November 2015 Final Issue
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Keep Calm Build Bridges

It was a hot summer afternoon and I had just finished my shift as a short order cook/waitress. I had worked this same job throughout high school and during college breaks when I was home. One last summer course was to be completed before I’d be a college graduate, which was just days away. I was ready to leave New Jersey to start my new job and life in Georgia. Leaving work, I had the strangest thought to go to the local bookstore, a bookstore I had never visited in my twenty-one years of living in the same small town. I had no idea what was going on. This was one of the strangest and strongest inner-urgings I had ever experienced. I felt pressed to get to the bookstore—magnetized even. After parking my used gold Chrysler Sebring convertible in front of the bookstore, I wandered toward the store and began to question why I was there. I had wrestled with that same question many times before in my two short years as a Christian: Why was I hereWhat was my purpose? This day I added another question to the mix: Why was I following this gut feeling? After all, I had never experienced anything like this before. To follow an inner voice telling me to go to a bookstore was foreign to me. Still focused on my questions, I walked to the "religion" section and began sifting through books. After selecting one and examining the cover, I heard a feminine voice behind me ask if there was another copy of the book. As I turned to address her, a message flooded my heart with a powerful intensity. It was as if it was stuck on auto repeat. "Tell her I love her and haven't left her. Tell her I love her and haven’t left her. Tell her I love her and haven't left her." I started to sweat as I negotiated my own level of sanity. Is this why I was here? To deliver this message? Surely it wasn’t. God knew I hadn’t figured this whole “Christian living” thing out. "Tell her I love her and haven't left her. Tell her I love her and haven’t left her. Tell her I love her and haven't left her." Trying to buy some time, I replied, "I don't know, let's go check it out." I led the woman to a more secluded section of the bookstore. "Tell her I love her and haven't left her. Tell her I love her and haven’t left her. Tell her I love her and haven't left her." During the few seconds we walked, I wondered if God was speaking to me. I wondered if I was crazy. I wondered if I was crazy to think God would speak to me. Obviously, this had never happened to me before. I decided to go ahead and tell her what I was thinking. Since I would be leaving my hometown soon, I would probably never see her again anyway. By the time she figured out that I was out of my mind, I’d be in Georgia and would never have to face the shame of another person knowing I was crazy. This would be Georgia’s issue to face. I looked her in the eye and said, “Listen, I’m not crazy. I’m just someone who loves Jesus. I’ve never had this happen to me before, but I believe God wants me to tell you that He loves you and hasn’t left you.” She immediately collapsed into my arms and began sobbing. She told me that she had been wrestling with thoughts of ending her own life. WHOA. I hugged her tightly, relieved that I had obeyed God’s voice and risked appearing crazy. We stayed in the bookstore and talked for a long time. By the time we left, she held a Bible in her hand and was filled with hope. I was in awe. Although I didn’t consider myself one of ‘God’s Varsity Players,’ He had allowed me to be a part of His game plan. He had included me even though I didn’t know a lot of Bible verses and hadn’t really figured out the Christian life yet. Actually, I was living a dual life. Partying one day and following Jesus the next. I felt unworthy and without purpose. All that changed one summer afternoon, when God built a love bridge between two desperate hearts. One woman received the hope she desperately needed, and the other began to understand her purpose. Years later, I have come to understand my purpose is not to be the perfect woman. It is, however, to live (even with my imperfections) for Him, to encourage hearts, and to build bridges. Building bridges is our corporate purpose as Christians. If we keep calm, despite feeling crazy or uncomfortable, God will use us to build bridges to lost and hurting hearts. That’s what Jesus did for me. He built a bridge to my hurting heart and called me friend. The cross represents a sacred bridge from death to life. Because Jesus brought me back to life, I build bridges in gratitude. Building bridges takes courage, commitment, and sacrifice. When you are afraid to share your faith, remember: Keep calm and build a bridge. Don’t build a bridge just to get over it. Build a bridge so that you can get to the person on the other side. Once you close the gap, you’ll discover there may be a precious hurting heart that needs to know that God loves her and hasn’t left her. So if you have a strange desire to visit a bookstore, follow it. You’re not crazy!
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About Steph Fink

Steph Fink
Steph Fink builds bridges in Virginia and wherever her sexy minivan takes her. She has a passion to encourage hearts with practical principles for purposeful and powerful lives in Christ through speaking, writing and blogging. This article is an excerpt from her new book, Building Bridges, to be published in 2014. Steph loves big hair, hugs and cups of coffee and writes about this and more at encouragedinheart.org.

13 comments

  1. I’ve had that happen, that voice inside that seemed to put me on auto-pilot as I did something that I hadn’t initially had any plans. For me, it was help for a friend who was at her wits’ end, and was thinking about hospitalizing her only daughter who was making her crazy. Even though I hadn’t planned it, I took her daughter to my house and kept her for a few days. There was peace in that action, I knew it was divinely inspired. For both of us, it really was amazing to know that Jesus cared enough about our little lives to steer me to her house that day when I didn’t even know she was home to start with.

    I loved reading your story, and so glad that you listened with strength in your heart.

    • WOW. What an AWESOME story, Gwen! Thanks for sharing it and for sheltering your friend’s daughter in your heart and home for a few days – what love and friendship!

  2. Steph- can’t wait to read your new book coming out. I especially love the thought of building bridges is our corporate purpose as Christians. Thanks for that thought during my quiet time this morning.

  3. Melissa, you have so much on your heart and yet you still make my heart smile! 🙂

  4. Love this story – love your bravery and courage, it takes a lot to step out there and be obedient when you don’t know what the other person will do. Thanks for sharing and writing!

  5. You ROCK, my friend! I love the lines “Don’t build a bridge just to get over it. Build a bridge so that you can get to the person on the other side.” What a great life concept!

  6. This really ministered to me. Thank you, Steph!

  7. Love this. Thanks for following your heart. Can not wait to read this book. Love you so much.

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