As my body matures with age and my relationship with Jesus matures spiritually, I am less concerned with the trappings of this world. Oh, there was a time that it mattered if my salary was increasing, or how late the model of my car was, or even how many square feet was in my house. I was just as caught up in meeting the world's standards as anyone else.
But now I'm increasingly content with where I'm at on my life's timeline -- I'm no longer concerned with comparing myself to anyone other than Jesus. I know that makes me sound corny and like a Christian cliché. But I simply mean that outward appearances, or things the world counts as wealth, no longer satisfy me or entice me. And I find myself saddened when people I care about still measure their success in life by the things they've accumulated, or the status symbols they think define them.
Case in point, we recently enjoyed a visit with a very good friend that we've known for 25 years. There was a time, before Mark and I answered the Lord's invitation, when we were extremely close with him and his wife. We shared a lot of fun times together as well as the same outlook on life... struggling to chase after the "good life"; nice car, nice house, money in the bank, and "a secure future in the world". In fact, we were blessed when they asked us to be godparents to their daughter.
A recent conversation with our goddaughter, who is taking a year off from school to travel the world, revealed just what our image is like to them. As a pre-teen, she struggled with describing how she sees us... "really Christian; going to church; you know ... in the Bible all the time". In other words, not much fun, and certainly incapable of having anything in common with her family's way of living. Mind you, she had been enrolled in a prestigious private Christian school, but I'm afraid the only affirmation of Scripture she received was when her parents said to call us for an explanation of a particular theological concept. Needless to say, my heart hurt after that conversation.
And while she and her mother are experiencing the excitement of ancient cities, museums, and cultures, her dad is back home in the States working to make this unique experience possible. And it was the recent visit with him that has brought me to write this post.
He was explaining how well his company was doing and that he had provided well for his daughter. "Her college is paid for, she is set for life, and will never have to worry about anything". My spirit leaped. Did I dare speak what the Holy Spirit just whispered to me, even at the risk it might offend him? I hesitated for just a moment, before deciding that their eternal souls were on the line, and I had to speak.
"I'm going to say this because I love you and your family". There was a silence that was palpable. "I know you have taken care of your daughter well, and she has everything this world can offer. But it's what comes after this world that I'm concerned about. This life is temporary; seventy to eighty years, if we're lucky. But eternity is forever. What are you giving her to prepare her for that?"
There was a long silence. Then his response went something like this ... "I have another friend; the wife of a colleague, who is close to God like you are. She even says she talks to God and he talks to her. But I never hear from God". Ah, my dear friend, do you ever stop pursuing the riches of this world to listen for Him? Because, I promise you, He is trying to engage with you every minute! He then went on to talk about "all" the conflicts in the Bible, yet he could only mention a couple ... the age of the earth and the dinosaurs; and how irrelevant and hard is the Old Testament to understand.
An attempt to engage in an entry level discussion of Scripture was quickly rebuffed and the topic changed to how he was going to celebrate his upcoming 50th birthday by flying four couples to Europe for a week. It was clear that he had no desire to hear any testimony from us on how Jesus has impacted our life. I guess that me, Mark, and Jesus just aren't exciting enough.
Now, maybe you have friends or family like this -- maybe not as wealthy as this -- but definitely as blind and lost. Have you, like Mark and I, tried for years to reach them about their salvation, and feel like you're failing? Here's the way I look at it ... I have really become convicted that if I do not take advantage of every opportunity I have to share Jesus, and what He has done in my life and wants to do in theirs, then I cannot expect to see any change in the person. That doesn't mean I am constantly on a religious soap box. But it does mean that when I am prompted by the Holy Spirit to speak into a person's life, then I must plant the seed so He can water it.
The times that I have resisted these promptings have resulted in a very clear reminder from my Lord, "But if you publicly deny that you know Me, I will also deny you before My heavenly Father". I believe that doesn't just include the obvious case of blasphemy, but also encompasses missed opportunities to share our testimonies. You see, I really believe that a spiritual nudge from the Spirit is an opportunity for me to partner with Him in enlarging His Kingdom here on earth. I know without a doubt that God doesn't want anyone to be lost. And I will admit that it is difficult to wrap my head around whether He knows who will [or will not] accept His invitation for eternal salvation before its even offered, but I do not want to stand before Jesus and hear Him say, "I was waiting for you to tell him/her about Me, but the moment was squandered, and the opportunity was lost". What if I was the only one God put in their path? And then there is the thought, Why would I ever hesitate to share with anyone how He called to me and saved me from eternal separation from Him?
So, if you are like me and despair over your inability to reach family or friends, remember that it is not you who do the saving work. Your job is to sow the seeds, even if they appear to fall on the wayside, or rocky ground, or among thorns. Only the Living Water can nourish them, and you will know that you have served the Kingdom as a worthy ambassador. Instead of worrying about whether the seed took root, or suffering an obvious rejection, keep looking for those circumstances in which you can host the Presence of God. Speak whenever prompted and trust that your efforts will not be in vain. You may not see results this side of heaven, but I savor the thought of surprising reunions in the glorious kingdom of our Father!
Proverbs 10:5 Know the importance of the season you’re in and a wise son you will be. But what a waste when an incompetent son sleeps through his day of opportunity!