I was terrified. And yet, believing the call was authentic I knew I had to say yes. Still over the past few months my response has been measured, as if I had some control over the outcome. I kept trying to figure out the path in a way that suited me instead of giving control over to Him. And God had been very patient with me. It wasn’t until recently I have heard God say, “Anne, we can do this the easy way or the hard way, but ultimately, my will is going to be done.”

Reality stepped forward front and center. Week after week I had stood before the congregation leading worship singing that I would go where He led me and yet my spiritual heals were caked with dirt where I had dug in hard to keep from going forward. What a hypocrite you are!  I thought. You say one thing while you do another, choosing to stay safe and secure in a holding pattern. Suddenly I was the two-year old in this story choosing the hard way. I had been thrashing about with indecision and worry instead of acquiescing to the easy way where green pastures and still waters flowed.

And so I have made some hard decisions. Decisions that will lead me out of a wonderful ministry that I love into new areas of ministry opportunity. The funny thing is, I no longer feel angst about the future but am resting in peace. I still do not know exactly what the future holds, but I am O.K. with that. I know that God goes before me and will prepare the way. “The LORD is my shepherd. I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures.  He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.” Psalm 23: 1-3

Name the Name

If you are one of those travelers who prefer to be left alone during the mandatory waiting time before boarding your plane I may owe you an apology. You see, I am one of those annoying people who talks to strangers in airports. If you find yourself in a seat across from me in the boarding area or strapped into the seat beside me on the plane I am probably going to start up a conversation with you.

I promise I won’t interrupt you if you are engrossed with your Kindle or plugged into your Mac or your iPad. But if you are simply sitting alone and staring into space, in my mind, you are fair game. That is especially true if we are sitting side by side on the plane. For me, there is nothing more awkward than wrestling for the armrest with someone I have barely acknowledged beyond a half-smile in response to their muffled, “Excuse me,” as they shuffle by to the window seat. (My long-legged husband always sits on the aisle so I am forever destined to sit in the middle.)

Recently we were traveling internationally which requires you to be in the airport at least two hours before take-off. Surprisingly we got through security very quickly so when we reached our gate there was still a very long wait ahead of us. A stylishly dressed young man walked into the boarding area where we were seated and took the open chair across from us. He carried two bags, but no electronics. I waited a minute or two before striking up a conversation.

You can learn a lot about people in an airport if you are a friendly listener. The anonymity of the experience seems to give people license to talk. The chances of ever seeing each other again are slim so why not socially engage for an hour? I quickly learned that Joe was a twenty-nine year old automotive designer, originally from Maine who now lived in North Carolina. He had met his brother and parents for a weeklong vacation and was headed home to his dog and an important presentation at work.

I told him about my life, too and little by little we got to know each other as well as two people can within an hour and a half time span in an airport terminal. You might wonder why I am even writing about this young man who occupied my attention for such a short time.The real reason is this:

I feel as if I missed an opportunity to introduce him to Jesus.

I casually told him about my walk with the Lord as if it were just another detail in my life instead of it being the most important, defining element that it is. He told me that he had been raised Catholic, but no longer attended Mass because there were too many rules. I told him that it wasn’t really about rules, that it was all about love. But I didn’t name the Name. I don’t even know why. I just kept waiting for the right time and then the time was over and we were being called to board. And now I cannot quit thinking about that missed opportunity to share the Gospel.

My husband thinks I am being too critical of myself. He reminds me that I showed Jesus’ love through example. That I listened to a young man who needed to talk about some of the hard parts of his life. That I gave him encouragement. Somehow that still doesn’t seem like enough.

So I just keep praying for him. I pray that God will call to his heart and open his eyes. I pray that someday soon another person will enter his life and tell him specifically about Jesus. And I pray that the next time I find myself next to someone who doesn’t know the living Savior that I will not get lost in generalities and miss another opportunity to name the precious Name of Jesus Christ.

Great is the Lord in Zion; he is exalted over all the nations. Let them praise your great and awesome name—he is holy. Psalm 99:2-3