Driving down Brewster today, I was enchanted by all the trees coming into flower. And I marveled again at how beautiful our world is, and how wonderful that God gave us eyes able to see the glorious colors He used in His creation.  What fun it must have been for Him, deciding which bird needed a spot of red here, or some feathers of white there!  But because most trees were today mostly still bare it was also easy to see where some limbs had been removed to make way for telephone lines and power lines. Those poor trees looked unnatural, crippled  while they were still bare and visible.  After all, there had been nothing wrong with those limbs; they were just in the way of something new and good and important, so the tree had to give them up.

Often it’s the same way with folks. Like the way a new mom gives up many hours of freedom in order to care for her baby, whom she adores, and a wise student spends time studying  when he’d much rather be doing something else, because he wants to get good grades. We all have to make choices every day. Choosing between good and not so good can be pretty  easy. But sometimes  it’s hard when we need to choose between what we have always seen as good, and another different good thing.

I’ve found that in my spiritual life, which hopefully is always growing, I’ve often had to give up something and take on something new, usually painfully.

One new thing that we are now being asked to do is to take on our share of five thousand gospel conversations, and for me, that whole idea is hard! See, the thing is that my main motivational spiritual gift, the way I approach almost anything, is really directed toward people who are already believers.  My gift is Exhortation, so I am an encourager, if necessary a corrector, which has little or nothing to do with evangelizing! So I am now supposed to seek out and witness to strangers? Humph.

Preconceived ideas are the very hardest branches to lop off!

So, I wrote my story. We all know our stories, although the idea of finding people and chaining them to a chair and making them listen is somehow beyond my comprehension! But guess what! It’s not that way at all! Let me tell you about a great point Art Baruffi made at a meeting this week. It is this:  that we always have to find a point of connection. Here’s how.

People are usually willing to talk about themselves, and we need to be really good listeners.  Make yourself a list of negative things, hard things, that have happened in your life, and listen for them in what he/she is telling you. When you sense a possible connection, ask questions, be interested, and if it clicks you can then work in how God helped you, and whatever part of your story that fits.  

It can be uncomfortable to try new things. But this is an important one, and it will become more natural every time you do it. And knowing that you are spreading the knowledge of our God and Savior is a wonderful, powerful thing. We can ALL do it, even an unwilling , annoyed eighty-four-year-old woman like me! 

When that tree with chopped-off limbs becomes full of leaves, it will be beautiful again, and ably fulfilling its purpose … to fill our air with new clean oxygen and to provide shade and a home for others of God’s creatures, while also doing the new thing, providing a safe pathway for important utilities.  When we learn and practice the art of connecting with others, telling them what God has done for us and can do for them, we too will be more perfectly filling our role in the Kingdom of God, doing our one small, essential part in bringing others to Christ.

 Norma Stockton

Norma Stockton