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Last week, I was caught off guard by one of the sweetest little ladies you could ever hope to meet. Her name is Miss Jean, and she spends every summer at Falls Creek loving on the summer staffers. Always ready with an encouraging word, she dutifully sends cards and makes and passes out prayer favors when she gets the time. Compassionate and generous with her love, she doesn’t play favorites, hugging every neck willing to stoop down a little and praying for every heart willing to open up. On my way to the tabernacle for high school Bible study Wednesday morning, I had my head down watching for puddles when a crazy bright pair of tennis shoes appeared in my peripheral. Miss Jean. She was headed my way from the tabernacle. I looked up, and my heart smiled. Sparkly pink fedora perched atop her silver curls, a Bible in her hand, Miss Jean was obviously feeling very close to Jesus, smiling even as she wiped tiny tears from the corners of her eyes.

Before I got to say anything more than “hi,” she grabbed my hand and pulled me to her. Her grip was surprisingly firm. Maybe that’s what threw me off. “What is the prayer request of your heart today, Angela?” she asked, our hands a tight ball of fingers beneath her chin. I didn’t know what to say. I wasn’t expecting a question like that. I had been thinking about Hope being away at Super Summer, a leadership camp at Oklahoma Baptist University, just before I met up with Miss Jean, so I went with that and asked her to pray that Hope would grow in her faith and come away with an experience that was all her own, one that had nothing to do with the rest of the Sanders four. Miss Jean was all over it. “Dear Lord,” Miss Jean began, “please be with Hope this week at Super Summer. Take care of her and teach her to sing your praises HER way! We ask these things in your Son’s holy and precious name, and we know His name is….?” I waited. Silence. After a few seconds, I peeked. Miss Jean’s face was very close to mine, her eyes wide with expectation. I had obviously missed something. Was she asking me a question? Had she seriously forgotten Jesus’ name, or was this supposed to be a responsive prayer time?

Before I could form an answer, Miss Jean finished her own sentence, speaking very slowly so that the clueless woman in front of her could understand. “His name is JEEEEEEESUS!” “I knew that!” I assured her quickly, feeling awkward and very young. Giggling, she patted my hand. “Of course you did.”

I love Miss Jean. In this instance, she reminded me to “be prepared (2 Timothy 4:2)” for questions much more challenging than the one she posed, questions that inevitably come when you least expect it. Here are just a few that I have been asked recently. “It’s sad because he wasn’t a Christian when he died. That means he went to hell, right?”

“Shouldn’t faith count for something, even if it’s not faith in God?”

“Don’t you think that a person should get to go to Heaven as long as they do everything that their own religion says they have to do to get there?”

“Surely, if you are a good person, you get to go to Heaven. How could you not?”

By the way, none of these questions were asked at convenient times or within the context of otherwise spiritual conversations. In retrospect, I know that my answers lined up with Scripture, but I wish they’d been more carefully worded. I wish I’d been more prepared.

How about you? Do you know the answers to these questions? If not, search your Bible.  Ask someone who knows.  Eternity is forever.  Trust me.  You do NOT want to be caught off guard!

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