I was talking candidly with a friend of mine who is not a believer. We had been discussing a lot of topics and then in a winding road sort of way we wound up on the topic of God. I could sense it...I knew where this conversation was headed...to the dreaded "all roads/religions can lead to God". I felt my heart quicken because I knew I would need to say something. But what if the something that came spilling out of my mouth wasn't eloquent enough? In mere seconds I could become a star witness for Christ or I could be a dismal failure.
My gut instinct was to immediately start talking. After all, I am passionate about Christ, but this time I did something different. I silently prayed, "Lord, give me the right words." Then, I paused and took a deep breath, and thought for a second, and then slowly I began to speak. I honestly can't remember exactly what I said, but I felt the power of the Holy Spirit bring to mind specific scriptures and very basic Biblical truth.
Luke 10:27 sprang to mind:
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and love your neighbor as yourself."
We talked about how these were good principles to live by. We talked about how killing in God's name does not follow these principles. She agreed that whoever said this would be a good person to emulate.
The doorway was opened for me to share that this is what Jesus said to his disciples when they asked what one must do in order to inherit eternal life. We both could agree that Jesus was a pretty smart man.
I resisted the urge to launch into a theological debate about how Christianity is the only "grace" based religion. That in every other religion you have to earn or work toward your salvation...you have to be good enough.
Instead, I simply shared that I believe what's written in the Bible to be true. And, in the Bible, Jesus says:
"I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)
After I shared that scripture, I did something really profound...I stopped talking. I just let it rest. I let Jesus have the last word.
The Holy Spirit had also reminded me of the importance to not just read, but to KNOW scripture. I'm a work in progress.
As a writer and blogger, so many times I compare my words and how I say things to how others write and express truth. I know some writers whose words, frankly, leave me breathless. I read what they say and can only say, "Wow!" It's easy for me to get down on myself because I don't write about God's Word and the power of Jesus as eloquently or as profoundly as they do, so why even bother?
God, being the awesome God that He is gave me another nugget of wisdom after He showed me how powerful HIS WORD can be if I pause and pray before I speak. This next nugget of wisdom came as I have been reading Paul's letters to the different churches.
I started with Romans, and part way into 1 Corinthians 1, I read in Chapter 2 these enlightening words from Paul (The guy who not that long before, was killing Christians for sport and is now writing letters that would shape the world's faith for centuries to come).
Paul to the church in Corinth:
When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power.
Paul's point is that unless the Holy Spirit works in a listener's heart, the wisdom and eloquence of a preacher (or writer) are ineffective. It was humbling to read that Paul, the author of much of the inspired Word, experienced weakness, fear, and trembling when it came to proclaiming the Good News. Paul turns the whole idea of "our" eloquence on its head...in fact...
If we resolve to make Christ, His life, and His teaching the sole subject of our words...then...the Holy Spirit can work in the hearts of our listeners. The Holy Spirit, not our words, does the convincing. Then, God is glorified...not us.
I don't know about you, but to me, that was a huge relief to know that someone else's coming to faith or growing in faith is not dependent upon my intellectual or oratorical ability. It doesn't depend on how beautifully my words flow onto the paper. It is really about sharing Christ (THE Word) and His words and then let the result be marked by the convincing demonstration of power by the Holy Spirit.
Yes, God can even use me!
I am truly learning that often, the less said the better. I'm choosing more carefully the words I speak. I am learning to pause and pray before opening my mouth or unleashing my fingers on the laptop keyboard.
I have also learned that people can argue theology until the cows come home, but they can't argue with my personal testimony of my personal relationship with Jesus and the hope I have within me, because of Him.
Basic, Simple, Truth, Less....it was good enough for Paul. Certainly, it's good enough for me.
Dear Heavenly Father, I praise you because I am "fearfully and wonderfully made". Your Word tells me that. Help me to know that my words, whether spoken or written, do not have to be perfect or eloquent in order for the Holy Spirit to use them to work in someone else's life. Help me to speak/write, just as I am, and trust the convincing work to you. Let my focus be less on my words and thoughts and more on Jesus' life and teaching. Help me to remember that there truly is power in your Word and it doesn't return void. Encourage me to speak naturally of the joy that is within me because of the wonderful things you have done for me. In Jesus' loving name I pray, Amen.
ps. Just a reminder that I pray for all who read this blog in the morning and in the evening. If there is something I can pray more specifically for you, don't hesitate to contact me...
Please check out "Missions" for updates on how we're doing getting sponsors for our precious children at Redeemer Christian School. God is good...