From Light to Darkness

By April 15, 2015Life Lessons

As I write this post I’m on what I call a “work-cation.” As a writer, I often go away to a more secluded and quiet place where I can be more focused. For now I’m in a little place on Lake Chelan, which is a long, river-like lake nestled among the mountains in Central Washington State. God’s majestic creation encircles this little hamlet with snow-covered mountains, rolling hills and aqua-colored water that in the mornings is more like glass since it’s so smooth.

This morning I needed something at the store, which is about ¾ of a mile from where I am staying. The morning was so lovely that I decided to walk to the store and then stop at a little coffee shop on the way back.

I like to walk (as my loyal readers know), and so I was quick to receive the invitation for a morning stroll from the blue sky and sunshine that called my name. Everything was so glorious! How could it not be when encased in such natural beauty!

My time at the grocery store was quick since I only had one item to purchase, and I also picked up the latest edition of one of my favorite health magazines. Then I was off to the coffee shop for a 16 ounce latte made with whole milk, hold the foam, please.

As I stood at the counter waiting for the hot beverage, I noticed a man sitting at one of the tables reading his obviously well-used Bible. He also had another book with him. It was a small hardback book that was so tattered there was duct tape holding the tome together! My heart filled with happiness as I witnessed a brother in the Lord feeding on God’s truth.

Lake Chelan 002I sat down at a nearby table and glanced over at the duct taped book. It was Oswald Chambers’ hugely popular devotional, My Utmost for His Highest. Again, I felt a spark of joy as I considered the age of this copy and the many hours of use it had granted.

By now, the owner of the coffee shop had stopped by to say ‘hello’ to the man at the table. I overheard their exchange. The man saying he was from out of town and that he and his wife were visiting for the last week, but would be leaving today. The owner expressed how wonderful it was that they could visit at this lovely time of year and he hoped their drive home would be a pleasant one. Awe, more goodness filled the atmosphere with the kind words.

Then it happened . . . the Bible-reading man started talking how he was really upset that the temperatures had been so cool and that the days won’t warm up until after they leave. And then he started complaining about “this time of year” when all the political candidates start coming out and showing their ugly selves. From there he started a people-bashing rant about “them” and “who do they think they are.”

I could see the owner trying to back away from the man, clearly surprised at the unpleasantries being spewed. He finally escaped when a couple entered the shop and he returned to his post to attend to their order.

Then the man turned to me and asked where I lived and what I was doing here at the Lake. I told him I lived a few hours’ drive away and that I would be leaving tomorrow. I asked where he lived, and he told me he and his family live in Seattle, but would like to move near this place. Then he went on to murmur and complain about all the city-people and how they’ve all made life so unpleasant for him.

At least five minutes of the monologue was about people who like dogs and how he hates that dogs live in the city and he has to put up with them. Then he went on to condemn other people who live in the area.

When he took a minute pause, I tried to bring some light back into what had turned into a very dark conversation, “One thing I know for sure is that God calls me to love. And so I try to be God’s love to all those I encounter, even if I don’t agree with their lifestyle or their choices.” But I don’t think he heard me. He went on bashing people and their way of living for another five minutes or more.

He finally stopped when his cell phone rang. Seemed it was his wife asking when he would return.

The man stood up. Grabbed his books, and then said, “Well, my hope is in Christ. I’m not perfect. But I keep my eyes on Him who is.”

We said our good-byes. He walked out the door and I sat there wincing as I tried to reconcile what had just taken place.

So why am I writing about this encounter? Maybe you already see it. Here is my take – actually, it’s not my opinion, it’s the truth of God about His people.

As Christians, we are to be examples of God and His goodness to the world. People, who don’t yet know Christ, watch us. They form their opinions about Jesus and about being a Christian by what they see and by what they witness through our way of acting . . . our way of being.

The Bible calls us “ambassadors for Christ.” An ambassador is defined as “an accredited diplomat sent by a country as its official representative to a foreign country.” For you and me, that means we are diplomats from the Kingdom of God to represent Christ to the world. In our rank, we are to use diplomacy, which is defined as “the work of maintaining good relations between the governments of different countries; skill in dealing with others without causing bad feelings.”

As Christ’s representatives we need to take a look at how are we “showing up” to those who are watching us? And would our Lord, who has sent us into the world on His behalf, be pleased?

One of my favorite passages speaks of this very position you and I hold. It’s from 2 Corinthians 2:14-15, “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.”

Because of this passage, I regularly ask myself, “How do you smell today, Susan?” And if the answer isn’t “sweet and pleasant” then I know I need to make some adjustments.

As God’s chosen people we are to love and we also are called to give grace. That’s the way God does things. So as I think about the Bible-reading man in the coffee shop, I realize he may have been having a bad day or maybe his “culture of living” had hijacking his emotions. Maybe he needed to get some things off his chest and just wanted someone to listen to the issues troubling his heart. And frankly, it’s not for me to judge his heart or his motives.

But what I am called to do is to lead a faith-driven life. To start with what God calls me to do and to try my very best to fulfill His mandates. The default is always to love. We can’t ever make a mistake when we love God and others. And since God sees me as “the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing” I want to be a sweet aroma for Him and to those I encounter.

4 Comments

  • YASHODHA LACHMAN says:

    Dear Susan
    Thank you so very much for your knowledge on Christ so that we may learn . I am not a Christian by birth and am of the Hindu Faith. I had lost my job and came to Allied Transport to start anew. My colleague is a very devout Christian and not to forget , my mum was French Catholic. Everyday she would give me prayers to read and as the days went by I looked forward to scriptures and prayers. I have been dealt with many painful expriences in my life and when my son got sick last year, the only people that were praying for him were Christians (He is also Hindu). Well his results at the doctor yesterday confirmed to me that my son and I will one day go to the land of Jesus , ie Jerusalam . He will stand on the pulpit and preach the word of Jesus. I am certain that my son will soon follow Jesus . AMEN – All my Love Yashodha

  • Surina Nash says:

    Thank you for sharing in honesty your experience Susan!
    I can not even tell you how many times I have refused to hear about the Christian faith because of encounters like what you have described. It makes me SO sad. I can only imagine how sad it makes the Father. However, I am grateful that God is GREATER than His children’s flaws. I am most grateful that He never gave up on pursuing me to show me Jesus. I am one of the lucky ones.

    This is my first time exploring your site. I look forward to seeing and reading more. 🙂

    • Susan Gregory says:

      Hi Surina,

      Thank you for your message. And I too am very thankful that the Lord touched my heart through His Word so I could come into relationship with Him.

      I think these experiences call us to look at ourselves and to learn from what we’ve encountered. Galatians 5:22-23 gives us our marching order for how we are to “be.” But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. My hope is to live this way so others can witness Christ in me.

      Be blessed and thanks for writing.

      • Babalwa says:

        Hi Susan. Thank you very much for the words of wisdom,by reading your experiences and your sharings I grow a lot in Christ,you teach me a lot of things,may the good Lord continuously bless you abundantly. Thank you again,stay blessed,Babalwa Ngombane

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