Eric S. Roecker
I was sitting at the gate, waiting to board my flight, and I was excited. I was flying to Florida for a golf trip with my buddies. I had never been on a golf trip before, and the thought of spending a few days with nothing to do but play golf and enjoy the company of my friends was exhilarating. The fact that I had not seen some of these friends for years made the anticipation even greater.
As I sat thinking of warm, sunny days and lush, green fairways, for some reason I remembered something I had heard a pastor say a few months earlier. He encouraged people to pray dangerously when it came to personal evangelism. He explained that praying dangerously meant to ask the Lord to provide opportunities to tell other people about Jesus—and not just to provide those opportunities to pastors and missionaries but to provide those opportunities to you. It was dangerous, he explained, because God might very well say yes.
Hmm. . . . I thought. I wonder what would happen if I tried that? What if I tried it right here, right now? Like the disciples Jesus sent out, I am his messenger so I decided to pray dangerously. “Lord Jesus,” I prayed silently, “if it is your will, provide me an opportunity to tell someone about you on this flight.”
This prayer was even more dangerous than you might imagine. You see, I do not chat with people on airplanes. It’s not that I’m not a people person. It’s just that I sometimes get motion sickness when flying. So my standard operating procedure is to take a Dramamine about an hour before takeoff, settle down in a window seat, place my head gently but firmly against the wall, and fall fast asleep. It has proven stunningly successful over the years. I am often out cold before we finish taxiing for takeoff and jerk awake as the wheels hammer the runway upon landing. It keeps me from feeling nauseous and makes flights fly by.
As I said, asking the Lord to put me next to a person who had never heard the good news about Jesus was dangerous. What if he said yes? What if I got airsick? What if I fell asleep or was so groggy I couldn’t carry on a conversation?
Forty-five minutes later, I found myself more curious than usual as I walked down the aisle of the plane to locate my assigned seat. Who would be seated next to me? No one, I discovered. The seat next to mine was open.
Well, perhaps the Lord has not seen fit to say yes to my request, I thought with some small sense of relief. I shuffled into my seat, strapped the seatbelt around my waist, tilted my head until it rested on the wall to my right, closed my eyes, and looked forward to two hours of Dramamine-induced slumber. Aaah.
Then I felt a bump. Had someone sat down next to me? I peered through a slightly opened left eyelid. Sure enough, a young woman was just getting settled. I repositioned my eyelid to the closed position to continue my journey to dreamland.
Then I remembered my prayer. What if she was the answer? What if this young woman did not know her Savior and I slept away my opportunity to tell her about him?
With a bit of lazy reluctance still clinging to my heart, I opened my eyes, turned, and said, “Hello!”
“Hi!” She said smartly with a bright smile.
“Are you heading home or vacationing in Florida?”
“I’m actually traveling to see my mother for a much-needed break.”
“Oh! What do you do for a living?”
“I’m an actress in New York.”
“What have you been working on?”
“I’ve spent the last year playing the lead in The Lion King on Broadway.”
“It’s been an amazing experience. But it has also been exhausting. What do you do for a living?”
“I’m a Lutheran pastor.”
“Really!? Wow! I don’t think I’ve ever talked to a pastor before. We didn’t really go to church when I was growing up.”
“So, you don’t know much about the Bible?”
“I don’t know anything about the Bible.”
I probably don’t have to tell you that the hair on my neck stood up as straight as the bristles on a brand-new brush. Here was an answer to a prayer I had silently uttered less than an hour earlier.
I wonder how Jesus’ seventy-two followers felt when he told them that he was sending them out to preach the good news (Luke 10:1-24). Jesus had just instructed them to ask the Lord to send out workers into his harvest field. Then he proceeded to send them. They were the answer to their own prayer! Talk about praying dangerously!
The young actress and I spent the next two hours discussing who God is and how much he loves us and what he did to save us from the sins that separated us from him. She had many perfectly understandable and reasonable questions. She listened carefully and respectfully to the answers I shared from God’s Word. It was wonderful.
I was even able to use The Lion King in our conversation. I mentioned that the theme of the musical was the circle of life, that is, we should take comfort in the fact that dying is just a part of life. “Isn’t it interesting, though,” I concluded, “that at the end of the musical, the little lion’s father who had died shows up in the sky and speaks to his son. Even a musical that claims death is just a part of life could not help but reunite the living with the dead. It’s because we all have an inborn desire to live forever. That is what Jesus’ resurrection gives us.”
As we went our separate ways at the Orlando airport, I told her I would keep her in my prayers and gave her the name of the WELS church in Queens, N.Y., encouraging her to visit.
I have no idea what has happened to her since. But I do know that she heard about her Savior that day. And I have our Lord’s promise that his Word is powerful and effective. This gives me hope that the Holy Spirit found his way into her heart and that, one day, I might meet her again in heaven.
Are you a person of prayer? Do you regularly spend prayer time asking the Lord to send workers into his harvest field? Good. Those prayers are much needed and well-received by our Lord. But, perhaps you might consider adding a new element to your prayer. You might consider praying a bit more dangerously and ask the Savior to send someone who still needs to learn about him to you. How he chooses to answer that prayer is, of course, up to him. It may not be as immediate and dramatic as it was for me that day. Then again, it might.
Are you ready to pray dangerously?
Eric Roecker, the director for WELS Commission on Evangelism, is a member at Pilgrim, Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin.
This is the first article in a three–part series on the story of Jesus sending out his disciples in Luke 10.
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Author: Eric S. Roecker
Volume 106, Number 2
Issue: February 2019
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