Some years ago, my two children accompanied me to a Christian bookstore so I could spend my birthday money on a new Christian t-shirt. I chose a bright red shirt which featured half of a sentence on the front and the profound remainder of the sentence on the back. My daughter wanted to have a matching shirt. How could I say no to that?! We found an identical shirt in her size and then set about to find a shirt for my son also. His shirt made a different but still profound statement. It was not their birthdays, so we used money from their school clothes budget to make the purchase. My children attended public school, and by wearing their shirts there, they connected with believing schoolmates, as well as addressed questions from those who did not.
Not long after our trip to the store, we had the opportunity to accompany my husband on a trip across the country. He was asked to preach in his uncle’s church 2,112 miles from home. I had no role there other than to support my husband and visit with his side of the family. Or so I thought.
My children and I have flown several times to visit family out of state. As we travel, we wear our Christian t-shirts. We have had the opportunity to share Jesus by doing so. On this particular trip across the country, we donned our newly-purchased shirts and ended up having several interesting encounters. The shirts caught the eyes of many. Sometimes the attention was strictly visual. Other times, it became verbal. Some complimented us. Some told us they believed in Jesus also. And some asked for an explanation of the meaning of the words.
Our trip lasted for six days. During that week, I purchased a watch that soon quit working. On our final day there, we had some free time before heading to the airport and decided to return the watch. There was a slow-moving line of ten people waiting at customer service. My husband and the kids decided to walk around for fifteen minutes while waiting on me.
As I stood there looking around and greeting passers-by, a man in a motorized wheelchair got in line behind me. When I turned to greet him, he responded by asking what Jesus would think of the shirt I was wearing. It seemed time stood still at that moment, and there was nothing but this conversation to tend to. I explained to the man that I am a passionate follower of Jesus. The man replied that he should be more like that. When I asked if he was a believer, he said he wasn’t, but he should be, but he couldn’t be because he had too many questions. I explained that our knowledge and comprehension of God is limited, but we can ask God to reveal Himself to us. I further explained that God had the most important question for him, wondering where he wanted to spend eternity. The man told me he didn’t like it where it was hot (hell), and I responded that the choice was his. The conversation then shifted to the weather and where we lived. I was suddenly called to the service counter where the clerk proceeded to tell me I was in the wrong line and would need to go to the jewelry department. I turned to tell the man goodbye, but he was already with another clerk.
I hurried back to the jewelry counter with only minutes to spare before needing to rejoin my family. I laughed as I told the clerk I had just spent the last ten minutes in the wrong line. She looked at me with a puzzled expression and asked, “Didn’t the clerk at the front door tell you to come straight back here for a jewelry return?” As I told her no, I smiled because I knew God had appointed that time for me to talk to that man. This was about more than temporal time—this was about eternal time.
After finishing in the jewelry department, I quickly walked around looking for the man to at least find out his name, but I never saw him again. To our family and praying friends, he is “The Nashville (insert name of store) Man,” but God knows his very name. Oh, how I long for his salvation. Please join me in praying for him, and remember that people are “watching” you, clothes and all.
“Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside,* redeeming the time. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.”
For “whoever calls upon the name of the LORD shall be saved.”
*”Those who are outside” refers to those who are unbelievers.
Scriptures taken from the New King James Version of the Holy Bible, ©1982 by Thomas Nelson.
©Revised text and photo Francee Strain, October 31, 2021. Original version posted February 29, 2020.