Cindy at Palapa by Patty LaRoche

There was an interesting exchange at the Palapa, our poolside gathering spot, the week before Thanksgiving. Six women started the conversation by trying to decide when “Black Friday” was held here in Mazatlán. No one would miss out on the big-bargain, tug-of-war.

It begins today.”

No, it starts next Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.”

That’s when it starts in the United States, not in Mexico.”

Back-and-forth the discussion went, until Cindy, my smart-but-dingy friend, spoke up. “I thought that happened at Easter, not Thanksgiving.”

I couldn’t help myself. (Actually, I could, but I didn’t.) “Well, since one deals with the Pilgrims and one deals with Jesus, there’s really quite a difference.” Everyone started laughing, even Cindy, until she thought about our conversation for a few seconds.

I probably missed that part in our youth group. I think the nuns didn’t like us because we went to public school and just showed up once a week for religion classes. They would rap our knuckles with a ruler when we didn’t pay attention. I got smacked a lot.”

Several chuckles later, Cindy became serious. “I just always get sad on Black Friday.” Surely she wasn’t talking about shopping, so if this sadness was about the day Jesus died, I was touched.

Yea,” she continued, “because that’s when my friends were injured in a terrible car wreck. It was just a couple of days before Easter. I’ll never forget it.”

What in the world? “Actually,” I said, “the Friday before Easter isn’t called Black Friday. It’s called Good Friday, and it’s the day Jesus died.”

Cindy looked at me like I had just fallen off a turkey truck. “Well, what’s so good about that?”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “Good grief, Cindy,” I laughed. “I’m surprised you have any knuckles left.”

I love unplanned conversations about Jesus, for that’s where he seems to make the greatest impact. Just mentioning his name reminds people that he is real and a part of my life…which is why I don’t understand Christians who are paralyzed at the thought of including him in their everyday conversations. How many opportunities they miss! (Trust me, I’ve missed more than I can count.)

2 Timothy 4:2 reminds us to be prepared to talk about God, no matter whether the time is favorable or not. After Peter healed a man, he took advantage of the awe-struck crowd by sharing the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. That was not his intent. He had set out that morning to pray in the temple, but then this unexpected opportunity presented itself. Peter could have walked through the throng of people, shaking hands, perhaps signing an autograph or two, but he didn’t. Recognizing a chance to remind people what Jesus had done for them, he began sharing the highlights of what he knew about his Savior.

Granted, Peter’s talk ended with many people turning their lives over to Jesus, and mine ended up in laughter, but I think every mention of Jesus or God counts. After all, you’ve gotta start somewhere, right?

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