3/21/15 Jason about 30
When I first became a Christian, I knew it was important to read the Bible regularly, but it didn’t come naturally. There were so many other interesting things to do and distractions and I would have to sacrifice some part of my day to make time for it. It wasn’t until I set a daily Bible reading goal and asked God to help me that I actually started reading it daily. Prayer was the same way. What should seem so natural – communicating with my Creator – really only happened when I was desperate and needed something – and even then it seemed hard to pray because I realized I had neglected our relationship when I didn’t need anything. I had to learn to carve out time from my daily schedule and be intentional about prayer because it was something that I wanted to do but, when I was honest with myself, I had to admit was not happening anywhere near as often as I wanted it to. We need goals. We need to be intentional. We need God to help us with the goals we set. This is true about so much of life in Christ. It is also true about sharing the Gospel. About 6 years ago, I set a daily goal of one gospel conversation with someone new every day, whether sharing with a non-believer or encouraging a believer. I had wanted to share my faith for years, and often did through a variety of ministries and programs I was involved with. But it wasn’t happening “naturally” very often, as non-believers rarely came to me with questions about my faith, and when they did I wasn’t ready to answer them. When I set my outreach goal, I had to admit it wasn’t exactly natural if it needed a daily goal in order to happen, but at least it was going to happen. And over the years, slowly, more slowly than I care to admit, it is becoming natural. Today I had a wonderful conversation with an older lady who is a believer and involved in her Methodist Church. I think she was very encouraged in her faith. I left with part of me thinking “That was nice, and now that I have completed that goal I can focus on other things”; but another, increasingly louder voice in my head was saying “I miss sharing with unbelievers, I don’t want to stop just yet. Lord, I know I have reached my goal, but if You want me to I’d love to reach out to someone else.” That someone else was Jason, out for a walk before leaving to catch a plane back to his home in Pittsburg. Like so many people Jason has been rejecting his childhood faith and fabricating new ideas about God that he is more comfortable with, so we talked about that, and I pointed out that it is much the same as the worship of false idols warned about in the Ten Commandments. Jason had a lot to think about on his flight back home, because the goal God inspired me to set is now becoming more natural. Like Paul wrote of in 1 Cor. 9, “…I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” It is still a struggle to carve out the time, to step out of my comfort zone, to trust that it is worth the time and effort. But so it is with prayer and Bible study too. Is evangelism just for some “gifted” Christians? Then I would be ruled out! No, it is a normal discipline of the Christian life, and we need to be intentional about it.