Last week we were invited to a wedding out in the Argonoth. The village there is about four hours away over a couple of small passes and then across a river. We have done a couple of projects out there and there are several people who have shown interest in listening to the truth. Arwen and I got the boys ready and we headed out about one in the afternoon so that we had plenty of time to get there by the six o'clock start time of the wedding. Only one problem, it rained. All day. When we got into the passes and over the main dam in Gondor there was roadwork that had turned into pure mud, landslides, stuck cars, tractors shoving earth every direction. It was a nightmare. One humorously frustrating thing happened. As we waited for a large landslide to be cleared out the cars behind us started passing us and forming a second lane, then a third, finally a fourth lane was formed waiting for the road to reopen. When the road did finally open we discovered that the cars on the other side had done the same. Two sets of four lanes of traffic converged and no one could get by anyone else. I thought it was pretty funny. Arwen made frustrated hand gestures to the cars trying to pass us on the inside. When it was all said and done we reached Osgilioth about six o'clock and it was dark. We still needed an hour and a half more to reach the Argonoth and there was no way I was going to try and cross that river in the dark in the rain. I had a friend who lived in Osgilioth who I owed a visit to anyway. We stopped by his house and it was dark. It turned out that there was no electricity but he and his family were all there and very happy to see us. We came in and sat down and they began to prepare to feed us. Several neighbors came over and we sat and talked all evening. I was getting frustrated though. I was looking for an opportunity to share truth and it just was not happening. My friend was in and out serving the guests and the guests were talking among themselves except when they wanted to hear a funny story or two from me. The chance to share a Biblical story was not coming and I was concerned that I was somehow missing a good opportunity.
Finally, the neighbors left. Arwen put the boys down in an adjoining room and my friend and I talked into the late night. I was still not really finding an opportunity to share spiritual truth. Then, at 11:30pm he shared some personal struggles he was having at work. He shared about struggles with his boss, ethical issues with his department. He wanted to quit but that would be a breach of contract from his side, making him look bad. Then, at nearly midnight I shared some stories of Jesus. Then just after midnight I shared truth about our Lord and encouraged him to trust in God. He listened and agreed with me. My friend has heard a lot of Gospel over the years and it had never really touched him before. Now, it seemed to resonate, 'I need God in my life.' He did not commit to Jesus right there but for the first time he wanted me to pray for him and he was determined to do it 'God's way' in his decisions at work. I was amazed. It may seem like a small step to some of you but it is the biggest step I have ever seen him make in ten years of knowing him.
We have a saying on our team that says that if you can't spend the night don't bother going. I don't always live by this but this story reminds me of the truth of it. When we spend the night with people we stay past the polite guest phase and hang around for the deep conversation phase of the day. The vast majority of decisions to follow Jesus come after 10 pm. At least, that is what I have heard from those who claim to know. If we are not staying late then we miss the chance to talk to people when they are finally ready to slow down enough to think deeply about life. Let us go and proclaim boldly the truth of God's love, and as long as we are going we should spend the night.