The train stopped for the fourth time and the PA speaker buzzed. “Sorry again about the delays but we’ll be stopping outside this station for another ten minutes.” Are you serious? I looked at the time on my phone and my steadily dwindling battery before switching airplane mode on.
I was on my way to meet my cousin for a festival that the blog I work for had sent me to and was running seriously late. I had missed my first train because of track works, putting me 25 minutes behind schedule, then the next train was moving about the same pace as a dying slug. Needless to say, my frustration levels were through the roof. Of course my phone was dying, and to top it off my cousin wasn’t familiar with the area and had no idea where he was going.
All I could think about was the inconvenience of it all. Did they realise that my editor was counting on me and that I didn’t have another night that week to come all the way back out to the other side of the city? Did they realise how jetlagged I was, not having a moment’s rest since arriving back from South Africa three days before? Woe is me, you know how the story goes.
The train didn’t even make it to its destination. At a station called Westall the announcer informed all passengers that there was no point continuing the trip and could everyone just get out now please?
I marched off the train and paced for about five minutes, before I started to feel a little convicted. See only a couple of days prior I had been consumed with Jesus and His plans for my life. I had declared and even written in my journal: My life is about the Father’s business. Only that morning I had had this unbelievable joy at my salvation welling up in my heart.
Cutting through all the anger (because let’s be honest, there was a fair bit) a thought pierced my heart. Am I being a good ambassador for Jesus Christ right now? Look at my heart. It’s disgusting. You could smell my attitude a mile off.
So I made a decision. I sent a text to my cousin telling him where I’d gotten off and sat down on a bench at the edge of the station. I pulled out my bible, flipped open to Psalms and started reading.
The week before I had been at an amazing training time in Johannesburg with churches all across the world and an American lady named Cindy Booth had spoken about the prophetic. She talked about something she liked to call ‘divine happenings’: where Jesus puts you in the right place at the right time and He’s leading you to act. Long forgotten in my frustration was the fact that I had prayed that very morning for a chance to share the gospel and glorify God. Who’s to say He hadn’t allowed these circumstances to happen so that I could be in this very place at this very time?
As I was reading my psalm and trying to calm my frantically beating heart, along came two PSO’s (cops allocated to patrol the station) and asked what I was reading. To say they were taken aback when I said the bible is an understatement.
“Is it a story about King David?” one of them joked (because let’s be honest, Jesus makes a lot of Australians uncomfortable). “No,” I said, “but King David actually did write this psalm.” I went on to explain a little of what the psalm was talking about and what Jesus meant to me.
I’m guessing I said a few things they’d heard before because they seemed to rediscover their comfortable zone and said in a somewhat patronising way, “Oh, well isn’t that nice to have something to believe in. All religions are the same anyway.”
“But not all religions save.” That’s when things got uncomfortable again, but thanks to the courage that a Zambian farmer named Angus Buchan had given to me the previous week, I was encouraged to continue. And political correctness went out the window.
Wait … what? Was their response. I said, “My bible says that Jesus is the only way to God. The Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the father but through Him” (John 14:6).
The same cop said, “That’s really nice that you believe that.”
My inner monologue was saying, Can you stop calling my Jesus nice?
I said, “Truth is truth whether you choose to believe it or not.” I was able to share some more of the gospel with them, as well as a few healing testimonies I’d been told about, including two people being raised from the dead in India two weeks ago. They had no response for that one.
These two lovely men offered their phones as well as walking me over to my cousin when he found the station. I’m a pretty transparent person and mentioned that I’d been frustrated about the train situation but said to them, “But I’m glad this all happened because this way I was able to meet you guys and talk to you.”
So what I’ve learnt from this story is that when a situation doesn’t go as planned, or you are seriously inconvenienced, when the flow of events is interrupted or somehow redirected,
open your eyes.
Look for an opportunity that Jesus might have set up for you. As Cindy said, “Nothing is coincidence when you’re walking with Jesus.” Then an annoying situation can be transformed into a great testimony where you get to glorify Jesus. Because that’s what it’s all about anyway, right?
Lately I’ve been meditating on the scripture, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21, NIV).
If that is really true for us then what is a little inconvenience? A cause for rejoicing if it’s for the sake of the King. Why is it that if an earthly king gave us a mission we’d treat it as an honour but when the King of heaven commissions us it’s suddenly a ‘sacrifice’?
Do I always rejoice in inconvenience? No, of course not. But I think that only serves to show where my heart is.
Luke 6 says, “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45, NIV).
What are we feeding into hearts? If our hearts are filled with Jesus’ grace, then so will our reactions be.