February 15, 2015
"I planted. Apollos watered, but God gave the growth." 1 Corinthians 3:6
I made a decision to follow Jesus November 2008. Before that, I cannot tell you how many times I heard the gospel. What was different about this time? I'm not sure. I guess after all those planted seeds, one eventually began to grow. I got my degree in social work. I used to work as a high school counselor. One of the hardest things for me as a counselor was always when I put in lots of time and effort with students and they ended up getting kicked out of school. Far worse was when they decided to drop out of school on their own. It was always such a huge disappointment for me to see them fail after all the time and effort I put into them.
My first supervisor would often try to encourage me by saying, "Remember you're just planting seeds. This is just a tiny piece of their life. You never know what the future has in store for them." This gave me a bit of hope. I always tried to envision them finding much success after figuring things out. While working at a warehouse sales job in Los Angeles, I was moved next to this gay male. He did not like Christians. He spoke to me once very politely, and then found out I was a Christian and it was like a switch went off.
Not sure what happened, but all exchanges after his discovery of my faith were always awkward and draining. He was constantly rude to me, and I felt like I had to absorb many smacks to the face. I did my best to steer clear of him whenever possible. In an attempt not to provoke him and keep my sanity. So when the boss moved me from one side of the room directly next to him, I knew God was up to something.
I endured his rudeness, and gave him love. It was tough. But I did let most of his rude comments go without a side glance. I felt like I was on the firing squad every time I went to work. I could barely ask a simple question without him biting my head off. Fortunately, I rode the train and bus in to work, so I always arrived 1.5-2 hours before they opened the doors. This gave me plenty of prayer time to prepare my mind. This quiet time with God really helped strengthen me against going off on him, and either hitting him, or saying something that would have been a poor reflection of Christ.
So although I was not a door mat, I endured many of his harsh comments. Rather than dishing them back, I ignored them, or did my best to have a loving attitude through it. I do recall a couple of times when I addressed some very ugly interactions with him. I prayed about those interactions. I asked the Holy Spirit to be present before saying a word. I asked Him to let my words be lead with God's love. And of course, He did.
After those two conversations, my coworker became a little more cordial with me. I remember the day he left. He even said goodbye to me, shook my hand and wished me well. I told him that it had been a pleasure meeting him, and wished the very best for him also. It was a genuine, cordial goodbye. Not one ounce of phoniness was present. I have to say, had he left a month earlier, things may have been different.
I prayed for him every night that month that I sat next to him. I prayed that God would soften his heart, and open his eyes to Him. Though he did not leave that place a Christ follower, God gave me an opportunity to plant a seed. Will he ever become a follower of Jesus? I don't know. But like Paul said in 1 Corinthians 3:6, he planted to seed, Apollos watered it, and God gave the increase. So maybe it was me that planted the seeds for my former coworker. Hopefully after that, someone watered those seeds that were planted. Then, if it is meant for him to become a follower of Jesus, God shall give the increase.