Mark 16:15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.”
At first, Susan was just another neighbor I met when I moved in. She lived a couple of streets over. We became friends because her little boy Philip and my youngest son Aaron were the same age and became playmates.
I remember thinking Susan was just way too perfect.
She had a short, smart haircut, her clothing style was preppy, and she always looked so put together and clean (squeaky). That was quite a feat considering she had two small children running around with four messy hands and twenty sticky fingers.
The thing that bugged me most though, was her house.
Nothing, I mean NOT A THING was out-of-place, ever, day or night! It was pristine. I know this because I would pop in on her at all times of the day and night, hoping to catch her house in disarray (I know, that’s terrible). I mean, how could this be with two small children under foot? I never caught her off guard, not once.
With all that being said there was something missing with Susan. She seemed to have a wall up a million miles high and as many miles wide.
I recall the day we met for lunch. It was Christmas time. After our usual chit-chat, the subject of beliefs came up. Susan said she wasn’t brought up in church and had never attended.
Wow, I don’t think I had ever met anyone who had never been to church.
Before I knew it, words started tumbling out of my mouth. I told her the whole gospel story and what it meant to me, from the virgin birth to the resurrection.
I have to tell you, listening to myself tell this story, I thought, if I wasn’t a believer I would be thinking this was the most ridiculous story I’d ever heard.
You see, it was my first time.
It was my first time
I had never told the story from the very beginning to the glorious end until that day. All the other times it was about answering questions, filling in blanks to friends or telling what Christ meant to me personally. I had never told God’s whole redemptive story from start to finish.
When I got through, I looked at Susan, and she stared back at me like a deer caught in headlights (to this day I can see the expression on her face).
My first thought was… uh oh, I blew that one, but then she said, “That’s the first time I’ve heard about Jesus.”
I was shocked. How could a young, all-American mom live out 30 years of her life and never hear about Jesus?
I went home happy we had the conversation but still believing she was thinking I was a total nut case. But I prayed for her every day and for the seed God allowed me to plant.
Soon after our lunch date our lives seemed to go in opposite directions. Our children went to different schools and were involved in various sports, none of them overlapping. Our paths didn’t cross so much anymore.
I continued to pray for Susan, that God would bring someone else into her life who would continue to plant seeds of faith.
And He did, a mutual friend, Kim.
About a year passed and I heard that Susan’s husband was being transferred. They sold their house in record time (of course, because it looked perfect and nothing was ever out-of-place) and they were soon off to a new adventure in Ohio.
Kim kept in touch with Susan better than I did. A year had flown by when I received a disturbing phone call from Kim about Susan’s son Philip. He had contracted meningitis. They had mistaken it for the flu and he was now lying in a hospital bed, near death. I was asked to pray, so I got the prayer chain going.
John 13:35 All men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.
I was able to speak with Susan on the phone several times during the long ordeal of Philip’s illness. The gory details of what this disease was doing to his little body was hard to take. I sent her a book by Max Lucado, hoping the words she read would provide her comfort and strengthen her faith. She and the kids had started going to a church up there, however they had not yet joined. Susan was amazed at how the church members rallied around her family, meeting their every need before she could even ask.
During this time I felt God impressing upon my heart to ask Susan if she had ever asked Jesus to be her Lord and Savior. If there was ever a time to need Him, it was now.
Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.
I nervously penned a letter to Susan. Spilling my guts, I explained the gospel message again and asked her to accept Jesus as her Lord and Savior. I expressed to her that He could help her cope with anything and get her through what now looked to be a long arduous recovery for Philip.
Weeks passed and she never answered my letter. I spoke with her a couple of times catching up on Philip’s rehabilitation and she never even mentioned the letter.
I didn’t either.
Again, I felt stupid. Should I have even sent it? I prayed fervently to God, “I know I’m just the seed planter but please allow me to know that Susan is yours.”
I just wanted to know that she was sealed for eternity.
Another year passed. Christmas cards were exchanged. Philip had made a miraculous recovery. There were no signs left of the meningitis that had ravished his little body and threatened his life just a year earlier.
One day, out of the blue, I received a phone call from Susan. It was wonderful to hear her cheerful voice. We did the small talk thing and caught up but I wondered why she really called. I knew it wasn’t to make small talk. The words she spoke next moved me to tears as they still do even as I write them now.
She said, “I wanted to call you today to let you know that I joined my church. They asked me to stand up and give my testimony.” She paused and then continued, “I told them the first time I heard about Jesus was the day I had lunch with you. Thank you.”
My prayer was answered. God didn’t have to let me know but He did. The phone call confirmed it. I was just a seed planter, but what and honor and privilege it was to plant the seed and also see the harvest.
We may never know this side of heaven the impact we may have on someone’s life, by the words we use and the stories we tell. This time I did and I will forever be grateful.
Who lives two streets down from you? Who lives next door? Is it the all-American girl, the one that looks like she has it all together…. a perfect life? Maybe she does or maybe something is missing. And maybe it’s YOU God is calling to supply the missing piece. Are you willing? Will you go?
I challenge you today to be somebody’s…. first time.