"So be careful how you live. Don't live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days." (Ephesians 5:15, 16 NLT)
"The road to hell is paved with good intentions." Harsh, huh? It's not my line, but I won't ever forget hearing that line in a Randy Travis song when I was in college. It is haunting to think of missing opportunities to be a part of what God is doing. So how do I know and seize those chances? One way is to be available.
Being available means being open to being useful for His Kingdom right here on earth, on your street, in your office, at your kids' game...wherever! Have you ever had the stir in your heart about what you ought to do? Have you hesitated or waited because you weren't sure how or what might be the best approach? My friend Kirk, in San Antonio, taught me a quick and easy method to help me get past my fears and respond to the things Jesus is doing all around me.
Pray: The first step is to pray, for your friend, neighbor, relative, business partner or whoever the Lord has placed on your heart. Pray for a way to care for them, to serve them, to be kind to them. If you don't have anyone in mind - pray for the Lord to put someone on your mind or in your path today.
Care: The second step is to serve your friend. When the Lord opens a door for you to care for them, step in to it! It may be that you feed your neighbor's dog while they are out of town, drive their kids to school or take a little time to hear what's going on in their world. Or, it may be bigger and more significant. If you're praying, you'll know!
Share: The third step is the best part. When you pray for these opportunities, the sharing begins to happen in the most natural, conversational way. As a result of you taking the time to pray for and care for others, the Lord opens conversations with them that become more significant and they will ask you about your faith. These moments will slip up on you and the conversations are often very comfortable for you and your friend.
Real Life Example: Prayer-Care-Share Kirk had been praying for his neighbor across the street from his house, but had not had any opportunity to even see the neighbor. You know how it works, the neighbor would pull in at the end of the day and shut the garage behind them. After a run one day, Kirk sat on his curb for a few minutes and prayed for them again, telling God he was frustrated that he had not had a chance to speak with them, much less care for them. As he was saying the prayer, their garage door began to open. The neighbor said hello and then she walked into the street to talk with him. He asked her how things were going and she began to share some difficult struggles. He asked if he could pray for her and she accepted. So, right in the middle of the street, he prayed for her concerns with her. Later that day, she and her husband invited Kirk and his family over to a party for one of their family members. From no relationship, to being invited to a family party, God created an opportunity for Kirk to love his neighbors. While this may be faster than most relationships develop, it is typical of what God does when we pray and we are available.
I have found that having an idea to do something simple like pray for someone and look for a way to care for them takes the pressure off of me. I don't feel like I have to be a one-man Gospel preaching band. Only God can create these moments, so let's just pray, care and be ready to share!