I glanced at the hand as it stretched forward. I had just a few minutes to spare that afternoon and needed to reach the USF Student Center quickly.
A throng of people mulled around in the courtyard, and the feminine fingers pointing paper in my direction created an unwanted distraction.
“No thanks.” I pasted on a light smile and looked from the outstretched hand to her face.
Not as young as I assumed, she was probably a year or two past 25. She wore khaki capris with jeweled high heels and a dressy tank top, her dark hair held back in a bun that was a neater version than my own messy up-do.
Her eyes were dark and direct as they bored into mine. “Here. Take this.”
Her tone was strong, and my smile disappeared as I retrieved the small flyer. I was five feet past the young woman before the word, “Scientology” caught my eye on the colorful tract.
Images of Tom Cruise jumping on furniture and John Travolta’s perpetually smiling face came to mind. We lived in Tampa the first 6 ½ years of our marriage, across the street from USF and Busch Gardens, and I knew there was a large Church of Scientology nearby.
Years ago we had Scientologists knock on the door of our first home, businesslike and serious, offering tracts explaining what they believe. Even after politely declining and telling them I was a Christian, they insisted. After closing the door, I clearly remember squinting in confusion as I read the strange verbiage about strict hand-washing and the evils of psychiatric drugs.
I’m not writing this to bad-mouth Scientology or any other religion. I’m grateful we live in a country where – for the most part – we can still worship as we please. What struck me that day at USF was the young woman’s determination. Either she was a good actress or she truly, deeply believed in the material she was handing me.
Her strong belief in Scientology compelled her to hand me the tract.
“For the love of Christ compels us…” ~ 2 Corinthians 5:14
As I drove home that afternoon, lifting my current circumstances up in prayer, I was filled with assurance that my strong Refuge and Redeemer heard each word. As I gave Him my daily worries, handed over the unknown factors plaguing my life, and shared the bittersweet emotion about my five-year old going to kindergarten, the young woman’s words chased their way back into my mind.
“Here, take this.”
“Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us; we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.” ~ 2 Corinthians 5:20
Was I that determined to share what – Who – I believe in? Was my faith strong enough to withstand a mocking look – or full-on rejection? I believe so. Jesus means that much to me, and His love has made my life.
Scratch that. He IS my life.
How can I not hand that out to others?
Oswald Chambers wrote of Christ-followers, “We are not saved only to be instruments for God, but to be His sons and daughters. He does not turn us into spiritual agents but into spiritual messengers, and the message must be part of us.”
I hope that my life – whether through my writing or through whatever means the Lord gives me to use for Him – is like that young woman’s hand, reaching with determination into an unknown place. Offering Life. I want to hand out the love, grace, and mercy Jesus has freely, abundantly given me.
I pray I’m able to say to others who don’t know my Savior, “Here, take this.”