Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A lady like Yoni

At the beginning of this year God started convicting me to share the gospel with anyone & everyone. One morning in January I was driving down Goodman Road & I was just praying, "Lord, I know you want me to share with someone but I don't know who." Then I saw the lady in the picture above, Yoni, walking on the side of the road. My first reaction was "No, surely God didn't mean for me to talk to a lady on the side of road...did he?" This particular day in January was exceptionally cold and the wind was so strong that Yoni had a scarf wrapped around her entire face. I kept driving along and then I said, "ok, God" and I turned the car around and drove back by this lady. I rolled down my window and said, "hey, could I buy you a cup of coffee? (Starbucks was nearby)" She said  she was actually headed there. (Yay! Good sign!) I said I would meet her there. When she walked in Starbucks I gave her a hug and asked her name & we sat down with our coffee. (Remember- this lady is a complete stranger.) I started asking her about The Lord & it turns out she has been walking with The Lord for 30 years! 30 YEARS! She lived in Chicago most of her life & experienced a lifestyle filled with gang violence & dangerous situations. She accepted The Lord in her teens & was brought out of that lifestyle. Here I was thinking I would buy this lady a cup of coffee & share Jesus with her but she was teaching me what it meant to trust The Lord! I was so encouraged by Yoni & her testimony! Yoni grabbed my hand from across the table and prayed over me. Looking back, my encounter with Yoni sparked something in me. I prayed for boldness & was able to sit down with a lady I didn't know and talk about Jesus with her as if she was an old friend. I really cared to hear what she had to say and what her life was like & Yoni saw that & felt free to open up. I'll never forget that day with Yoni & I don't think she'll ever know the impact this first leap of faith had. As I was leaving Starbucks that day she called out to me, "Nicole, keep on shining. Just keep on shining." Sometimes when I'm intimidated, I think of Yoni & her saying "just keep on, Nicole." If I ever see Yoni again I'll just say thank you & then ask her if she wants to grab coffee!  So if I could say anything to you reading this I would say stop limiting your sphere of influence to just people you've known all of your life. As you'll see later on in this blog, there are a lot people like Yoni out there that have crazy testimonies & so much encouragement to give. If only we would stop judging people and meet them right where they are...even on the side of Goodman Road.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

my testimony

Amy Harris encouraged me to start a blog so here it is! ( I'll be adding this to my resume.)
 I'm not really that interesting but we'll see how this goes. I grew up in church and did all the things that "good Christians" do so naturally I thought I was a real Christ follower because my life looked like everyone else in the church. I mean I knew who God was and I told people I was praying for them so I was good, right? My safe church life went on like this for years. Things needed to change because my relationship with God was as deep as a kiddie pool and I didn't know how to get out of my fakeness. Four years ago I was fed up with myself and I got real with God. I knew that it was my own fault that I wasn't close to God. James 4:8 says, "Come near to God and he will come near to you." I had all the knowledge about God but if I was honest I would admit that I was comfortable in my fake Christian life that didn't convict me to do anything with God. I let go of what people told me the Christian life was supposed to look like and I read the Bible for myself and found that my life wasn't adding up. I claimed to worship the God that holds all things together as it says in Colossians 1:17 yet all I cared about was myself. I didn't have a heart for the lost and the least of these. The Lord changed me as I realized that all that I am is plain to God as 2 Corinthians 5:11 says. He knew the motives of my heart and still welcomed me back when I came to my senses and ran to Him. Just typing that gives me chills. Man! I'm four years old in my Christian walk and the Lord keeps shaping my heart and desires. In the last year or so God really convicted me about my willingness to share Him with others. When I say "really" I mean He REALLY convicted me. Since then, I've been like a little kid who just trusts their dad to not only protect them but also to lead them. What I do isn't radical at all. I just trust and obey. How can I say I want to go deeper in my relationship with Christ but then ignore everything He asks me to do? Looking like a fool doesn't phase me. I wouldn't trade this closeness with God for anything the world has to offer me. Many times when I've talked about God's love to complete strangers at a gas station or wherever, I've thought to myself THIS is Jesus' heart. This complete stranger that is opening up to me and sharing their pain with me is the heart of Christ. People are God's heart. I want my life to make sense when I compare it to what it really means to be a disciple. I'm not special by any means. It's only the grace of God in my life.