My church does a ladies' Bible study in the park over the summer, complete with childcare for the littles. One hope in meeting at the park is opportunity to be seen and even joined by others.
I arrived early one Tuesday and started chatting up the only other mom on the playground. I mentioned our Bible study, she thought it was neat (especially the childcare!), and we went on to talking about our kids. Ladies from my church started arriving and I decided to take Pookie for a bathroom run before everything started.
As we traipsed to the restrooms, I told the woman I'd been talking with that she was welcome to join us and introduced her to our childcare helpers on the trip back. She got her older kids checked in for their swimming lessons and joined us.
I was feeling pretty proud of myself: inviting a stranger to join us was going out on a limb for me. Boy, I'd done a good job.
The study went well, she referred to various Scriptures as she spoke, and seemed to be doing just fine. Then one study question referenced Hell in a way that a friend of mine didn't understand, so we stopped to discuss it. Several ladies offered wise, biblically-backed explanations of the verse. Our newcomer mentioned she thought it was more allegorical. Someone else brought up Scripture that refuted her idea.
The picnic table got awkwardly quiet.
Whoever was leading the study picked up the pieces and moved on, but our newcomer went quiet. A few minutes later, she started looking past us and bolted from the table, scooped up her toddler, and made a beeline for the pool.
Now...this might have happened because swimming lessons ended and she needed to pick up her kids. But the mad dash struck me. After retrieving her kids, she loaded them in her car, then came over and gave us a quick "Thanks, bye!"
And I couldn't stop thinking about it all day. And eventually the Lord tapped me on the shoulder of my heart: was I holding on to that moment because I felt for that woman...or because I worried what she thought of me?
After all, I had invited her to join us. I had made the small talk, the invitation, the connection. We must be cool, right? But what does she think of me now? Does she think I'm a crazy? The worry went on and on.
I made the entire endeavor about me and how I looked, instead of praising God for the opportunity to talk to someone about Jesus. I worried about how I looked instead of how the truth of the Gospel was presented.
I'll never know just what that woman thought of me, but I do know that I followed the Spirit's prompting in offering the invitation--and since only God can control the outcome, that is all that matters.
Guess I need to keep offering, inviting, speaking up...even if they forever run away.