From Chris Adams: As a leader, do you only consider the formal ministry assignments as most important in your daily life? My friend and women’s leader, Shirley Moses, challenges us to look at ministry a little differently as you follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit. Read her recent encounter with a woman that was definitely God’s ministry assignment for her on this day.
By Shirley Moses
I’m always excited when I have an encounter with another woman who desperately needs Jesus. Today was such a day. I stopped at the jewelry counter in my favorite department store. A beautiful dark-haired woman was admiring the displays as well. As I watched her, I began to be drawn to her by the Holy Spirit. We started chatting about each piece she tried on, a necklace, then a bracelet, then a ring, and finally, earrings. She looked at the cashier and said, “I’ll take all of these.” A closer look at her face showed me she was dealing with a deep hurt.
I remembered a story in Acts. “An angel of the Lord” told Philip the evangelist to go down a “desert road” (Acts 8:27). In obedience “he rose and went” and along the way he met a court official to the queen of the Ethiopians. God had prepared the official’s heart to receive His message. The Holy Spirit said to Philip, “Go up and join this chariot.” Please place this in your heart and mind. The Holy Spirit will place us at the right time to share Jesus Christ with the right person. He leads, guides, opens, and closes doors at just the right moment.
I said to the woman, “Don’t I know you? Your face looks very familiar.” As we continued our exchange, we realized she’d been one of the nurses at the hospital my mother stayed in for such a long time before she went to be with Jesus. God can make it such a small world, can’t He?
I could tell there was fresh, deep hurt in this woman’s spirit. Finally she told me, “I came in here to celebrate my divorce today.” She continued, “I will be buying whatever I want on this credit card until my ex-husband closes the account. Since he’s the one who wants this divorce, it’s going to cost him.” There was the hurt I had seen in her eyes. Without any prompting from me, she had begun to pour out her heart.
I was trying my best to follow the lead of the Holy Spirit, and surprisingly, my response was not my usual, “Come to my church,” or “Jesus knows how you are hurting,” or so many other things I have said in the past. This time was different. It was all I could do to contain my emotions, but I knew in my heart the Holy Spirit was directing me to just listen. I did that, as I prayed to God to allow our paths to cross another time.
When we parted I simply said, “Please try to keep your chin up, no matter what.” Although those words sounded so empty to me, I knew they were straight from the Holy Sprit’s leading. That is not a phrase I would normally have used in such a situation. She smiled and thanked me, and we parted company.
To tell the truth, I wanted to jump right in and ask her if she knew Jesus, but the Spirit led me to just listen. The friend who was shopping with me had stood quietly by during this entire exchange. She told me, “I can’t believe you didn’t ask that lady to Sunday School and present the entire plan of salvation before she left.” That was simply not God’s direction for the day.
When was the last time you felt the leading of the Holy Spirit? Did you follow the leading, or did you follow your training and your emotions? Do you go through life at a fast pace, or do you walk slowly through the crowd, expecting Jesus to draw someone to you?
Never be shy of encountering strangers in such situations, but look for opportunities to be led by the Spirit.
Shirley Moses is an author, speaker, women’s ministry team Advisor at Hagerman Baptist Church in Sherman, Texas, and founder of Beyond the Call Ministries. Formerly she served as the women’s ministry consultant for the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. She also serves currently as a LifeWay ministry multiplier, helping train women’s ministry leaders across the country. Shirley contributed to LifeWay’s leadership book, Transformed Lives: Taking Women’s Ministry to the Next Level and is co-author of Heart Friends: Beginning and Maintaining a Small Accountability Group. Shirley has completed her advanced certificate of women’s ministry at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.