" ... You must go to everyone I send you to
and say whatever I command you.
Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you
and will rescue you," declares the Lord.
This is a difficult passage for me to contemplate, because I know I have failed my Lord in accomplishing it. How many times have you felt the Spirit coax you to speak to someone about Christ, yet you ignored the prompting? For me, it is more times than I want to think about. And this concept was brought home to me once again this week, as I read a chapter in the fantastic book, Radical Trust by author John Maisel.
John is a decorated Marine (Bronze Star and Purple Heart) who, after serving in the jungles of Vietnam, dedicated his life to "traveling the world to bring light into the darkness of sin-shuttered hearts." A giant in Christian leadership, he has written an inspiring book about his life's stories and what it means to trust in God.
One of these stories occurred during the hell that is war. John relates that once he learned God was in control of everything, he no longer worried about getting himself out of Vietnam alive. Instead, he began to focus on getting the men under his command ready for eternity by introducing them to Jesus.
John relates this story: his unit had been out on patrol for several days and were quite exhausted. One night, as they set up camp in the jungle, they were treated to a breathtaking sight. He said the extreme darkness of the jungle made the night sky come alive with countless stars, and they were dancing! It was nearly unbelievable!
About that time, a fellow lieutenant named Carl approached him in the darkness and remarked on the magnificence of the night sky. John responded and said, "It sure is! You know, that's what God created." Carl answered back, "Yeah, you couldn't look at that and not know that there's a God." John seized upon that statement, and said, "There really is a God, Carl, and that God calls each one of those stars by name. And did you know that the God who designed these heavens wants to have a relationship with you? He wants to know you in a personal way." Carl paused a second, and then he said enthusiastically, "Man, I would love to know more about that!"
And then John made the mistake that I have made so many times. He was tired; he knew his unit would be getting under way at first light and had another hard day's trek ahead of them through the jungle. So he said, "I'll tell you what, It's getting kind of late. When we get back to base camp in the next couple of days, let's you and me get together. I'd like to explain to you what the Bible says about how you can have that relationship with God." Carl responded, "Man, I look forward to that, John!"
The next day Carl caught a bullet through the throat and died. When John found out, he was shaken to his core. A man had told him that he was thirsty for Jesus, the Living Water of life, and John knew he had failed in giving him that water.
What John learned through that experience is something that I need to learn; that we all need to learn. Our Scripture today speaks of obedience to Christ's command to witness to everyone He puts in our path. Obeying Jesus is not simply saying, "Yes, Lord!", but saying, "Yes, Lord -- no matter what and no matter when!" That means no matter how tired we are; how uncomfortable it makes us feel; no matter how we think that person might respond. Jesus has given us an awesome responsibility to help our fellow man prepare for eternity. We have information that they need to know! And God forgive us if we are one minute or one day too late in sharing it.
I highly recommend Radical Trust by John Maisel. It is a small, easily read book of his life experiences that will inspire you with life-changing insight into these simple and yet powerful Biblical truths -- Jesus Loves You and You Can Trust Him!