Sometimes, pastors look at the “big talks” in the
Bible—those blockbuster moments where hundreds turn to worship
God—and the thought, If only . . . skulks into our minds. In
those blockbuster moments, God intervenes in big, on-the-spot ways,
regardless of our “job performance.” God’s man can do
everything right, or everything wrong, and the Lord works the same.
Take Peter at Pentecost. The apostle’s rhetoric soared; his clarity
and logic were impeccable! Peter did everything right, and God worked. But
what about Jonah headed to Tarshish? Jonah did everything wrong,
lurking below deck and defiantly running from God. Yet in spite of
Jonah, a crew of rough-and-tumble pagan sailors came to faith in the God of
Creation. If only . . . indeed!
As believers, we can all find ourselves thinking that way, tiring of
day-to-day faithfulness and wishing for God to do something. We
grow weary of “small talk.” But often, God does spectacular
work on our ordinary days—one conversation, one cup of coffee, one
troubled soul at a time. At least, that’s the story in the United
Europe’s golden age of revival has passed. We look forward to our
next Great Awakening, but for now, the British Lion’s Christian soul
dozes . . . and many in the corridors of power are keen not to disturb it.
That doesn’t mean God isn’t at work! The miraculous harvest of
“small talk” at Insight for Living United Kingdom convinces me
that He’s constantly at work.
He’s at work in London in Sharon, who years ago sent me a cautious
e-mail. Her church had some seriously legalistic authority issues, and she
feared she would be reprimanded for asking questions that were bothering
her—questions about what the Bible actually says. She might
have been afraid that I, too, would tell her off! But gently, over a long
correspondence, she discovered that the Scriptures can not only be
understood; they can be trusted. Now she’s a confident student of
biblical truth. In fact, she’s often invited to speak at various
places! And she still gets in touch to run ideas by me.
E-mail by e-mail, God is at work.
He’s at work in Rosemary. A medical missionary in Peru in the early
80s, Rosemary told me with a twinkle in her eye that Chuck Swindoll saved
her life! While in Peru, she had picked up tuberculosis. The mission doctor
prescribed a long course of medicine and rest. But headstrong, Rosemary was
determined to keep going. Then one day when she was very weak, she heard a
preacher via shortwave radio say that a doctor’s wisdom and training
are part of God’s grace, so we should pay attention to doctors! That
preacher was Chuck. It was as if Insight for Living Ministries’
fledgling broadcast had been beamed into South America specifically to
bring a stubborn nurse to her senses! More than 20 years later, Rosemary
has been vigorously active in the Pastoral Care team at our home church.
She still recounts the day Chuck applied the Scriptures directly to her
Broadcast by broadcast, God is at work.
The signs of His work are all over Victor and Violetta too. Violetta, a
young Lithuanian, had been our waitress when my wife, Rosie, and I stopped
at a café for a quick bite before I was to speak at a nearby church.
We struck up a conversation, and I left her a business card. One day
Violetta called, saying she had a “big problem” she needed to
talk about in person. Growing up in Lithuania had made her wary of public
phones, so I was left with “big problem” and no details—a
pastor’s nightmare! We arranged a rendezvous in London. She brought
her “big problem” with her. It was Victor, her fiancé.
Actually, Victor wasn’t the problem at all. The “big
problem” was that Victor had become a Christian at a youth camp in
Latvia, but he had not yet been baptized. They didn’t want to get
married until Victor had been baptized, but they didn’t know anyone
they trusted . . . Could I arrange a baptism? I wish every pastor’s
big problems were like Victor. If only . . . !
Encounter by encounter, God is at work.
Make no mistake—the British Lion’s Christian soul may slumber,
but God is wide-awake, hard at work in the U.K. . . . and around the world. How is He working through the “small
talk” of YOUR days?