"I'm sorry, Lord. I was sure I heard your voice."
'What do I do now?' Sandi chides herself. Just minutes ago she was excited, no thrilled at the prospect of obeying a divine prompting and doing something for the Kingdom of God. Now she is wondering how to get out of this mess.
"Well, are you coming or not?" asks the stranger Sandi spoke to in her attempt to witness.
'There's no reason to hesitate is there? Lots of men have tattoos and longer hair. Certainly not all of them are on drugs, right?' she thinks.
All she said was, "God loves you," as he walked by.
"Is that right?" he asked, as he sat right down beside her on the park bench without her invitation. "What makes you say that?" he challenged.
Paralyzed at first by the sudden move, Sandi recovered and spit out the words that came to mind. "God loves everyone."
"Everyone?" he asked. "Well, then let me ask you this." He had a mischievous look, more curious than hostile. "Why is God doing such a lousy job convincing people, if it is indeed true that he loves 'everyone'?"
'Oh, Lord, help!' Sandi thought. The guy had asked the very question she struggled with. She'd read just that morning in the Bible that God was not willing that any should perish, but that all should be saved. But, it appeared that many were perishing and it troubled her. So, she'd prayed and asked for help to be a better witness. That was why she had even had the courage to speak to this stranger.
With sincere honesty she said, "I apologize for that and I assure you, God could convince all of us if it was up to him. But, he enlists people to share his love, and many times we are not very convincing."
He studied her keenly. "That's not the answer I expected. So, you told me God loves me because he can't tell me that himself?"
'Steady now,' Sandi cautioned her emotions. 'The guy was asking serious questions. Was she getting through to him?'
"I said it to get your attention. God is showing his love all around us, but until someone points that out, we usually don't realize it."
The mischievous expression returned. "You know what would convince me?"
Warily, Sandi asked, "What?"
"If you would be willing to come with me and tell this to some people I know." He waits for her answer.
Caution flags flutter in her mind, but she can't just say no, can she? Then it comes to her.
"No, not alone. But, if I can bring a friend, ok." Sandi relaxes measurably when the man agrees. She makes a quick call and gets a favorable answer. Derek will be there in fifteen minutes.
While they wait, Sandi tries to get the man to open up a little by asking his name. "Bill," he answers before she gives him her first name. When Derek arrives she introduces them. Then the three take a short stroll, heading toward a store front on an old downtown side street.
During the walk, Bill and Derek quickly enter into a level of conversation usually shared by acquaintances. Derek is a powerful witness and Sandi is glad she thought to call him.
When they are close enough, she reads a sign above the entrance, "Rescue Mission: Find God's love here. Bill Smith - Administrator." 'What is going on?' she wonders. Still, she goes inside boldly because Derek is there.
Inside over fifty people of various ages are finishing a meal. Bill leads through the dining area to a facility office. He closes the door, and then looks at Sandi.
"It's my turn to apologize, Sandi. I could have told you who I am in the park, but I felt prompted not to. I sensed that to do so would have prevented what God wanted to do. Does that make any sense?"
Sandi grins. "It does now. I took a risk by witnessing to you. God kept me safe by letting my first 'stranger' be a believer."
Bill grins back. "I admire your desire to witness. You had good answers to tough questions. Just be careful, ok?"
"Now, would you like to tell those folks out there that God loves them?"
Sandi beams. "I'd love too."
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