We come in contact with so many people each day that I often forget all the amazing encounters we have. Recently some friends from the States were visiting. As we were out and about with them, we would bump into local friends, and each time, we would share with our visiting friends how we met our new friends. This reminded me of a story about a young lady I met at our local bakery near our house.
The bakery has become our favorite place to buy apple pastries, burek (meat, cheese or vegetable-filled pastries) and catamaran bread. Most of the ladies there are so friendly and willing to only speak to us in Croatian so we can practice the language. One young lady, in particular, stuck out because she didn’t seem to want to spend time in small talk with us. She was a bit closed off, and as much as I greeted her with a smile and asked how she was doing, she was not open to engaging in conversation. I eventually stopped trying to engage her in small talk when she was working. I would go in, order, pay and leave.
Months passed. One day, as I was sitting in a small indoor playground watching Levi, she walked in with her daughter, who is around Levi’s age, and sat beside me. I smiled, greeted her and asked her how she was doing. She was so open and friendly as we spoke about her passions, her spiritual beliefs and how she couldn’t fathom why a family from America would move to Croatia when she couldn’t even build the courage to move a town over. She was born and raised in this small town and couldn’t imagine taking such a significant leap of faith.
I shared with her how our love for Christ and others gives us the courage to move halfway around the world so that we can have the opportunity for conversations such as the one we were having at that very moment. At that moment, her mind seemed to open up to a larger world.
As she shared with me how she was raised Catholic yet didn’t ever feel like she had access to God, I was able to tell her that because Jesus died on the cross, He gave us open access to His Father and ours. Jesus paid it all, so we don’t have to feel like we are constantly working our way to Heaven. I shared that it’s all about what He did and not our works that allow us to have a relationship with Him.
This may be the thousandth time you have heard this, but for this young lady, it was the first. She hung on to every word that came out of my mouth as I shared what felt like such a simple message. At that small playground I was able to share with this bakery worker about the real Bread of Life, and I was reminded that God will use us at any moment, so be ready.