I often get discouraged when I don’t seem to be helping people move forward in making a commitment to Christ. I know I can only do the work, plant the seeds and then wait for God to “win them over,” but I am always looking for indications that some progress is being made, that something I’ve said or done has awakened that need to know Him that is built into all of us. It’s a bad habit and I need to learn that God’s timetable is very different than mine. I know if anyone was looking for some indication from me that my heart was changing, they would not have seen much, if anything. I yielded to God in the space of about 5 minutes and I don’t think there were any signs before that. The changes took some time, but anyone anxiously waiting for signals from me was probably frustrated with my lack of progress.
“The Lord says, “My thoughts are not like your thoughts. Your ways are not like my ways. Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9
This verse is true about God’s working in our life in many areas, but I have to remind myself of it a lot when I think about loved ones who don’t know Jesus. Too often I allow my concern for them to take away my joy. It’s a vicious circle because I want them to see the peace and joy I have found so they will want what I have. Too often, they see the sadness and frustration and I’m sure they want no part of that kind of life! I have to remember that God will find a way to soften their hearts and open their eyes and ears. Only He knows what it will take to accomplish this. Nothing is too big for God, even as I consider how far away from Him some of my loved ones are. As I try to devise plans on how to help them discover the truth, God thumps my noggin and reminds me that I can not imagine how He might be working. The most important thing I do is consistently show others Jesus by how I live my life.
Sometimes I grow weary and I think perhaps I will just leave people alone about Jesus. But doing nothing won’t ease my concern and certainly doesn’t rid me of my responsibility to lead others to Him. I know how God used others to reach me and I’m thankful they didn’t decide to leave me alone. More often than not, their actions spoke louder than their words, but I did have to learn God’s plan of salvation by listening to those who were trying to explain it to me and I struggled with that for a long time.
I can remember conversations with Christians that didn’t sit right with me. I wish I could say they just left me feeling a bit unsettled, even convicted about my attitude toward God, but that wasn’t the case. I was irritated by them, sometimes angry. Sometimes I felt offended and wondered where in the world they were getting their information. My conclusion was that they were self-righteous and they were somehow putting me down. I believed they were talking about their experience and they couldn’t accept the fact that my experience with God was different from theirs. Of course, my “experience” with God wasn’t really an experience. It was merely a list of ideas and beliefs I had decided on. Very little was based on anything I had actually learned about God and I certainly wasn’t connecting with Him. I didn’t want anyone telling me what to believe; I was going to hold on to my beliefs, thank you very much!
In order to move forward, I had to take an honest look at myself and figure out why I was so unwilling to listen to what was being said. What I realized was that I didn’t want to be wrong about something as personal as my spirituality. I didn’t want anyone else to know more than I did. Pride was keeping me from knowing God. I had to make a conscious decision that it was OK if I actually learned something from somebody about God. Not knowing something didn’t make me stupid or inferior. It just meant I had missed something or misinterpreted something along the way. I had to quit bending the truth to make it fit my life choices, most of which horrify me now. What I needed most was a sincere believer who I knew truly cared about me. I needed to know I could trust the person I would have to open up to. I needed to know they would love me in spite of all I had done and that they wouldn’t share my sordid story with anyone. My general distrust of people left that field of possibilities limited to, oh, about ONE.
My daughter had the biggest impact on leading me to Christ (in second and third place are Alistair Begg and the K-Love radio station). My daughter and I are very close and, as a result of my trust in her and love for her I could hear what she was saying about God through my anger, resentment, pride and shame because I knew she loved me, I knew she truly cared about me. I could let my defenses down with her. She had no ulterior motives. She didn’t think she was better than me, never criticized me for my worldly ways. She just talked to me about what she learned, what she knew to be true, shared her experiences. She lived life based on principles God laid out for us. She just spoke truth and shared with me what the Bible said through words and actions. We had some doctrinal debates but there was never one where she walked off angry with me for not agreeing with her. When we hit an impasse, she would just kind of shrug her shoulders and move on. She never knew how closely I was watching her, but I noticed her quiet confidence, her willingness to look inside herself and change, her eagerness to please God by doing a lot of things she really didn’t want to do. I did see her struggle through some of these things but her decisions were ultimately based on how God wanted her to live her life and I knew I wanted my life to be more like hers than anyone else I had ever known.
I had to warn her about this blog because she does not like attention drawn to herself and wants the glory to be given to God alone, rightfully so. Her response, predictably, was “Don’t give me too much credit, Mom.” But I told her that God used her to lead me to Him and we need to tell people how He has worked in our lives; how He used her even when she was unaware of it. While it’s a testament to her, it is also a testament to God and the subtle ways He moves around in our lives. The strongest statement she makes is her consistent efforts to be faithful to God. Sure, she wavers from time to time, but even that helped me because I knew she wasn’t perfect and I knew she knew she wasn’t perfect. During these times, I watched as she worked herself back to where she needed to be.
“And he said to them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:19
My daughter worked with youth at church and many came to admire and depend on her. She also talks to me about her concern for friends who don’t have a relationship with God and how difficult it is to “be bold” sometimes. I can’t be sure how many people God has reached using her, I’m sure there are many. But I know for sure He used her to reach me. Even if our mission field consists of only 1 or 2 people, that’s important. Those 1 or 2 folks will be eternally grateful for our efforts someday: they will spend eternity with God because we didn’t give up! I know God would have reached me somehow if my daughter had not been in my life, a possibility that came close to being a reality, but I’m glad He decided He needed her in my plan. You see, when I found out I was pregnant with her, I scheduled an abortion. Through a miraculous chain of events, her life was spared.
I could only see how a baby was going to make my life difficult. I wasn’t going to give her the chance to be born yet God used her to give me a chance to be re-born! I can’t begin to name the many ways in which she has blessed me, but I certainly never would have guessed that my child would play this role in my life! There are no other Christians that I remained close enough to for God to use to reach me. By saving her, He saved me. He knew exactly what it would take to lead me back to Him and He made it happen. It certainly didn’t seem like a plan from God: I was single, still in college. I couldn’t even take care of myself, let alone a baby. But God used the situation for my good. Years later I would destroy all the good He had done in my life, but in spite of me, He managed to use that little girl to save me.
Each one of us is an important part of God’s plan. No matter how small we might feel our role is God does not view it as small. When things are tough, our words and actions have to demonstrate to others that we are trusting Him. If He is using us to save just one person, we must understand how important that is and we have to realize we may not even know when He’s using us or with whom. I sometimes get frustrated because I think if I wasn’t so shy or if I was smarter or knew more Bible verses or got more involved, God could use me to reach more people. As I learn more and get more involved, He will use me in different ways. But I need to keep doing what God is leading me to do right now and He will use it for whomever needs the things I can give right now, whether that’s 1 person or 1,000 people. When Jesus died on the cross, He didn’t think about saving a lot of people in a very general sense. He thought about me and you individually. If I was the only person on earth, He would have died on the cross to save me. Each day we must strive to live each moment in a way that reflects Christ because we never know how closely someone is watching us. My daughter is right when she says we can’t take the credit. God gets the glory, but we can rejoice that He found us worthy to be part of His plan to save someone from eternal separation from Him.
Every now and then, my daughter apologizes for giving me advice or pointing out a weakness, feeling like she may have crossed a line with me, her mother. But in spiritual things we are sisters in Christ. I often feel ashamed because it’s supposed to be my job to guide and advise her, not the other way around. For many years I failed her in that but we are a team now, helping and supporting one another in our walks and in our efforts to lead others to Jesus. She is my model for my witness for Him and just as she never gave up on me, I will not give up on those God puts in my mission field! Every minute of every day I am acutely aware of how closely I watched my daughter and how her consistent faith helped me see Jesus.
“Then He said to His disciples, The harvest is great, but the labourers are few;…” Matthew 9:3