downloadLast week a thunderstorm with strong winds and hail rolled through the area where we live Northwest of Minneapolis. My sister and brother-in-law lost a few trees in their yard, including a large willow tree that barely missed their house. Many roads became littered with branches and fences that were blown into the street, and power was out for over 100,000 homes. We were fortunate to have no power outage or fallen trees on our property but wondered about potential damage to our house from the hailstorm.

A day after the storm a man knocked on our door and offered to have his company inspect our roof for hail damage. We agreed, and the next day a young woman, Angie (not her real name), showed up with a ladder and started climbing to our rooftop. I also went up on the roof to ensure that she was safe and to oversee her inspection work. After a while, I climbed back down and waited for her on the sidewalk in front of our house.  After she discussed her findings she asked what I did for a living, and I replied, “I’m a worship pastor.”

What she said next took me a little by surprise. “I have a prayer request,” she began, and then told me that the father of her two children committed suicide a few months ago. Angie continued, sharing that a few days ago the mother of the deceased man called her and accused her of being responsible for his death.  She then asked me to keep her and her children in my prayers. I saw a deep sadness in her eyes.

My heart was filled with compassion— I mean, REALLY filled with GOD’S compassion for this person. I quickly and silently asked the Holy Spirit to give me HIS words to speak to this woman He put in front of me. More than words, I knew God wanted Angie to experience His grace in her life.

“I’m so sorry to hear about your loss” I began.  We talked for several minutes, and I asked a few questions. “How are you doing?” “How are your kids? “ “Are your family and friends walking with you through this?” “Do you have a church home?” “Is your church supporting and loving you through this time?” I listened as she poured out her heart. Finally, I asked her,  “Do you have a Christian counselor who is helping you navigate through this?” and then suggested a Christian counselor I know who has worked with people in similar situations.

Angie then asked me about my church and my faith, so I briefly told my story, which included a religious background similar to hers.  I shared that I have known people who took their life, and witnessed the heartache of the people who were left behind. I shared how I made my own choice to follow Christ with my whole life and being, and how His presence within has made all the difference.  I told her a little about my church and invited her to come and visit.  The words I spoke were authentic and heartfelt— not some formulaic, memorized speech—because God was filling me with HIS presence, and giving me a glimpse of his compassion for this young woman.

I promised Angie I would pray for her, and asked if I could start right now. She said yes, and we prayed together on the front sidewalk of our house. After the prayer, I told her that I strongly sensed God ‘s desire to tell her of His deep love for her, and how He wants her to cast the burdens of her life on Him and allow Him to carry her.

After she had left, I felt a deep sense of awe and love for God, who used me for a few moments to speak into someone’s life. This story is not intended as a “pat on my back” moment, but a testament to God for providing words and compassion for the people He places in our path.  There’s something very special about the times when God sends us to tell someone about His love and plan. Paul once wrote about this:

“…how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
Romans 10:15

Believe me, there have been many times when I didn’t follow God’s prompts, and through those missteps, I have learned to trust God more and move as He leads. God continues to teach me that the rubber meets the road in a life of worship by the way we demonstrate His love—including listening to people He puts in our life, telling them what God has done for us, and presenting the Good News of Jesus Christ.

So, I humbly ask you to remember this young woman in your prayers.  And be ready to respond to God when he places an Angie in your life.

My new book “The Isaiah Encounter ” is now available at Barnes and Noble! Click here to see it!

I appreciate your support in reading this blog and ask for your help in getting the word out about this book!

God bless you!

Chris Atkins