This week, I went into a professional office for some things I needed. The owner was out of town but his wife was able to help me. We got into a conversation about college teams, as she went to Oregon State and her husband was a University of Oregon graduate. She joked about her school being looked down upon by the U of O people. But she was really bothered about it. She lamented other inequities, which led to several other pet topics of hers—the work ethic of today’s youth, elitism, inefficient government, etc. I had the feeling that she doesn’t have much opportunity to discuss these issues with people who’ll listen.
So I listened, with an occasional comment. Yes, sometimes I’m too good of a listener. Her husband apparently discounts her concerns; after all, Oregon is our state’s so-called “elite” university, so he doesn’t see any problem. While she’s talking, I’m silently asking, Dear God, why am I hearing all this stuff?
Have you ever wondered why you find yourself on the receiving end of someone else’s soapbox speech? Much of the time, these encounters are so boring, you look for a way to disappear. I will say that this lady was articulate, and that I agreed with most of her positions on the issues … Yes, from time to time, I have felt that this wonderful country of ours is running off the cliff. And yes, there’s so much that needs changing … It’s too bad we don’t have real leaders to take us to a better world …
Yes, we all have been on one side or the other of such conversations. I felt like my discussion with this woman was going nowhere; that she just wanted to vent. I’ve found the best way to bring reality to the conversation is to ask, “So what’s your plan?”
She stopped talking … I gently suggested that she align herself with the means to change her world. She gave me a mystified look. I said, “Why don’t you ask God what he would have you do?”
She blinked but she listened. I told her that God had great plans for her life and quoted a couple verses to back that up. I asked where she was in relation to Jesus and she said something to the effect that she was “religious.” I perceived she probably figured that was good enough but that she wasn’t sure. I talked some more about God caring about these problems as much as we do. She acted like that was a totally new concept.
We parted almost as old friends. I mentioned that I might have a book she’d be interested in.
Too often, I grumble about the way things are. I, too, need to lift my eyes above my shoe tops. God has many purposes for our lives. Jesus proclaimed one, just before he ascended to heaven. He told his followers that “you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you … and you shall be my witnesses …”
Simple enough. Be a witness to what we know. The world is waiting to hear us proclaim it—in whatever setting he puts us in. What group of grumblers will you confront this next week?