Ken Davis, a Christian comedian, tells a humorous story of a Christian who gets on an empty city bus, walks to the rear, and sits down. Lord, he prays, if you want me to speak to someone about you, please give me a sign. At the next stop another passenger gets on, goes all the way to the back and sits right down next to the Christian. “Do you know anything about Jesus?” the passenger asks. The Christian excuses himself for a moment and slowly bows his head once again and prays, Lord, if you really want me to talk to this stranger, I need just one more sign. Please turn the bus driver into an armadillo.
Have you been praying for armadillos?
My wife has a very good friend, who is a fearless evangelist. She sensitively, but passionately tells taxi drivers and wait staff – everyone about Jesus, or asks how she can pray for them. In Jesus words, she sees fields “ripe for harvest” all around her.
So, here’s the question; should all Christians be like that?
Here’s my short answer – not necessarily.
I’m one of the local leaders of the New Canaan Society in Grand Rapids, a mentoring ministry to men. A few weeks ago, we had a dozen young men, most of whom are still indifferent to God, over to my house for a meal and discussion on the topic of engineering a more purposeful life.
Two of the young men coach high school teams in an upscale community nearby. I asked them what the most challenging part of their job was. They looked at each other and almost simultaneously blurted out, “Kids screwed up by their parents!” I pressed them to elaborate on their assertion.
If you have a family member or friend in some kind of 12 Step Program and they’ve not yet found freedom from their addiction, you may find this story helpful.
A few weeks ago, I was sitting outdoors on a sunny, crisp fall day, having a cup of coffee with John, a young man who’s been in and out of rehab for years. John is good looking, intelligent, charming and an alcoholic. He grew up in a Christian family so he knows about God – he even says he “believes in God.” However, there’s not much evidence he’s serious about following Jesus. Nevertheless, it’s to this higher power that he prays, but apparently without much success. And he doesn’t know why. “Why doesn’t God deliver me from this addiction?” he asks.
I told him the story of a close friend of mine, who was in rehab in California years ago. Everyone in their group was asked to describe their higher power. One man said that his higher power was the color yellow!
In our years of counseling couples and families, we have encountered this challenging scenario many times:
Wife: “I would forgive him if he would just apologize.”
Husband: “I did apologize. I said I was sorry.”
Wife: “That’s not an apology.”
In the husband’s mind, he apologized; in the wife’s mind, he did not. Does this sound familiar? Have your apologies to your spouse and children fallen flat? Do the apologies of the people in your family connect with your heart and motivate you to forgive? Or do they seem to seldom apologize? What are your children learning through your words and actions about what it means to apologize?
After two years of research, we have discovered that people have different apology languages. A person may apologize sincerely, and yet, the apology is not perceived as sincere because it’s spoken in a different language. Consider these five distinct languages of apology: