As is often my custom, I like to escape from mommy and house duties a few times a month and spend time writing in a coffee shop. A couple of years ago on one such outing, I had the opportunity detailed below.
And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. (Ezekiel 36:26, NLT)
As I entered Panera, a couple came in behind me. I noticed them immediately in the parking lot. The bald head, slow gait, and walker for a woman in her 30’s grabbed my eye first. Then her husband helping her and waiting on her patiently subsequently grabbed my attention.
I hurried in ahead and ordered already beginning to be disturbed by this frail woman whose diagnosis quickened one’s thoughts to the eternal. The Holy Spirit began impressing upon my heart to go and talk to her and ask her name so that I could pray for her. Also, He urged in my spirit that I should share the gospel with them if they did not immediately decline my intrusion upon their lunch. I squeamishly asked God to have them sit beside me as if I was the one having to labor to walk! He did not do that, but instead put them within sight. I prayed for my opportunity, ate my lunch, read some commentary, then gathered my writing supplies to travel the 5 yards over to their table.
After short introductions, I asked Nicole if I could pray that she would be healed from her cancer followed by asking her and her husband their thoughts on God and heaven. They responded that they had just been talking about God. However, Wade said they weren’t religious at all so I proceeded to lay out the gospel. In the course of our 15-minute conversation, Wade went from saying, “We are all god,” to saying, “What god would make only one way to him?” to, “It is my right to approach God without an intermediary let alone Jesus.”
Wow. Wade had an obvious beef with Christianity because it proclaims that there is only one way to God and therefore heaven.
Both Nicole and Wade, much like the majority in our day, had a problem with absolute truth. To say that Christianity is the only way is to say that one way is right and others are wrong. That was a stumbling block for both of them. I will spare you all the details of our conversation, but sadly, Nicole and Wade left saying they would pray that my eyes would be opened to the fact that Jesus isn’t the only way to God and for an open mind for me to embrace other faiths. Undoubtedly, this was not how I had hoped it would go, but I was minimally contented in my obedience to Christ and prayerful that He would use my meager obedience to one day bring these lost sheep to Christ Jesus’ saving grace.
Don’t you wish that every lost and dying soul would appear to our spiritual eyes as a frail chemotherapy patient? Wouldn’t that make the sense of urgency in sharing more real for us on an unavoidable level? It would be hard to escape the emaciated bodies on TV, billboards, and restaurants across our land. Sporting events would look much different if the players were barely able to stand much less slam dunk, fast pitch, and tackle.
“Prophecy,” says the Lord in Ezekiel 37:4. In other words, preach. Tell God’s story. How hard is that?
I was almost in tears before I even approached Nicole and Wade. I was praying and hoping that I would be able to hold it together to preach to them. It didn’t take long for my emotions to subside once I was confronted with the hardened hearts of two very lost people. Neither this woman, nor her husband can save Nicole, yet she and her husband refuse to believe in Jehovah-Rapha. Rather, they deny His provision and salvation. These were dry bones indeed; very dry. Only God can breathe The Life into these two lost souls.
In Ezekiel chapter 47, Ezekiel is prophesying to wayward, exiled Jerusalem:
I will put my Spirit in you and you will live again and return home to your own land. Then you will know that I, the LORD, have spoken, and I have done what I said. Yes, the LORD has spoken! (Ezekiel 37:14, NLT)
God longs for His glory to be revealed, to be reveled in, and to be made a big deal of. Many times in the Old Testament God says, “Then you will know that I the LORD have spoken, and I have done it, declares the LORD.” It is for God’s glory and His renown that He saves us spiritually, physically, and undeservedly again and again.
Above all, you must realize that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophet’s own understanding, or from human initiative. No, those prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God. (2 Peter 1:20-21, NLT)
God wants the glory. I hope God breathes His Holy Spirit upon Nicole and Wade. It will indeed take a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit to give these people a heart of flesh to replace their heart of stone.
I will be listening and waiting expectantly to hear the rattling of bones, and then see the bones coming together with tendons and flesh and skin. Until that moment, I will keep prophesying and praying and asking God to sanctify and refine me, a wretched sinner turned saint.
So he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.” ( Zechariah 4:6, ESV)