Monday, September 1, 2008

The Power of Conversation

Conversations happen all the time. They occur in virtually every corner of the world; they are quite common. Sometimes, though, we may fail to realize the potential value of something so utterly ordinary. Sunday I had several unrelated conversations at church, each of which with special significance in its own right. Taken together, they seemed to act as a neon sign saying, "Pay attention! You've got something to learn here!"

1. On the way to Bible study I ran into a dear woman whose husband passed away this week. Though I was a bit shocked to see her there so soon, I went and gave her a hug and expressed our love and concern for her. She mentioned her appreciation, and then we relived a few good memories. It was a short moment, but it occurred to me that this sort of love and support is exactly what compeled her to get up and make the drive to church just 2 days after her husband's funeral.

2. Walking out the door, I passed one of our welcome team members. I don't know this man well, but I felt prompted just to let him know that I appreciated him serving in this way, and what a big help his service was to our guests. He seemed genuinely touched. He found me 2 days later to thank me personally for my word of encouragement.

3. In the hall, I ran into a woman whose son got back from Iraq months ago and is now preparing to go to Afghanistan in the near future. She asked that I remember to pray for the situation in that part of the world, that peace would come. She obviously bore the kind of burden I have never experienced, and she needed to share it with her church family.

4. After the service, I got to speak and pray with a friend having a particularly difficult challenge. When I asked how he was doing, he tested the waters to see if I really wanted to know. When I demonstrated my genuine concern, he invited me to join him in the struggle.

5. On my way out, I ran into a man who just started coming to our church earlier in the summer. He's had some tough times, and when he first showed up, he didn't look like he "belonged" in church. We talked and I showed him to a seat in the worship service. The next week he was back, and we got to talk again. This past week, he thanked me for welcoming him and speaking to him, explaining that he's not been good at relating to people throughout his life. He's now found a church home and is growing relationally as well as spiritually.

Frankly, this past Sunday was not the norm; too often I tend to focus on the next thing I need to get done. The Lord really used these examples to remind me that He works in those ordinary conversations, using ordinary folks like you and me to build His community of faith and expand his Kingdom.

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