You want me to do what?
Standing in the jam-packed, sweaty New York City subway, hanging on to a pole for dear life—while simultaneously trying not to fall on anyone—God decides here of all places to ask me to do something uncomfortable.
“I said, tell her I love her.” The response was crystal clear.
I knew this was God and not my idea because everyone knows there are certain unspoken rules of the NY subway. And, I was about to break all of them...
1) Don’t make eye contact with anyone
2) Mind your own business
3) Definitely don’t speak to anyone
4) Keep your hands to yourself
Translation: I would not come up with this outrageous plan to break the subway rules and quite possibly get not only embarrassed but hurt. Here I was, already violating one and two, and now God was pushing me to go ahead and break rule number three. As I stood there trying my darndest to balance myself, a crowd of people had rushed in, and one young lady took a seat. I noticed her right away, fiddling with her engagement ring and crying. I watched as tears streamed down her cheeks, but no one acknowledged her.
I don’t know if it was the southern girl in me, the extreme extrovert, or my slightly rebellious nature, but I sensed I was about to disregard the ‘subway rules.’ I could feel the compassion of Jesus welling up inside me, and I didn’t care what the “no- nos” of the subway were, I was about to cross the line. This is one of the reasons it is so important to spend time with the Lord and let Him fill your heart with His love. The more we’re with Him, the more we become like Him. So, not only did I know He was telling me to give her a message of His love, I could actually feel His love for her.
This is the difference between knowing and experiencing. Knowing about God in your mind is not the same as experiencing His power in your heart. Encountering the love of God literally transforms our hearts. I sensed this supernatural love was not originating from me because I didn’t know this girl at all—but at that moment, it felt like I had known her all my life; You know why I felt this way about a stranger? While I had never met her, God had. He’s known this girl her whole life, and as a vessel of His love, He was pouring His heart for her into mine. This is how we can minister to those we don’t know; we don’t rely on our experience with them, we rely on His.
To be truthful, I didn’t say yes immediately. I saw this girl in her pain and wanted to act, but the flesh told me not to. Thoughts like: What will others think? What is going to happen if I do? This girl might actually punch me—I mean this is New York City, flooded my mind and chipped away at my confidence. But another phrase interrupted these thoughts:
“Tell her I love her.” The directive of the Spirit and the feeling of His love would not go away.
The conductor announced the next stop was mine. Stay safe or say yes? The battle raged in my mind, but then, I wondered, If I don’t tell her that God loves her, what could happen? And that was it. This was the question that broke the dam of fear holding me back from pouring out God’s love. I had to take a risk because I couldn’t waste this opportunity to be a voice of hope and truth, maybe the only one she’d hear.
As we approached the station, I mustered every ounce of courage I could, asked God to help me, and reached out and actually touched this complete stranger, gasp, well there went rule #4.
She looked up at me through tear-stained eyes, and I said, “God told me to tell you that He loves you.” And then I braced myself for the worst. To my relief, instead of a punch in the face, her tear-stained eyes were filled with gratitude, and she choked out the most earnest, “Thank you,” I’ve ever heard in my life. I smiled, said, “You’re welcome,” and stepped off the train. I never saw her again.
When my foot hit the station platform, my heart filled with inexplicable joy. Before I said YES and stepped out to encourage a complete stranger, I was hesitant and wrestled with God, but after I did what He asked, I was flooded with the joy of the Lord.
This is what Jesus said would happen in John 15:10-11...
When we do as He asks, we are filled with joy. I used to read this verse like: if you don’t obey every commandment of the Bible, you won’t have joy. Which is literally impossible, and this interpretation left me feeling like I could never experience this kind of joy. But what if Jesus meant you’ll have joy as you listen for the active voice of the Lord and follow as He commands?
As I have listened and acted on the voice of the Holy Spirit, He has given me more and more to do, and each time, I experience overwhelming joy! It turns out saying YES to God does in fact lead to getting more Kingdom opportunities and produces more fruit of the Spirit in our lives.
It’s just one simple word: YES.
Kaley Rivera Thompson is an author, copywriter, public speaker, and musician. She serves as the Director of Communications and Donor Relations for the student sports-centric nonprofit she and her husband, Gage, run called Twelve. When she's not championing other women, cheering on the rising generation, writing or playing her guitar, Kaley loves to sip strong coffee, go on hikes, or take a day trip to the mountains with her family. She takes the most pride in being a mom to two little girls, Lina and Lili. You can follow her on instagram at @kriverathompson or find out more on her website at kriverathompson.com.