I had lunch today with the man who said on my first Sunday here, "I wish I had faith like you have!" This was before he told me that he wasn't sure if he believed in God, but felt it necessary to continue to come to church to be around "people like me."
In that brief moment, I shared the true story of a pastor who had once lost his own faith and was so broken he felt that he could no longer preach or be an effective minister to his congregation. He asked his church board to accept his resignation. The board declined, saying instead, they wanted him to continue to go into the pulpit every Sunday and preach to them his doubts and his struggles. So, that's what the pastor did and months later, through the preaching and teaching, the pastor realized his faith had been restored.
My lunch date, this white man in his mid-60s, recounted this story to me today and right then I was reminded of seed planting and harvesting. I was reminded that God's word doesn't return void and that at some point, if it has been planted and watered properly, you'll begin to see little buds peeking through the earth. You know, honestly, I had forgotten that I shared that story with him. But he didn't. Apparently there was something there that struck him, stuck with him and had him evaluating his own faith struggles. In that moment I was both honored and humbled that he would want to have this conversation with me. That he thought there was something I could offer. It wasn't until my reflection on the lunch that I was reminded that God reveals himself in many instances and today, at that very moment over plates of breakfast and lunch, God sat and helped me walk through that pastoring moment. I remember sitting there praying that God would tell me what to say if I needed to say anything. And of course, God did. God helped me navigate the conversation -- which included stories about my childhood, his grandchildren and children, my beliefs, his struggles with belief and his view of himself in the world --in such a way that it prompted my lunch date to inquire whether we could meet again.
He wants to talk about the purpose of prayer and the benefits of praying as our next table topic.
How fitting! We will have a conversation on the very topic I'm teaching in my Wednesday night class and will be preaching as part of a series on July 19 and July 26.
I remain constantly amazed how God uses us. How God makes it possible for a simple get-to-know you lunch to become a ministering moment that serves both parties at the table.
My lunch date doesn't know it, but talking about my faith that day in all actuality helped strengthen my own a little bit more. Cause sometimes just in talking about it, you're reminded of what God has already done.