I should have said something.
I want to share this story with you, because I think it’s as important to share our failures as it is to share our successes. See, I know how important evangelism is. I know how vital it is to share Jesus. It’s something I desire to do so much.
I also just plain suck at it a lot of the time.
I was invited to a euchre tournament by some members of my congregation. They did so specifically so I could rub shoulders with many of their unchurched friends. These are people that don’t have Jesus and need him as badly as I do.
I’d never played euchre before. Never learned the rules, but now it was time. One of the family members suggested an app I could download to learn and play the game. I did so for a week.
And then I came to the party. And everyone’s got a beer in hand. That doesn’t bother me, but I’m not a beer drinker. In fact, with my vertigo, I’ve been staying away from alcohol. Not really a big deal for me; I’m not a heavy drinker anyway. But it does mean I stand out.
And they’re all laughing and being loud. And they’re talking about college football and slinging around names that, frankly, I don’t care about.
Let’s just say that these are not exactly my type of people.
But after a while, the tournament gets started up. I have a great conversation with the girlfriend of one of the players. My wife and I and that woman and her boyfriend are going to get together for board games sometime after Christmas. That’s a great contact, and something far more my speed. Cool.
All night I’ve been introducing myself as “Jon.” I find that when people learn I’m a pastor, they act, well, differently. I like them getting to know me as a person first, and then as a pastor. They let their guard down.
So I’m in the middle of a hand, and one of the women at my table is cursing up a blue streak. That doesn’t really bother me. I’ve worked in factories and pig farms; it’s hard to get under my skin that way, particularly if you’re not one of my church members.
And then my member calls out from across the room, “Hey, Tracy, you know that that’s our pastor?”
And the woman’s eyes get so, so big. She shakes her head, tries to brush it off.
One of the other players says, “You’re going to have to pray for her soul.”
And Tracy looks around, shrugs, and says, “Yeah,well, I’m beyond redemption anyway.”
And I should have said something. It was a perfect opening. Because no one is beyond redemption. No one is so far gone that Jesus hasn’t rescued them. He came for messes. He came for disasters. He came for broken people like me.
It was the perfect launching point to actually talk about spiritual matters.
You know what I did?
I don’t remember. I know I didn’t open a spiritual conversation. I probably brushed it off myself. And we went on with the game.
I’m not sharing this to get sympathy. I’m not sharing it to make excuses.
I’m sharing to tell you: If you mess up opportunities to share Jesus, you’re not alone. You are so not alone. If you kick yourself for not taking advantage of the opportunities the Holy Spirit brings your way, you number among many.
But maybe it’s time for us to start praying:
Not just for opportunities to share Jesus.
Not just for courage to share Jesus.
But also wisdom to share Jesus.
I’m guessing I’ll get another chance with Tracy. I’ve been told I’ll be invited to the next euchre night, and it’s often the same people there. That’s good; I’ll get the chance to talk again.
And I’ll remind her: She’s not beyond redemption. After all, I missed the chance to tell her about Jesus. But Jesus hasn’t kicked me out. He hasn’t thrown up his hands in disappointment at me. He isn’t screaming at me. Instead, he’s redeemed me, a lost and condemned sinner. He’s purchased and won me. I am his, and he doesn’t regret it. I’m not beyond redemption. I’ve been redeemed.
Or maybe I won’t remind her at all. Maybe I’ll be the first to tell her.
And that’ll be pretty cool.