A couple of weeks ago, on a Saturday afternoon, while my husband was perusing the shelves of a second hand book shop, I sat on a sofa drinking a very delicious cup of coffee in a nearby café. I was minding my own business, just appreciating a comfortable place to sit, and the taste of the coffee when someone walked in and said, “Hi, Mel.”
I was just too relaxed to make my mind do the mental gymnastics required to put an name to the face. I had an idea, but wasn’t confident enough to say, “Hi, Avril.” What went through my mind was the embarrassment that would follow if it wasn’t Avril but someone else entirely!
“It’s Avril!” the woman continued, “You used to visit me in my house many years ago.”
I had met Avril once since those days some fifteen years ago. The baby she had been bouncing on her knee was in her last year at school and about to be launched into the world of universities and degrees.
I used to go door knocking in those days. I may or may not have carried a clip board and stood on the doorstep. It was rather like fishing. You cast a line with a tasty morsel of an interesting question and waited for them to bite.
Avril bit! She was probably saved, but because she did not say the right formula of words, she was considered not yet “born again” by our kind of church. She probalby didn’t need to be preached at, but I preached anyway. I visited often, played with her kids, collected apples that fell from her tree, borrowed her bike and baby sat. All the while I coached her to say the magic formula!
I look back in horror on my arrogance that I had got it so right and was moving forward in the Lord, and Avril was not because she was not in my kind of church! I have grown up since those days and abandoned my formulas. God cannot be boxed in, and neither can His dealings with His children fit into neat boxes!
I was reminded of this by some words in a book I am reading by Charles Spurgeon.
“God does not make converts as men make steel pens, a gross in a box all alike. Nay, nay, but in each case there is a living man created, and every living man, every living animal, every living plant is somewhat different from every other of its kind. You must not look for uniformity in the work of regeneration.”
It is not just in regeneration that we should not look for uniformity. Throughout our whole walk with God, we may not always travel the same road. The scenery God want to show me is my scenery and may do nothing to stir and challenge you in your walk with God.