Being aware that He is the presence in the present.
I remember as a new Christian a general sentiment among my brothers and sisters in the Lord was that if you blew an opportunity to testify, don’t worry about it, God will use someone else to witness to that person. But in the back of my mind I couldn’t help wonder what if the next person blows the opportunity as well? Also the nagging feeling that a missed opportunity usually boiled down to willful disobedience; a hesitation on our part due to embarrassment, fear, I’m-in-a-hurry, or whatever euphemism we use to soothe our conscious with. If the Lord asks us to speak to that person, He knows what He’s doing, what we are capable of, what personality the person will respond to and what that person needs to hear, what their needs are.
I have had my share of missed opportunities, way too many. I didn’t want to look like a fool, I was new to Christianity and had not read all of the Bible yet. Yes, I thought I had to have the full book tucked away in my memory in order to have an “instant concordance” available in my head for any questions or challenges thrown at me. Ha! If I only had a memory of that capability.
My walk of shame includes two larger and epic fail’s. I want to tell you about them as a warning to others; we never know if the opportunity presented to us will be the very last opportunity for that soul. None of us want people to go to hell, but they are, and we need to be about our Father’s business while we are still able! I don’t mean in a political or social sense only. What if we are incapacitated tomorrow? Or worse, die? Or Jesus comes, how many will accompany us as we walk towards Him? Many, that makes Him proud, “Well done good and faithful servant” or terribly disappointed? I want to see His smile, hear His good words, and to be able to hold my head high, looking my Savior in His Eyes.
The first was while I was a nurse. One of our young, vibrant patients had partied way too much during spring break. She had been sitting on the tailgate of a moving truck, on the city streets when a traffic jam caused the driver to slam on his brakes. Unfortunately the car following wasn’t able to stop fast enough and rammed into the truck, breaking both of our patients legs. She was in for a routine visit and was sharing with me her story. I felt the Lord nudge me to talk to her about Him but fearing for my job, I remained silent. The next day we received word that she had committed suicide that night.
It has been 17 years since this happened, I still think about my missed opportunity.
One would think one would learn, but I am apparently quite muley; my comfort is that the Potter is working on this imperfect pot. This was more recent, about 4 years ago. A month prior to her demise we were working together with a wonderful group of volunteers up in the mountains, preparing the search and rescue hut for the winter. After a hard days work, and at high altitude at that, we all enjoyed delicious, authentic Persian food prepared by one of our Persian volunteers. A few of us broke off into groups and I found myself with Michelle and another gentleman. Somehow religion came up. The gentleman was a former Baptist, now of the Jewish faith, married to a Muslim. They have a daughter and they have decided that the daughter can choose whatever belief she wants to (an opportunity screaming in my face here.) Michelle mentioned that she was an atheist (can you hear the alarm bells as loudly as I can?). Why did I bypass the TWO opportunities, the main reason? Other than I was horribly ill-informed about Muslim, atheism, and other beliefs?
I was sipping on a glass of wine. I felt that if I spoke up about Christianity that I would appear hypocritical (I was by no means drunk, I never even finished the wine) by my drinking. The mere appearance of impropriety had silenced me.
Here’s the thing: I forgot that it is never by my words or my influence or by my power. It is by the Spirit of the Lord that each and every believer is convicted of sin and their need for the Savior. Yes, it would have helped if I did not give the appearance of inappropriateness. But no one gets saved by what I have to say or do. No one.
One month later Michelle was back on the mountain, training for an international hike. She was quite athletic with years of strenuous hiking and backpacking experience under her pack. She had added 40 pounds of rock to her backpack for conditioning and intended to complete the loop. The problem was, it became foggy and damp and slick at the mountaintop. She fell 1,200 feet to her death. It took us 5 days to find her and witnesses said that they heard a woman screaming but could not tell where she was; she did not die instantly. I only HOPE there was a last minute cry out to Him.
I can not articulate the shame. The failure. I wanted the earth to swallow me up and cast me away, I was lower than low. How could I fail a friend in such a manner? How could I fail MY GOD in such a manner?! I fell to my knees, the sin of indifference, of inadequate preparation, of essentially denying my God by remaining silent ate at me, humbled me before my holy God. Indescribable disgrace that you never, ever want to experience.
A Community To Witness
We have been watching the news, and have acknowledged the increasing labor pains. There is a clear and present danger, there always has been but the beast knows his time is limited and his fury is beyond our comprehension. We are aware of what our futures hold; we’ve read the end of the Book. I’m so burdened for what humanity is and will be experiencing, and we have seen or heard nothing yet! NOTHING in comparison to what John describes! Are you absolutely convinced that these are the last days? If we are absolutely convinced, then we must be preparing souls! We must heed His command, not a suggestion, but His orders are to go and make disciples. *Syria is running out of people to fill the executioners job! Does this mean replacing the sword with guillotines for better efficiency? Do we think peace, peace here in America, or the UK, or wherever, good gravy! They wouldn’t behead us here! Hmm. Really? Feet don’t fail me now. These army-of-the-Lord boots are made for witnessing, not walking.
* See the story on Vine of Life News: http://vineoflife.net/2013/06/07/a-lot-of-training-to-swing-the-sword-properly/
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