A couple of weeks ago I was running on the treadmill at my apartment complex. Since using the treadmill very frequently every week since March, I have been able to get to know my neighbors in a living situation that usually forces people to keep to themselves.
While I was running on one of the two treadmills provided, there was a young teenager walking on the treadmill next to mine. Earbuds were in his ears and I was trying to make contact with him to see if he wanted the remote control to the television.
(It is still running even if it is inside in an air conditioned gym with a television in front of you. That’s the perk of half-marathon training in the summertime.)
The teenager didn’t want the remote and put his earbuds back in his ears and returned to his walk. You know what doesn’t happen when someone has earbuds in his ears? A conversation.
I left after an hour and it bothered me that a connection wasn’t made. I shrugged it off and went on about my evening.
For some time I have been praying for open doors to connect with my neighbors. Admittedly, this is pretty difficult in apartment complex living where residents are more transient, but I have seen the Lord at work. There have been numerous opportunities to build relationships and begin having gospel conversations with my neighbors. This has taken place as I have utilized the workout room, the outdoor grills, and tried to look out for others where I know there is a need.
Friday night of the same week that I encountered the teenager on the treadmill, there was a knock on my door. I’ll be honest – I’m a single, small female that lives alone. I don’t usually answer the door when there is a knock on it unless I know someone is coming over or my ninja skills are ready to attack the would-be-gunman I always fear is on the other side of the door. But, for whatever reason on that particular Friday night, I felt compelled to open the door. Asking, “Who is it?” before I opened the door, I heard, “Neighbor,” in a kid’s voice. I opened the door to find a ten-year-old boy standing on my doorstep.
I asked him if I could help him and he explained he was raising money to buy his school supplies and could he please take out my trash for $2. Honestly, though I don’t spend monies on things I can do myself, my heart broke because I don’t remember ever having to raise my own school supply money while in elementary school.
However, I had just emptied my trash, so I told the young man if he could return the following week, I would have trash that would need to be taken to the dumpster. He had a legal pad with his phone number at the top and asked if he could please write down my name. As he was writing my name down, suddenly another boy appeared. It was the teenager from earlier in the week on the treadmill. I asked if this was his older brother and he said it was his cousin.
Bible study friends have given me monies to use to purchase a gift card to a retail store so this young man can buy his school supplies, but I am grateful for the not one, but TWO lives that can potentially be impacted for the Kingdom of God as the love of Christ is shown not only in deed, but proclaimed in Gospel truth as I am able to build a friendship with these two kids.
I tell this story not to bring glory to myself, but to say that making disciples and impacting the Kingdom of God happens as we live our lives on a daily basis. We have to be intentional about building relationships with our neighbors and building trust with them in order to begin having Gospel conversations.
Jesus tells us in John 14:12, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.” Did you see that? Jesus says that He will do greater works in and through us because He goes to the Father. Jesus also says this in John 5:20 and John 5:36. He says HE will do more through us than He Himself did while He was here on earth. What an incredible and yet humbling promise from the Lord!
Every one of us has things that we do in our every day and we sometimes see the same people every day. Is it the crossing guard or school bus driver that escorts your child across the street or drives him or her to school? Is it the next door neighbor of 10 years that you have never gotten to know? What about that co-worker that might be icy and bitter but you know has been going through a hard time? These are just examples of our everyday lives where the Lord is at work and He desires to do greater things and use YOU to do! What a powerful way to be used in His Kingdom!
The theme of this year’s BSCNC annual meeting is “Greater Things.” We want to see God do greater things in North Carolina – things that we have never seen Him do before. The incredible part, though, is that He wants to use every believer in Jesus Christ – regardless of education, socio-economic background, race, gender, or age – to be a part of the greater works He wants to do! Don’t you want to be a part of that?
Sometimes this might mean doing things that take us away from what we would like to do in order to build relationships. In the fall I would love to run outside and enjoy the fall leaves and cooler temps, and sometimes it is easier to use the George Foreman grill in my kitchen, but how will I engage my neighbors?
Have you spent time praying for God to open your eyes to the greater things and opportunities that He has for you? You never know. Greater things might just come knocking on your door.
The 2014 Annual Meeting of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina is November 10-11 at the Koury Convention Center in Greensboro. More information can be found online at ncannualmeeting.org.