It was Saturday morning and I had the morning open; something that rarely happens, and the next few weeks were booked. Cathy was scheduled to have breakfast at our house with her sisters so I decided to get together with a friend for breakfast.
Nothing was urgent or planned for the gathering. Because of a scheduling conflict, I was unable to make his annual ministry update luncheon the month before, so we simply wanted to get together to share a meal and catch up on each other’s lives. Also, he had just celebrated one year as a married man, and I wanted to find out how married life was going.
As we ate, we updated each other on our home life, church life, and ministries.
We both play hockey so we shared stories about our past season as well as stories about people we knew who played hockey professionally; or who were now retired.
Because of the proximity to the other tables, at some point I noticed others listening (eaves dropping) on our conversation. It was then that I somewhat directed the conversation and asked questions and made comments pertaining to pro players (current and retired) that we both knew.
In fact, from that point on, for a higher percentage of the conversation I lived vicariously through some of his stories about hockey.
We talked about who we wanted to win the Stanley Cup now that the MN Wild was out of the playoffs. We spoke of seasons past and current and (potential) futures. We spoke about hockey chapels and hockey camps and the hockey expo and; did I mention, hockey…
We finished our meal and continued the conversation outside until we parted ways to continue with our day.
As I was driving to my next destination, the Spirit of God spoke to my spirit about the breakfast conversation that had just taken place and I heard (not audibly) the statement deep in my spirit; “You presented the wrong god”.
Yes, we had spoken of ministry and our churches and our walk with the Lord. In fact, he had shared with me a story about a friend of his who had given his life to the Lord. We shared scripture passages that had meaning for each of us at this season in each of our lives.
But I realized that I had spent a larger portion of the breakfast talking about hockey (small g) instead of the Lord (large G).
The thought came to me that if asked, would the other patrons sitting next to me know from the conversation that Jesus Christ was the most important thing in our lives; or would they simply have understood that we liked hockey?
Had I used the conversation to be a benefit to those around me? Had I taken the opportunity to present my love for Jesus or my love for hockey?
No, I had used my time with my friend presenting the wrong god to those around me.
I am healthy enough to realize that it wasn’t wrong for us to talk so much about something that we both find enjoyment in; especially since his ministry is to hockey players through camps and chapels.
In fact the Apostle Paul wrote;
“I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.” (See 1 Corinthians 9:19-23)
But my drive to my next destination that day gave me ample time to at least ponder how I could have better used my time at breakfast. I thought about how many other times I have done a similar thing talking about the other “gods” in my life; instead of the One who is most important to me.
I thought about a time in 1994 when a simple two hour trip to a hospital with one of my mentors, Dan Hilts, had eternal consequences. He had invited me to accompany him to pray for someone who was in the hospital.
From the time we got out of his car until the time we got back in it to go home, I observed how Dan was used to share the Good News to all we met. This included the bedside of the person we went to see, to a conversation in the elevator which led us to pray with a concerned mom who asked us to come with her to pray for her son. We said; ‘yes’ and followed her to his room.
After we prayed with him for healing, he said that he wanted to pray to receive salvation through Jesus Christ. He asked because Dan was willing to use our two hours together talking about the RIGHT God.