About 20 years ago, my pastor preached a sermon called “Who’s in Your Basket?” I’ve never forgotten it! Did you know you have a basket?
His sermon was taken from the book of Acts about Saul. Saul was a beast-to be honest, a Christian hater and killer. After he met Jesus, he was a changed man. He immediately began to preach in the synagogues about this Jesus Who had turned his life around. But, everyone wasn’t thrilled. In fact, there was a conspiracy to kill him. To get away, Saul’s new followers lowered him in a basket over the city wall in the night!
The guys who lowered the basket had no idea what Saul was going to become or that his name would be changed to Paul. They had no clue that he would be one of the greatest evangelists who ever lived. They didn’t know he would stand before kings and share Jesus Christ or that he would write most of the books of the New Testament.
The only thing they knew was that this new brother needed them to hold the rope of the basket to save his life. He couldn’t get out by himself. He needed their help. Saul was “in their basket” not forever but for a short time.
As Christians, we have people in our baskets every day. We don’t know what they will end up doing or becoming…but it’s our job to hold their rope maybe for a moment, or a little longer. I’m not saying they will have to MOVE IN with you…just that God brings people in our lives for us to encourage, pray for, witness to, etc.
A while back, my friend, Tanya, and I went to Sam’s for church supplies. We almost ate in Proctorville, but moseyed on to Huntington. We almost ate there, but then decided to go to the Chick-fil-A in Ashland. We couldn’t find it so we pulled in to another restaurant. When we went in, a hostess asked us to follow her to a table, but just when we got there, she stopped, turned around and yelled in a really loud voice that she was taking us to Mary (name changed). It was weird. Everyone there heard and knew Mary would be taking care of us.
After being seated in a booth on the other side of the room, a young woman came to take our order. We asked her about some items on the menu, and which was better, the Chicken Tortilla Soup or the Potato Soup. Without looking up from her tablet, she grunted, “I don’t know. I don’t eat either one.” We placed our order and Mary left. “She doesn’t love her job,” I thought to myself.
When our food came, I noticed that Mary was wearing a rubber bracelet that had a date on it. (You don’t wear a bracelet with a date unless something big has happened.) I reached up and touched the band asking what it meant. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the next part…
In one breath, Mary said, “My son was killed in a car accident. It was on a road he had never driven before. He was in a hurry and his girlfriend told him to take a short cut. He was 18.” I was shocked! I thought of MY own son that I love so much!
She showed us several pictures of him. It had only been three weeks! I was crying with my hand over my mouth. She left to check her other tables.
We sat in our booth, stunned. I felt my coat pocket. I always carry Bible verses with me but couldn’t find a single one. They were in my other jacket!
I wondered out loud, “What am I going to do?” I knew this was a divine appointment! And then it hit me…I have Bible verses in my heart…and also in my cell phone! I asked Tanya for paper and pen and jotted down some of my favorites: Proverbs 3:5-6 about trusting in the Lord. Then Deuteronomy 31:6: Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid…for the LORD your God goes with you…plus eight other encouraging verses.
When Mary returned, I tried to talk without crying. I told her that we almost ate in Proctorville, then in Huntington, and almost at Chick-fil-A, and even when we came in, we almost ate at someone else’s table. I continued, saying I felt like we had come to her restaurant because we were supposed to meet her. Her eyes were wide as she listened. With tears in my eyes, I handed her the page with all the verses on it, encouraging her to keep them forever. I also cautioned her-even though she didn’t know me – that she had a huge hole in her heart and to be careful what she filled it with. Mary reached out to hug me! We cried together and I promised that we would pray for her.
Tanya gave her our church name and phone number and encouraged her to call if she ever needed to.
We left the restaurant feeling like we had been on a mission. For less than an hour, we knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that God had put a young lady in our basket. Like the guys who held Saul’s rope, we might not ever see her again. But for that time…she was our responsibility.
Think about it…who has God put in YOUR basket? Is there a co-worker, neighbor, cashier, teller or people group that you are supposed to be blessing? Do you notice the opportunities that come into your days? Don’t ever forget, God can use you right where you are!
(I found out later that the Chick-fil-A was just over the hill from where we ate.)
Dawn Reed is a columnist for The Floyd County Times.