At Bible study last week we went over the beginning of the story of Jesus and the woman at the well and something that stuck out to me was what a genuine encounter it was. Christ was not in the act of "evangelizing" but was out in public trying to get dinner plans worked out when he met this woman. It was what people call a "divine appointment". In my own words a divine appointment is one of those encounters with other people that are special in the realm of spiritual opportunity. This of course can and does happen in outreach ministry but it is in no way limited only to evangelistic endeavors.
Maybe the person you gave a tract to was just wrestling with whether or not Jesus is God and here you give them just what they needed to read. Maybe the person you're sitting next to was feeling like they need to start reading their Bible and you spark up a conversation about the Bible. These are the dream appointments that I fantasize about while I am sitting next to someone and I feel like I should share something with them. In the past two days I have had chances to share and I feel like reflecting about them. No need to worry that I'm boasting here--as you read my examples you'll be put to ease.
Jase gets done praying to God for genuine and divine opportunities to share the gospel with people. As he is getting ready to leave the park, a girl who he hasn't seen in over a year pulls into the spot next to him. Jase rolls down his window to and starts talking with the girl a little bit about what she's studying in school (Social Work in case you were wondering) and what he's been up to. He hits that weird part of the conversation and says "Well, I'm going to go buy some shoes...". (Yep! That's right folks "I'm going to go buy some shoes"! It was the truth, I was going to look for some shoes, but come on!) As he drives away he suddenly remembers that he had just prayed to God for that very appointment and he ended it because the conversation reached a lull. I was encouraged that God answered my prayer that quickly and reproved at my lack of discipline to keep the right frame of mind that it takes to share Christ with someone for even 20 minutes. Lesson learned: You must keep your mind and heart ready to share at all times in order to fully take advantage of a divine appointment. They can slip by very quickly and end up as nothing more than cordial encounters if you let them.
Jase sits outside on a beautiful day reading his Bible and a girl sits next to him. He continues reading while praying for a chance to share with her. After working up the courage he pulls a New Testament out and says "Can I give you something to read?". She answers "Is this yours?" To which he responds "Yea, but I carry them around to hand out." She is quick on her feet and says "Well... I already have one." Jase, for some unknown reason is totally not expecting this reaction and freezes up. Instead of trying to take the conversation deeper and ask her some questions he says "OK, have a good day!" Kicking himself as he walks away he is thankful for the encounter, but wishes he could have done more. Lesson learned: Don't plan your conversations and interactions too far in advance. I was expecting her to be closed off and just take the book, but there was an even greater opportunity there that I wasn't ready for so I panicked and left.
There is nothing wrong with nice and friendly encounters and maybe sometimes there is no opportunity to share about the things of God. Smiling and saying hey is sometimes all we have the time and resources to do. I don't want to come off the wrong way and make it seem like I want to float from one hour long gospel conversation to the next (wouldn't that be nice though!?).
However, these appointments felt different and so I wanted to reflect on them. I am grateful for each of these encounters in the last couple days and encouraged that God would answer prayer so wonderfully. Further, I am comforted by the thought that I cannot save these people and only God can. So in a way my labors are in some manner always going to be ineffectual unless God moves peoples' hearts. That being said, I like talking about Jesus and I want to make my interactions as glorifying and truth filled as He will let them be. I fell short in these two ways this week but am excited for future divine appointments and what God can do.