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Power Encounter

When Opportunity Comes Crashing

By Laura J. Bagby
CBN.com Sr. Producer

CBN.comEver had some unwelcome guest butt into your conversation with some inappropriate comments? You probably squirmed or tried to brush it off. Normally, you don’t think much of those annoying circumstances. But this particular night was different.

I was celebrating my friend Kay’s birthday at a local restaurant. Our party of eight gals was near the bar, and I kept noticing at various points throughout the night the loud laughs and the curious stares of several people at the bar, and the glances of one particular dark-haired gentleman. Frankly, it made me uncomfortable. But I figured he was harmless, and so I tried to ignore him.

Near the end of our girls’ night event, the dark-haired guy still in his work uniform came up to our table, noticeably intoxicated, and said as passionately as if he were speaking to his best buddy, “I just love ya’ll. You guys are great!”

He told us his age and asked what we were celebrating, thinking it was some bridal shower get-together. Kay informed him that it was her birthday party. But in his drunken stupor, the dark-haired man didn’t get the message. He thought our birthday friend was expecting. We kind of looked at each other and tried not to laugh hysterically. If it hadn’t have been somewhat pathetic, I probably would have let myself enjoy a good belly laugh.

We quickly gathered our things and left, at this point practically doubled-over outside the restaurant in fits of hysterics about that guy who had had too much to drink. And then, guess who walked out the door for round two of our discussion.

It was an awkward moment when we as women usually prefer the safety of our cars to talking with some tipsy stranger in a parking lot. It didn’t seem the wisest decision to talk with this potentially dangerous man who might not remember anything the next morning.

The crowd grew silent – all except one. My friend Anna saw what no one else in that group understood at that moment: an opportunity.

Sure, this guy was embarrassing. Sure, he seemed pathetic. Sure, he was stumbling and slurring his speech. But he was a person, an obviously hurting person.

Anna had lived out some tough times in her life and had come through the other side with her faith intact. Because of that, she had compassion for this searching soul, whom I will call Harold. She took the posture of listening to the real, vulnerable person behind the offensive exterior. I and the rest of the girls quickly felt that my friend had discerned a God moment.

You could sense his internal struggle. Harold was emotionally bleeding before us, confessing that he drank away his troubles and wasn’t proud of it. He had been terribly hurt in a love relationship and was feeling betrayed for past wounds. He told us how disappointed he was and how much he just couldn’t trust people anymore.

Having grown up Catholic and attending Baptist functions for much of his life, Harold seemed kind of done with religion. He was noticeably confused about his faith, claiming to know the Bible like the back of his hand and yet not grasping the most obvious of truths concerning right living. He didn’t understand that you couldn’t just pray the prayer to get saved and then do want you want. He assumed God wouldn’t care how he chose to live his life.

Sensing that he might be receptive to truth, I challenged him on that. I told him that it was wrong to be in rebellion, that being a rebel wasn’t a good thing. Without missing a beat, he asked with the honesty of a child, “What do you mean by being a rebel?” I told him that when we openly choose not to do the thing that we know is right, then we are in rebellion. When we know what God is saying to us and yet don’t do what He says, we are rebels.

He took it all in. and then he went off and talked about his life and how he just couldn’t get back on track. Sometimes he almost cursed. Sometimes he got a little confrontational. Yet, behind that frustrated façade was a broken man who really needed God. And somehow, even in his dizzy state, he knew it, too.

And each time Harold had a desperate concern or pleading comment, one of us tried to point him back to the truth of God – in love. We even encouraged him when, with much disillusionment, he asked semi-rhetorically, “Who has joy and fulfillment, anyway?” We practically said in unison, “We do! And you can, too.”

Harold didn’t stop and confess his need for Jesus Christ to be his Savior and His Lord that night on the curb. And he didn’t rededicate himself to the God he says he claimed in childhood. But something significant had just happened nonetheless.

After maybe that half an hour conversation, as we were walking through the parking lot to head home, Kay paused for a moment and said, “You know, maybe he’s the reason why we were here tonight. Maybe we were meant to talk to this one guy.”

Although I answered quickly and lightheartedly with, “No, this night was about YOU and celebrating YOUR birthday,” there was no doubt in my mind that she had hit on something. You could almost feel the weightiness of those words.

This wasn’t some coincidental meeting. This was a divine appointment, conducted by God Almighty.

I prayed aloud in Kay’s car, “Lord, we just ask for Harold’s salvation, because he is obviously confused about his faith and doesn’t know what he is saying. Please let that man remember the truth that we told him tonight. Please let him pick up your Word again and read it for himself.”

I don’t know what happened to Harold. I haven’t seen him since. But God knows. And He is always wooing men and women to Himself through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Never underestimate what one encounter with an annoying stranger might do. You never know what seeds of faith you might plant. You never know what God might do to turn a life around because you spent the time to listen and inspire someone to get back on the path of life.

God never wastes an opportunity. We shouldn’t either.

Comments? E-mail me.


How to Give Your Life to Christ:

1. Admit you are a sinner and need forgiveness.

2. Believe that Jesus Christ died for you on the Cross and rose from the grave.

3. Through prayer, confess that Jesus Christ is the only way to God and commit to live for Him for the rest of your life.

What to Pray:

Dear Lord Jesus,

I know that I am a sinner and need your forgiveness. I believe that You died on the cross for my sins and rose from the grave to give me life. I know You are the only way to God so now I want to quit disobeying You and start living for You. Please forgive me, change my life and show me how to know You. In Jesus' name. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer, please send us an e-mail to let us know. Or you can call our CBN Prayer Counseling Center at (800) 759-0700. We would love to talk with you and send you some resources to help you begin your walk with the Lord.


Laura J. BagbyLaura J. Bagby produces the Health and Finance channels. She writes inspirational, humor, singles, entertainment, and health articles.

 

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