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At first, Susan was just another neighbor.
She lived a couple of streets over and we became acquainted when her son Philip and my youngest son Aaron became fast friends.
I remember thinking Susan was way too perfect.
She had a short, smart haircut and a cute preppy style. She always looked put together and squeaky clean. That was quite a feat considering she had two small children running around with four messy hands and twenty sticky fingers.
The thing that bugged me most though, was her house.
Nothing, I mean NOT. A. THING. was out of place.
Day or night!
It was perpetually pristine. I know this because I popped in on her at odd times, hoping to catch her off guard with her house in disarray.
But it never was.
Still, there was something missing …
Susan seemed to have a wall up a million miles high and as many miles wide.
One day at Christmastime we met for lunch without the kids. After our usual chit-chat, the subject of beliefs came up. Susan told me she had never been to church.
Wow, I don’t think I had ever met anyone who hadn’t been to church.
Before I could stop myself, words started tumbling from my mouth. I told Susan the whole gospel story from the virgin birth to Jesus’ resurrection and explained how God sent Jesus to save us from our sins.
I have say, listening to myself tell this story, I thought, if I wasn’t a believer, I’d think this was the most ridiculous story I’d ever heard.
You see, it was my first time.
Sure, I had answered friends questions, filling in blanks and giving my testimony, but I’d never told God’s redemptive story from the beginning to glorious end.
That is, until that day.
When I got through, I looked at Susan, and she stared back at me like a deer caught in headlights.
I thought, uh oh, I blew it, but then she said,
“That’s the first time I’ve heard about Jesus.”
I was shocked …
How could a young, all-American mom live out 30 years of her life and never hear about Jesus?
I went home happy about our conversation but still believing she thought I was a total nut case. Regardless I prayed daily for God to grow the seed He allowed me to plant.
Not too many days after our lunch our lives seemed to go in opposite directions. Our children went to different schools and participated in different sports, none of them overlapping. Suddenly our paths didn’t cross anymore.
I continued to pray for Susan, that God would bring someone into her life to water the faith seeds planted.
God was faithful and brought Kim, a mutual friend, into Susan’s life.
Within a year Susan’s husband was transferred. They sold their house in record time (of course, because it looked perfect and nothing was ever out of place) and they were off to a new adventure in Ohio.
Kim kept in touch with Susan better than me.
A year had flown by when I received a disturbing phone call from Kim about Susan’s son Philip. He had contracted meningitis. They had mistaken it for the flu and he was now lying in a hospital bed, near death. I was asked to pray, and immediately got a prayer chain going.
I was able to speak with Susan several times during the long ordeal of Philip’s illness. The gory details of what this disease was doing to his little body was hard to take. Her family had started going to a nearby church and though they hadn’t joined she talked with amazement at the love she felt from the members and how they rallied around her family, meeting their every need before she asked.
It was then I felt God impressing upon my heart to inquire whether Susan had asked Jesus to be her Lord. If there was ever a time for a Savior, it was now.
I nervously penned a letter to Susan …
Spilling my guts, I explained the gospel message again and asked her to accept Jesus as her Savior.
Weeks passed. I spoke with her a couple of times catching up on Philip’s rehabilitation but she never mentioned the letter.
I didn’t either.
I felt stupid.
Should I have even sent it?
I prayed fervently to God,
“I know I’m just the seed planter but please allow me to know that Susan is yours.”
Another year passed. Christmas cards were exchanged. Philip had made a miraculous recovery. There were no signs left of the meningitis that had ravished his body and threatened his life.
Then one day, out of the blue, Susan called. It was wonderful to hear her cheerful voice. We did the small talk thing and caught up but I wondered why she really phoned.
The words she spoke next moved me to tears as they still do even as I write them now.
She said, “I wanted to call you today because I joined our church and they asked me give my testimony.”
She paused, then continued.
“I told them the first time I heard about Jesus was the day I had lunch with you. Thank you.”
My prayer was answered. The phone call confirmed it.
We may never know this side of heaven …
the impact we might have on someone’s life, by the words we use or the stories we tell. This time I did.
And I’m grateful.
Who lives two streets down from you? Who lives next door? Is it the all-American girl, the one that looks like she has it all together? The perfect life? Well, maybe she does or maybe there’s something missing. And maybe God’s calling you to supply the missing piece.
Will you go?
Will you be somebody’s first time?
“He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation’.”
– Mark 16:15 –
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