Some years ago, my passion for horses found me riding several days a week at a stable near our home. During my hours there, I became friends with an older man named “Jerry” who served as a general caretaker and repairman around the property. Jerry was a gentle soul and mostly kept to himself, but over time we had some fairly meaningful conversations, some of which occasionally veered into topics related to religion. Jerry’s religious background included an upbringing within a very stern Catholic culture, and it became clear that he still struggled with issues of guilt and reward. For the most part, I listened to his stories and laughed with him, and tried to share some “Reformed wisdom,” even while I wasn’t sure how much he wanted to hear or, for that matter, what more I could say.
During those years, I was also involved with worship planning activities at our church. For one particular sermon series, our pastor was going to be patterning his messages after Phillip Yancey’s book “What’s So Amazing About Grace?” and those of us on the planning team were encouraged to read it as well. It was the week of one our planning meetings, and I had fallen a bit behind in my reading; I still remember sitting up late on a Wednesday night trying to get caught up, power-reading through chapter after chapter about the incredible scope and power of God’s grace, available even to those who by societal standards seem so undeserving…Jeffrey Dahmer…members of the KKK…Nazi soldiers who partook in the holocaust…the thief on the cross…how Mother Theresa needs grace as much as each one us and God does not grade on a curve.
The next morning I was back at the barn, and soon bumped into Jerry, who seemed especially serious: “I need to talk to you.” It was like he finally allowed something in his soul to uncork and he started rattling off questions. Questions about—of all things—GRACE. His very first question: “So do you mean to tell me that a serial child molester can just accept Jesus at the last minute and go to Heaven?”
And guess what, I had unknowingly crammed for this “examination” just 12 hours earlier, and I knew just what to say, illustrations and everything! For the next 30 minutes, I am certain Jerry heard exactly what he needed to hear about grace and I could answer every question he threw at me.
“Do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say.” (Matt. 10:19)
I know it’s true.
God had a plan to share His good news with Jerry, and prepared the road that led to the conversation on that Thursday morning, equipping me with both the content and confidence I needed. The same Holy Spirit that was poured out on the disciples has been gifted to each and every true believer, what awesome power lives in us! So go boldly into any situation that God may lead you; you’ll not face it alone!