I can talk a big game about faith, y’all.
I can wax poetic about the big, scary leaps of faith I’m taking and how my God always comes through.
But if I’m being honest, there is one big area of my spiritual life I’ve displayed an incredible lack of faith.
I’ve seen Him change me and shape me and grow me in ways that I never would have believed could be possible. I’ve seen Him use me in ways I couldn’t dare to hope for and give me gifts I didn’t know I needed. I’ve seen Him come through again and again. I’ve seen Him use even the darkest of circumstances for His glory and my good.
But I still seem to hold this sneaking suspicion captive in my heart: He can’t use me to spread the gospel.
For all my sing-song mushy-gushy Jesus-talk, I still struggle to believe that He can use me to tell someone about Himself.
In the deepest corners of my heart lies an abiding cynicism that gnaws at my passion and takes the wind right out of my enthusiasm.
I can talk a believer’s ear right off about everything He has done in my heart and my life, all the ways He has grown me and all the things He’s teaching me.
I can skirt around the issue with a non-Christian, mention some safe ideas, give a cursory nod to the source of my joy. But my cynicism, doubt, and fear swoop in before I can get very real.
They’ve heard this before.
They don’t want you shoving anything down their throat.
You’ll talk about it eventually!
They’ll just see it in your life and ask you about it! That’s probably the best strategy anyway!
Here’s the thing: I know the strategies. I have the lines memorized. I’ve told this story frontwards and backwards since I was a six-year-old sword drill champ.
If I’m being honest, what I’m missing is honest-to-goodness faith. Faith that God changes people’s hearts, faith that He can use my rambling tendencies and insufficient knowledge, faith that He is working even when I don’t see it.
Unfortunately for my faint heart, faith like that doesn’t come easy. You can’t just will it into existence and it doesn’t usually just waltz into your life one day. So this is what I’m doing:
My fear is woven deep down into the very fabric of my being, touching on every insecurity and doubt along the way. It doesn’t just stop.
My first tendency when confronted with something that seems difficult (*cough* impossible *cough*) is to put my hair up, drink copious amounts of coffee, and get. it. done. I can power through hard things like the best of ‘em. It’s actually what I do best. It turns out, though, that people don’t exactly work the same way that political history papers work. When you put in enough research, caffeine, sweat and tears into one of these things, you get an A+ paper almost every time. When you put in enough research, caffeine, sweat and tears into the other one of these things, you often get….nothing.
I can’t write history papers without my Lord and Savior, but I can sure fool myself into thinking I can. Not so much with evangelism.
I’ve started saying the Lord’s Prayer three times during the day, at different intervals. Sometimes I can barely get past the first few lines, I’m so struck by how little I live like they’re true:
Our Father, who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
I’ve been praying desperate prayers for the lost people in my life, but I’ve begun to realize that this simple prayer is just as important, because it forces me to remember who is in control. (Hint: it’s not me.)
Listening to the story.
In Ephesians, Paul says that because of the incredible grace of God, he could preach the gospel so that “the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places” (3:10).
“Evangelism” isn’t a dirty word we use to scare each other into dutifully drudging through some awkward conversations.
Sharing the grand and beautiful story of the gospel is one of the most incredible privileges we’ve been given. We are invited to participate in the big dance, the great story, the most all-encompassing and breathtaking narrative in the history of the universe.
Lord, let us not take it so lightly.
Practicing the story.
This isn’t about reciting a synopsis of the gospel over and over again. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)
Practice the story of the gospel by living it, every moment and in every way. We like to decry “going through the motions,” but there is something to be said for motions. Put yourself in a rhythm – I’ve been amazed by the way marking the three major parts of my day with a simple recognition that He is in control has changed my whole perspective. When I reorient myself to His sovereignty and goodness consistently throughout the day, I am put in a posture of humility and rest.
If I don’t practice the gospel, living my life like it’s true each and every moment, no words I can say will make any difference.
Telling the story.
I like talking about it in the language of story. It’s a story that we live in, participate in, and love to tell.
It’s the story of a loving and all-sufficient God who made humanity for no reason other than that it gave Him pleasure and glory.
It’s the tale of a creation made good – fruitful and beautiful and perfect. A creation that would willingly choose to sin against God – turning away from Him and His perfect plans.
It’s the tragedy of a fallen creation desperate for some way back into the presence of God. A fallen creation constantly trying and failing to follow Him, letting themselves be seduced by false gods and wayward desires.
It’s the chronicle of a chosen people and the Savior they were waiting for. A chosen people who were told of his coming in all kinds of language and story and yet didn’t recognize Him when He came.
It’s the grand narrative of greatness humbled into a newborn child, the God of the universe taking on the grit and grime of His fallen creation in order to save it.
It’s the story of a price paid by the only one who had no need to pay it – Jesus crucified for the sins of the world.
It’s the unbelievable tale of the day victory was won over death, the scandalous story of abundant grace and overwhelming love.
It’s a story too good to keep quiet.