Read His Words Before Ours!
Can I tell you a secret?
Let me warn you, sister, it’s not pretty.
But it’s real.
And I have a sneaking suspicion a few of you might share this particular secret.
I’ve spent most of my walk with Jesus terrified.
Terrified of sharing Him with those who may not know Him.
Terrified that my lack of knowledge will keep me from adequately explaining or defending the gospel.
Terrified to make a spectacle of myself. Wearing sandwich boards and yelling from street corners isn’t for me . . . and surely, that’s what evangelism means, right?
Terrified of the judgement of others. “You’re too quiet,” I’ve been told. “Jesus can’t work through quiet, shy people.” I’ve been afraid that my words (or lack of the right ones) might even push someone away from Him.
My fears led me to believe that sharing Jesus was for other people.
Those with more courage.
Those with better words.
But His Word insists that the Great Commission isn’t just for other people.
It’s for me.
But the fear. It paralyzed me.
We’re not alone. If we take a peek at Jonah, we find a guy who really, REALLY gets it.
Most of us know how the story begins: God sends Jonah on a mission to deliver His word to the people of Nineveh.
No big deal, right?
Here’s where it gets interesting: Nineveh was a chief city of the Assyrians. Now the Assyrians were some seriously. bad. guys. If there was a way to live cruelly, immorally, and with basest savagery, the Assyrians perfected it. And if you were unlucky enough to find yourself in battle against them, you’d better hope you died in the fighting. I’m gonna’ do those of you like me, with an active imagination, a solid and spare you the graphic details; suffice it to say the Assyrians turned humiliation, torture, and death of their enemies into an art form.
With that in mind, let’s imagine:
“Hey, buddy,” God says, settling on the ground next to Jonah. “I have a job for you. Those Ninevites . . . yikes. I need you to head over there and tell them that they’re doing it all wrong. There are gonna’ be serious consequences unless they make big changes.”
Jonah blinks a few times, swallows, and rises to his feet as nonchalantly as possible. “Yeah, um, I’ll get right on that,” he mumbles, avoiding eye contact.
And then he takes off in the opposite direction, as fast as his sandals, and his terror, can carry him.
God watches Jonah disappear into the distance. “Kiddo,” He whispers to His fleeing child, “You can’t outrun my love. I’ll be with you always. We can do this.”
Days pass. Huddled in a corner on the lower deck of a boat in the center of an epic storm, Jonah shrinks from the enraged stares of the ship’s crewmen. “It’s . . .” he licks his dry lips and tries again. “It’s me. The storm is because of me. I’m running from God.”
Jonah hangs his head.
The death he sought to escape is upon him, what’s somehow worse is the ache in his gut from ignoring God’s call.
Resting a hand on Jonah’s slumped shoulder,
God leans in.
“I’m here, child. You can’t outrun my love. I’m with you always. We can do this.”
A few more hours find Jonah floating on partially-digested fish food, dodging jets of stomach acid, and trying to breathe through his mouth. Bobbing alongside him, God lifts a finger to Jonah’s chin, gently tips Jonah’s face up to meet His gaze. “I’m here, my precious one. You can’t outrun my love. I’m with you always. We can do this.”
And this time, His words break something inside of Jonah. Hope begins to build. Maybe he can carry out God’s purpose for him, after all. Maybe he isn’t wise enough, or brave enough, or enough of a wordsmith.
Maybe Jonah isn’t enough.
But God is!
So Jonah says yes.
What about us, sisters?
Jonah had every valid reason to fear the Assyrians.
The fears silencing us as first-worlders may look different from Jonah’s, but are no less real.
The fear of judgement.
The fear of failure, or disappointment.
The fear of not being wise enough, or brave enough, or well-spoken enough.
Of not being enough.
But God is enough.
And the same promise He made to Jonah, He has already made to us!
“I’m here, my sweet girl. You can’t outrun my love. I am with you always. We can do this.”
A few years ago, I learned a new way to think about evangelism:
Share Jesus, generously and always.*
Those words broke something inside of me.
Hope began to build.
Maybe I could carry out God’s purposes for me, after all.
He’s not asking me to defend the gospel with academic precision.
He’s not asking me to make a spectacle of myself, or drag unwilling bystanders into repentance.
He’s not asking me to have exactly the right words, or change my quiet personality.
He’s not asking me to be enough.
He IS asking me to believe that He is enough,
and to say yes.
When I’m chatting with another mom and she shares the hard things she’s facing, instead of trotting out my usual “I’ll be thinking of you,” He might ask me to pray for her, right then and there.
When a friend loses a family member, instead of posting the requisite “Let me know if I can help” and then forgetting about it, He might nudge me to call her on the way to the grocery store and ask what I can grab for her.
When I encounter someone who looks or sounds or thinks differently than me, He might remind me to look her in the eye, smile, and offer a kind word or a hug.
And maybe, when I encounter a heart-broken mama, where I too have been heartbroken, I can tell her that I know how she feels, because I’ve felt that way too. And then I can tell her about my very sure and certain hope!
Because that’s generous.
That’s being always ready.
That’s biblical evangelism.
Say yes with me, Sisters!
*Concept taken from 3DM.
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!