As I stood on the grounds of Balmoral Estate, unexpected warmth from the rarely seen Scottish sun did nothing to remove the chill of guilt and worry that enveloped my spirit. I clutched my cell phone, hoping my tight grip would steady my shaking hand. I held on, as my brother continued to inform me that our mother’s reaction to her last round of chemo was life-threatening. I ended the call and turned on my heel to look toward 20 expectant faces—each one a reminder that I carried the full responsibility of hosting them on a vacation of a lifetime. I buried my personal concerns and found my brave face. I couldn’t let them down.
The excited chatter of the tourists hung in the air as we traversed a cobblestone path past the grey, granite castle to Her Majesty’s botanic gardens. I, too, was deep in conversation but not with any person, rather with my Heavenly Father. As my prayer started, I wanted to bargain and plead with Him until I remembered my favorite words of comfort from Matthew 6:27-29:
“And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”
My mom loved lilies for their fragrance and their simplicity, so I wasn’t surprised by the comfort I found in the verse. As we walked along, I continued my prayer. God I believe You’re here with me, but right now, I would love to feel Your presence in a way I never thought possible.
And then it happened—God simply took my breath away.
We entered Queen Elizabeth’s private conservatory which was brimming with flowers. Amongst the beautiful burgundy and fuchsia geraniums were hundreds of white calla lilies. God stood with me in my moment of weakness, when I confessed my guilt for being thousands of miles away from someone I loved, and He gave me lilies. He could not have spoken the truth, “Don’t worry child, I’ve got this” any louder. I took out my phone and snapped a photo of one of the lilies—God’s lilies.
When I returned home six weeks later, I printed an 8×10 photo of the lily I have titled “God’s Lily” and gave it to my mom with a written explanation of what it meant to me. Weeks later, when I found out a friend of mine was diagnosed with cancer, I printed another photo and sent her a letter. I reassured her that on her journey God would be with her. Since that time, I have printed hundreds of photos of “God’s Lily” as part of my letter to people whom I know are facing great challenges.
FROM MOMENT TO MINISTRY
Over the years, “God’s Lily” has given me a practical way to reach out with the message that God loves us and desires to comfort us in times of difficulty and distress. Too often, we seem to get caught up in big words and the overwhelming concept of evangelism, and many of us run from it. But the task is pretty clear: Love your people in practical ways. Show them that God is with them during the most crucial times in their life—and that you will be there for them, too.
I believe God created us to be nurturers, and so it may feel natural to reach out to someone in pain with His promises—especially when we have an experience to share in a very real way. We can also engage with the people God has placed in our path in very practical ways by offering to deliver a meal, watch their kids, or drive them to an appointment. Yet, we may feel timid or afraid when it comes to encouraging or comforting someone else. Our sensitivity that motivates us to help, may also make us afraid to say or do the wrong thing. When we are genuine in our responses, however, we communicate God’s love in such a way that it speaks of care and concern. God also reassures us that He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us (2 Corinthians 1:4).
As you consider how you can reach out to those around you, think about a time when God intervened and was present in an exceptional way in your life. It may be something as simple as a spectacular sunrise on a morning when you were headed to a doctor’s appointment, or a neighbor handing you a warm cup of tea after a rainstorm. It may be an answered prayer, or a sermon that gave you clarity. You know your moments!
Once you have identified a special God-moment in your life, consider who God may be asking you to share it with. Pay attention to your day to day conversations and God will show you who needs to receive your love and care in a difficult situation. I also find that when I ask God to show me who He would like me to help, He always provides someone.
When it comes to sharing my experience with others, I found it was best for me to have one letter that I could adapt to each person’s situation. It included details about what happened, why the moment was meaningful, how God was present, and the promise He offers for their specific situation. You may choose to share the experience in a phone call, over coffee, or while you are delivering a meal, but no matter how you choose to do it, remember simplicity is beautiful. You have a genuine gift for a person in need—providing the gospel message to a heart that needs encouragement. Enjoy this moment—I promise you will both treasure the joy you share.
But don’t stop there. We want to make sure that we continue to show care for people throughout their difficult time. Commit to pray for them, but also text them your prayers. Continue to develop the relationship by sharing encouraging words, written Bible verses, and maintaining regular contact by making phone calls or meeting together. As you follow up, you will likely find the appropriate time to invite them to your home, church, a Bible study, or faith-based event. As you do so you may be building a new friendship with Christ at the center, or enriching a relationship with someone who needs to deepen their reliance on God.
Jesus specifically commanded us to love God and love those around us (Matthew 22:37-40). Intentional evangelism allows us to reflect on our own relationship with our Heavenly Father and share His promises through caring, thought-filled actions and follow-up with those in need of comfort and hope.
Can you recall a specific ‘God-moment’ in your life where He simply took your breath away? How could you turn this moment into a means for sharing the gospel? Share with us in the comments!
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