I love the little ironies of life; especially those that show how God’s been at work in our lives all along.
I was not yet a follower of Yeshua while in college. At one point, I began a friendship with a coed named Gail, taking her to a couple of campus social events. Before the friendship had progressed far, she invited me to attend church with her. Startled, I responded rather bluntly by asking, Why would I do that?” Gail told me how much she loved her church and the people who attended. She explained, too, how she appreciated her pastor’s clear biblical teaching and encouraged me to come see for myself.
I tried to deflect her a second time, expanding my original response ever so slightly. “No, why would I do that since I’m Jewish?” She didn’t really have an answer regarding my Jewishness; she simply told me that Jesus meant a lot to her. I was closed to the gospel and decided at that point to end the relationship.
The irony is that 39 years later, I was filling the pulpit at First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood for their Missions Sunday. This was the very same church that Gail attended when we were in college…the very same church she had invited me to visit…the very same church I had refused to attend. And there I was, representing Jews for Jesus. How’s that for a beautiful little irony?
I shared the story about Gail with the interim pastor early in the day. During the last of four services, I was encouraged to tell it to the congregation.
And, yes, Gail was in church for the fourth service that Sunday morning. She, along with her daughter Robin, came after the service to extend a greeting. It was a blessing to see her telling the interim pastor, “I was the coed.” Gail knew that I had become a Christian back in the early 1970s. She told me that she did not recall being “much of a witness” in college, but she did remember praying. Well, she was enough of a witness that I avoided her at the time, but as a result of her prayers and the prayers of others, I was unable to avoid Jesus.
Thanks to God for His grace! And thanks to God for Christians who are not ashamed to invite unbelievers to their church, or to risk a relationship in the hope of seeing a friend come to faith in Jesus.