The other day, I arrived at the bus stop where four Asian ladies were indiscriminately passing out New Testament Bibles. When one of the ladies offered me a Bible, I tried to decline. But she was insistent, so I tried to change the subject.
“What church are you with?” I asked.
She said she was with a non-denominational, evangelical church and again offered me a Bible.
“Thanks but I already have one,” I replied.
“That’s okay,” she said, “this one has footnotes. Take it. It’s free.”
The Bible Lady Wins
At this point, I realized there was no sense in telling her that my Bible had footnotes too, and there was no point in trying to decline the Bible. It was going to be easier to take her Bible than to repeatedly turn her down, so I took it and a tract that came with it.
As I stood there with my brand-new Bible, I watched the woman and her three companions walk up to people and shove Bibles into their hands. Quite frankly, they came across as a little fanatical, and I found myself both admiring them and scorning them at the same time.
Those ladies are bold, I thought, but the people who take their Bibles probably aren’t even going to read them. I mean, I sure wasn’t going to read mine. Like I told her, I already had one. She would’ve been better off giving it to someone who actually needed it.
The Bible Wasn’t for Me
When I got home, I put the Bible in our entryway where it sat for a month. Finally, my wife asked me to do something with it.
“You can’t just leave it sitting there,” she said.
So yesterday, I decided to take it with me to work. I figured that on my way, I could leave it in a public area where it might end up with someone who needed it. I walked to my bus stop, but because of a traffic jam, I jumped on a different bus than my regular one. After paying the fare, I sat my briefcase down and opened it to put the Bible inside.
A young mother with two little girls was sitting next to me, and she asked, “Is that a Bible?”
“Yes,” I said.
“Are you giving it away?”
“Yes, I am,” I said, surprised.
“Can I have it?”
“Sure you can,” I said, giving her the Bible. Then I flipped through the pages of a little tract the Asian woman had given me, and it was a guide on how to read your Bible.
“You’ll probably need this too,” I said, handing it to her. Then I asked, “Just curious – are you a Christian?”
“Yeah,” she said, “but not a very good one,” which opened the door to a good conversation in a traffic jam about how Jesus is the only one who can make us good.
A day later, I think back on this Bible exchange and marvel at all the perfect timing required to get it into this young mother’s hands. And it all happened because a fanatical Asian lady was willing to shove a Bible into my hands a few weeks earlier. That lady had no idea what she was doing, but in His sovereign plan, God did.
It’s the Little Things
We have this idea that doing something significant for God requires huge planning, red letters in the sky, a parting of the sea, signs and wonders. But the truth is, He’s working through us in ways we could never arrange on our own.
Maybe it’s something that looks fanatical, like aggressively giving out Bibles; or maybe it’s something mundane, like being friendly to another person on a bus. Regardless, life is full of holy mystery when we walk in faith, recognizing that “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28)