This past weekend Hubby and I went away for the weekend, to an area of Ontario known as Muskoka. It’s a popular vacation destination just 90 minutes North of Toronto. We went with our Small Group from church to study the book of Colossians. The group consists of 4 couples who are committed to meeting bi-weekly and to “Do Life” together. It just so happens that the 3 other couples in our group are fantastic and although we’re different in many ways we get along really well. There’s lots of sarcasm, banter, laughing and just the right amount of differing perspective and honesty to sharpen our faith.
Throughout this article, I’ll share photos I snapped over the weekend but the beauty of the location will not be my focus.
The true beauty is what took place when we all sat with our Bibles open inside the cottage. Do you meet with people to study the Word on a regular basis? If not I would encourage you to, when you join with others who have the same foundational beliefs the learning is intense.
Paul wrote Colossians while in prison, likely between the years of A.D. 58-62. The Book of Colossians is a mini-ethics course, addressing every area of Christian life. Paul progresses from the individual life to the home and family, from work to the way we should treat others. The theme of this book is the sufficiency of our Lord, Jesus Christ, in meeting our needs in every area.
I wish that I had understood that earlier in life, I had been unable to wrap my head around the fact that I was worthy of Jesus’ sacrifice and I didn’t need to fear facing God with my sins. This is a message I strive to share with others, that God already knows everything inside your heart and values you just as you are. God wants us to come to Him with our broken, messy hearts as long as they’re truly open to Him.
Two verses which struck a chord in me are these:
“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone,” Col 4:5-6
This screamed at me! I’m very open about my Christian faith and people aren’t shy about asking questions of me. I love when they do, but I am aware that my response may affect their quest for information negatively. That knowledge can be frightening at times but I trust in God to provide me with the appropriate responses.
Recently I received a phone call from someone at a horrible time; I had a migraine, my children were vying for my attention and it was almost dinnertime. My tone must have been brisk because the caller asked if she should call back later. Immediately I slowed my brain down, sat at the kitchen table and assured her that it was a good time.
Why did I do that? Usually I would have arranged to ring her back later in the evening when the girls were in bed but there was something in her tone that caught my attention.
Without even performing normal pleasantries, she jumped right by asking a question which has a very simple answer which is quite difficult to verbalize: “So how did you know Jesus was your Saviour? Why did you choose Christianity?”
This is someone I’d never spoken about faith with; she had always been more of an acquaintance, one of the mother’s I chat with when I pick up my girls from school. The question wasn’t shocking, it’s a fantastic one to ask of a believer of Christ but the timing couldn’t have been worse. I was frazzled to begin with and didn’t want to scare her away from investigating her faith journey.
With a deep breath I said a silent prayer and told her my story; the shortened version and stressed that God waited for me my whole life. That He had been reaching out to me the whole time and that I had never been alone. I let her know that one of my hurdles had been my lack of self-worth, feeling like I’d been a moral failure. Because of this poor self- view, I relied upon my ego to guide me and it was a road block to becoming a Christian. I viewed Christian women as pure and certainly couldn’t imagine that being said of me, as with anything I couldn’t comprehend I had looked down upon it. I shared with her one of the Bible verses which helped me through that dilemma:
Psalms 139:13-14: For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
I spoke with her in my normal tone, using my normal language knowing that God would guide me. The phone call in total only lasted 20 minutes but it opened the dialogue. We have since met frequently afterwards to catch up on life in general and to continue this conversation.
This friend is now attending church and continues to investigate and ask the questions which stand in her way today. She has expressed her gratitude to me; thanking me for speaking plainly in a manner she could relate to. She told me that she felt empowered to seek her answers because of our conversations.
When Paul says: “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity” I am reminded of that evening. I’m so grateful that somehow I had previously made an impression upon her which led her to contacting me with her questions, that she felt I would be open to them. I am also glad that I slowed down enough to hear her and to have the opportunity to share with her.
In verse 6 Paul teaches us to “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” When I sat and took that breath I think that God provided the grace that I prayed to Him for. He gave me words which were pleasant to hear, attractive enough to listen to and the conviction that she is as loved by God as I am.
There’s a lot to be said for approach, I think we can all agree that if I approach my children screaming at them in anger, they would be certain to shy away from my aggression and close down from listening to me. Whereas if I approach them with a calm demeanour, a normal tone and language they can understand they are more likely to actually hear my words and get the message.
Living a life with integrity, being upfront about who and what I am has presented me with so many opportunities to share my faith, I hope that continues and that God presents me with the patience, demeanour and language to share His love.