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From Barstools to Bermuda
by Francie Snell
6/23/2015 / Short Stories
I didn't plan to stay long when I stepped inside the busy restaurant. The clamor of dinnertime customers filled the room as I made my way to the bar where my sister worked as a bartender.
Joan's eyes lit up with surprise when she saw me. "Hey guys," she boisterously announced to the crowd, "This is my sister, Francie".
My face flushed warm as every eye was on me.
Joan continued her introductions starting with the customer seated at the far end of the bar. "That's Michael," she began, then pointed at each person down the row, "...and that's Rick, that's Julie, ...this is Gary, and that's Stan," then gestured towards the only empty bar stool in the room, directly in front of me.
"Have a seat."
"Okay, thanks, but I can stay only a little while," I said and bellied up to the bar next to the man named Gary.
"So, how's your new job going?" Joan asked as she poured a few glasses full of various mixtures.
"Great! I really like it."
As I began my next sentence, she cut in, "Hey, be right back," then scurried away with full glasses in each hand. "And what can I get you?" I heard her ask from the other end of the room.
Waiting for her return, I was aware that I was under observation. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed Gary's timid glances. He'd look at me, then quickly down at his beer in front of him. He seemed cautious, almost afraid of being caught. After a short while of this behavior, he finally asked, "So, you're Joan's sister huh? You aren't like her are you?"
So many times I had heard that question. I answered. "No, I guess I'm not."
We started chatting, and it wasn't long before I shared with him that I was a Christian. My news didn't seem to cause any noticeable recoil, so I ventured on telling about my church, thinking he might be interested.
Halfway through my next sentence, he interrupted, "You know, I never have understood that religious stuff, and it really doesn't interest me."
With that, he turned to Stan sitting on his left and mumbled something between them. Then, they hunkered down over their beers, like lazy dogs guarding a bone.
My face suddenly grew hot. Religious stuff? How dare he drop me from a conversation that was only beginning to get good. How rude. There was so much I wanted to tell him and I wasn't near ready to let this discussion drop just yet. So I sat a moment considering a different approach.
From somewhere outside myself, a fresh strategy came to mind.
With fresh boldness, I interrupted the two men’s conversation and asked loud enough for everyone at the bar to hear, "Hey, wouldn't you just love to go to Bermuda?"
Both of them looked at me, obviously surprised by my question.
So was I.
I had never been there and knew very little about the place other than pictures I'd seen in magazines. Nevertheless, that's what popped into my mind, so I went with it.
Bobbing their heads with apparent enthusiasm, each of them responded. "Yeah, I'd like to go to Bermuda."
Perhaps they thought I was seriously inviting them.
Encouraged by this, I posed, looking off into the distance. "Yeah," I wistfully sighed, "so would I."
As if I knew what I was talking about, I continued to nod my head with pretend knowledge.
Whimsically I added, "What a paradise, heh?"
Gary appeared as if he was entering into a fog, as if savoring some pleasant scene in his imagination. "Yeah," he murmured.
They both sat, slowly nodding, with the same far-away look.
I continued, "Well, suppose you heard that someone you didn't even know had bought you an all expenses paid trip to go there. Wouldn't you kind of wonder who bought it for you and why?"
They both shot me a curious look as a drum roll played in my mind.
I explained, "Well, that's what Christ did. He arranged for your trip to paradise, and it's all expenses paid. You just need to get your ticket!"
As I wondered where those words came from, Gary and Stan sat silently with pensive expressions, as if the tumblers in a combination lock were falling into place.
After a brief silence, I picked up the conversation and began talking about other things.
Something had changed. Now they seemed more open, even eager to share about themselves. The three of us chatted back and forth, but without any "God talk". I knew the Lord had made his point well enough and didn't need my further, wordy elaboration on a simple message that had already seemed to hit its mark.
A dissertation quoted from Scripture was not what these men were ready to hear. However, a simple analogy about a trip to Bermuda seemed one they could consider.
God had bought them a ticket to paradise. They just needed to know where it came from and how to get it.
I stayed about ten minutes more, mostly listening to what they had to say. I learned a great deal about them during that time. Then I had to go.
"It was good to meet you guys," I said as I slid off the barstool.
"Yeah, same here," Stan said, then Gary, "Yeah, good to meet you too." Both nodded with a smile.
I shook both their hands satisfied our conversation had ended on a good note.
I called out to the other end of the bar, "Hey Joan, I'm gonna get going now, I'll give you a call, okay?"
"Okay, talk to ya later," she said, picking up some empty drink glasses.
I headed out the door, got into my car, and started up the road to my home in the foothills.
As I drove, I felt exhilarated, as if God had used me on a special reconnaissance mission. What a thrill!
It seemed so natural to share about the Lord however brief it was. With a few choice words, I had the privilege to enlighten someone with the beautiful truth of salvation without cramming Jesus down anyone's throat. Perhaps it was a bit unusual, and only but a seed, but I believe it was a message both men understood. Quick and simple.
God met these two men where they were: in the same old bar, drinking the same old beer, and hanging with the same old crowd. Then, He gave them a simple illustration, tailor-made, for their understanding. I prayed that message would echo in their minds and their hearts.
God is so great and caring, and willing to give His plan of salvation wherever we are in life. His love has no boundaries and will reach out to the most reclusive lives with His saving invitation.
I felt honored that He was willing to use me to share His plan with two strangers when I was just stopping to visit my sister. It awakened me to the realization that I need to be ready and waiting for opportunities He has for me, wherever they may be.
"This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all men, the testimony given in its proper time."
1 Timothy 2:3-6 (NIV)
Francie lives in the Sierra Nevada foothills of California with her husband and best friend. She loves the gift of life the Lord has given her and has a passion to write about it... for His glory.
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