I stepped out into the bright, warm sunlight after a few a few hours of listening and challenge in the San Jose convention center. Could I really do this? Live the call? Vive el llamado?
This was the third day of the 2007 Mennonite Convention, and the youth (and I) were being challenged to daily tune-in to God and follow God’s leading and call even if (fill in the blank). We were apprised that as we open ourselves to God, opportunities for caring, sharing, and loving in the name of Christ would be presented. “Lord,” I prayed. “Help me to follow, even if…”
The short path back to my hotel took me through a small park where people from many walks of life, both affluent and homeless, congregated. I nodded and smiled as I strode past people, making eye contact and offering a greeting.
“Miss, Miss, can I talk to you?” a young man on a bench stood up and approached me.
I breathed a silent prayer. “OK, Lord. Here we go!”
I sat down on a bench with Azmi, a young man from Turkey who had been in the U.S for about 7 years, and he began by asking me questions. Who were these friendly, smiling people who were walking through the park this week? They seemed kind. They were friendly. They seemed different. He said he was a fighter and a “tough guy” although you wouldn’t know that from his quiet speech and sincerity, but his physique and tattoos, one of which was the American flag, corroborated his story. Becoming an American citizen was his dream, but being from Turkey he was greeted with suspicion and rudeness. We talked for 30 or 40 minutes, and we concluded by praying together. I’m not sure if this conversation was helpful to Azmi, but this experience taught me several things: truth was being spoken at the convention; God’s “call” is a daily occurrence; I have to choose if I’m going to trust, be open, and be obedient to our Creator. In a sermon I preached some time ago, I encouraged the congregation (and myself) to begin each day with a prayer something like this:
“Lord, today is a new day. Help me to pay attention to your plan. Help me to let go of my distractions to truly see people with your heart. In fact, I will be looking for your plan today. Expectant. Waiting. I will expect interruptions. Grant me courage to act. Grant me patience to step into your plan even if it messes up the timing of my plans. Let me do the small things with great love that you have planned for me today with an an attitude in which others will see YOU in me.”