I was listening to my favorite radio show this past week when I heard something that made my heart sink. Two boxes had been placed in the studio: one labeled Heaven, the other Hell. The radio personalities were challenged to write the names of their coworkers on pieces of paper, decide the fate of each person, and place each name in the appropriate box.
The conversation left me unsettled. I understand that it was intended for comedic effect, but for them to be so flippant about their need for a larger Hell box—well, it hurt my heart. The eternity of each person’s soul was put on display to induce laughter, but it brought me to tears.
When I was in college, my parents sat me down for a talk. The conversation went something like, “We’re concerned about Megan, and we think you should be the one to talk to her.”
My sister was difficult and always had been. To be quite honest, there were times when I was a bit afraid of her. She was the stereotypical teenager with an attitude that cost her $20 every time she chose to talk back to my parents. I think that’s the money my parents used to put us through college.
When I really started to chase after the Lord, my sister had a difficult time adjusting to the new me. One night, she came into my room and demanded, “Why can’t you just be normal?” She didn’t understand my desire to spend every available moment getting to know a Heavenly Father I had just begun to build a relationship with.
I was hesitant to talk to my sister but I told my parents I would try. I began to pray that He would give me the words that could possibly change my sister’s heart.
The next weekend, I went to the movies with my sister and best friend. On the drive home, the words began to pour out of me. I don’t remember what I said, but I do remember what my sister heard.
“So, basically, what you’re saying is, Mom and Dad think I’m a heathen and everyone thinks I’m going to Hell.”
Obviously, that’s not what I had said, but that’s what her unchanged heart had interpreted. She slammed the car door and walked into the house—and proceeded to ignore me for an entire week.
At the end of that wretched week of silence, my sister came into my room one evening and quietly asked me, “Sara, will you take pictures of me in the snow?” And just like that, it was as if the conversation had never happened. We were back to being sisters again and even though we never mentioned the conversation, I was praying for my sister daily, hoping the words had begun to stir up something in her heart.
About a month later, I was going to a conference in Dallas that I really wanted my sister to attend. With the promise of a shirt from Abercrombie, she said yes. It was at that conference that my sister stopped me and through tears, whispered, “I want what you have. Can you help me?”
That night, my sister’s heart was changed.
For me, my salvation experience was more of a process. For my sister, it was instantaneous. Her life was transformed, and she hasn’t been the same since.
Because of that conversation in the car, my sister’s name was moved from the Hell box into the one labeled Heaven. But I believe He used me as an instrument in my sister’s conversion not just to change her, but to change me, too. Something happened in my heart that day as well. There is something so sweet about hearing the voice of your Father say, “What do you say—wanna help Me change a life today?”
What if it’s not just about us reaching those who don’t know Him? What if He desires to do a work in us in the process?
Whose heart does He want to use you to help change? In the process, He just might change yours, too.
An ESL teacher for the past 6 years, Sara Anderson feels it is her duty to rid the world of the words “supposably” and “moist.” She once had an unfortunate incident involving a glass of milk and a hairy spider so now she must blow into a glass before pouring a beverage in it. She loves Dave Barnes, Hillsong Live, and Kari Jobe, and when she needs her soul stirred she reads Brennan Manning. In fourth grade, she received an autographed picture of Billy Ray Cyrus, but don’t ask her to show it to you because her friend stole it and Sara never got it back.
*Photo credit: Finding Josephine