We had a fellow come over to give us a quote on blinds at the house this morning. He was very friendly and chatty, and we got to talking about all sorts of things. As he was measuring the windows in my office, he saw the work that was up on my screen – a poster for a prayer breakfast.
“Bible Society? They’d have been around for a while.”
“Yes, it was their bicentenary last year – they’re one of the oldest organisations in Australia,” I said.
“Really? I had no idea they were that old! My dad used to have something to do with them.”
He changed the subject and continued about his work. We talked about him having been a single parent when his children were young. We talked about mum and I having moved from Sydney, and how we were grateful to have enough space to both be at home all day, working, without driving each other nuts. “So what do you do for socialising?” He asked. “You’d have to do something to get out of the house.”
“Oh, I’m in a community band, and we’re involved in our church,” I replied.
“Oh that’s an interesting building.” He told us about the history of the building, how the bricks had been made from clay in the square opposite (which at the time had turned into a rubbish tip), and the story about the lovely Princes Square fountain ending up in Tasmania when it was really built for Launceston in the UK (though that’s apparently an urban myth).
The conversation turned to churches in Tasmania, church buildings, the current proposal to sell off a lot of Anglican church properties to fund redress for child abuse, and how the church was more than the buildings but was actually about the people.
“So…how is it all going at St John’s?” he asked.
“There’s lots happening. We think it’s an exciting time,” mum said.
“I used to go to church. I don’t anymore. I’d say I’m spiritual now, but I don’t go to church. I grew up in the Brethren -”
“So did I!” mum said.
“Oh! Well I don’t have to explain! I was getting ready to go into a whole long thing…”
He had finished up his quote but the three of us stood around on the front step for another 10 minutes talking about church and faith. “Just don’t give up on God,” Mum said.
“No. I haven’t,” he said, looking up at the sky. “It was really great to meet you.”
I shut the door and mum and I just looked at each other. Who’d have thought that getting a quote for blinds would have ended up in talking to someone about their faith?
I wonder if that fellow will have thought about these things on his drive back to town? Maybe it will prompt him to think about what he believes again, to seek out some sort of Christian community and not feel he has to go it alone because he doesn’t fit in the mould of Christianity he grew up in. Sometimes the opportunity to be a light in someone’s life or a stepping stone on their journey comes at an unexpected time. God provides the opportunities, we’ve just got to be ready to take them (1 Peter 3:15). And you don’t necessarily have to beat people over the head with it or sit down and explain Two Ways to Live or anything. You’ve just got to be who you are, not ashamed of the gospel, not ashamed of following Jesus, not afraid to talk about it. God will do the rest.
I’m grateful for that moment this morning.