11/6/09 Joe, about 30
Fear of man and the dreaded raised eyebrow continues to plague me. I pass by many opportunities to share the Gospel before I work up the courage to start a conversation. How do I finally choose who to talk to? I'd like to say the Holy Spirit directly guides me, but too often it just happens to be the first person in my path when I finally step out of my comfort zone. Can God work through me this way? I believe He does, but I'd like to consistently get to a point where God works with me rather than in spite of me. I have a long way to go.
Out for a jog on a lonely stretch of road in Minnesota, I thought I might not have many opportunities for a conversation that day, so I decided to try to talk to the first person I saw. Well, it turned out to be a bicyclist coming fast from the opposite direction. Do I want to try to flag this guy down? He won't stop! The next person was a man working in his garage at the end of a long driveway with his dog barking angrily. The dog will probably attack me.. I kept jogging. A woman pushing a stroller? I might scare her. A guy raking leaves? Probably too busy to talk. I came into a more heavily populated area where many people were outside doing yardwork or other various projects, but the excuses came to me just as fast as the opportunities. I didn't stop to talk to the last ten people, so why would I stop for this one? Almost at the end of my jogging route, I apologized to God for my fear and procrastination and asked for one more chance. I rounded a corner and came across Joe, raking leaves at the edge of the road. After some conversation I found out he would be spending the weekend deer hunting like myself, so I said "Hey, I have an interesting question that will give you something to think about while you sit in your deer stand all weekend." "Sure, what is it?" I asked what he thought will come next after this life. "Well, I used to be a Christian and went through catechism, but I gave all that up. I don't think there's any way we can know, and I really don't care one way or the other." Joe had grown up in a Christian home, but rejected the faith once he moved out on his own. I asked how he would be judged if the Bible is true about heaven, hell and God's judgment. He thought he would do well at first, until my questions about individual commandments helped him to realize his guilt in breaking them. He said he had broken each of them except Jesus' teaching that calling someone a name in anger is like murder. "I keep a pretty tight reign" on my emotions he said. This explained to me why, when he admitted his guilt and said he would probably end up in hell, he told me he wasn't all that concerned about it. I explained the Gospel as clearly as I knew how and could tell that despite his "Christian upbringing" it was fairly new to him. "Does this give you a few things to think about in your deer stand?" "Not really" he said, but I didn't believe him, knowing that our Minnesotan stoicism can be very deceptive.