My boys have a real admiration for Bethany Hamilton, the shark attack survivor, pro surfer and lover of Jesus Christ. It’s easy to understand why. I greatly admire this young woman too. Since the shark attack in 2003 she has had numerous opportunities to talk on TV chat shows, as well as public events and conferences, where she unashamedly tells people that she loves Jesus Christ, that God has a plan for her life and that she is determined to live for Him.
Not all of us have a similar viewing audience of millions, but we do all have an audience watching us. I don't know about you, but I feel totally inadequate telling people about Jesus.
I’ve been reading, “In the Land of the Blue Burqas” recently and I’ve come to realise that I have a badly warped understanding of what witnessing really is. I keep on wondering what, if any impact I have had on my non Christian friends. The author Kate McCord (protective pseudonym) tells about living for 5 years in
where she often spoke
to dear men and women who were convinced their faith was true and hers was false.
Facing this, she never stops talking about Honourable Jesus. I imagine discouragement
would be lurking close by, if clocking up numbers for 'converts to the Way', was
her measure of success, but she did shed light and when light is present
darkness recedes. She explains it this way; "Each
time we see or hear or in some way grasp a teaching or revelation of Christ, we
are drawn out of an area of darkness within our lives, into His light and truth,
into His beautiful kingdom." Afghanistan
Rather than thinking I'm only a link in the chain, it’s God who is seeking and saving the lost, we can mistakenly think it’s our job to 'close the deal' and get them ‘across the line’. Remember it is NOT our job to convict, that's the Holy Spirit's job'. We are called to faithfully proclaim Christ Jesus as Saviour and Lord. Rom 10:13-15. We/I need to keep in mind that only God draws people to Himself. I am a tool. He may use me, if only I'd open my mouth and proclaim Him without fear or impatience.
Faith is a journey. In her book Katie McCord puts it this way;
"Sometimes we imagine that all that is good in God as revealed in Christ only belongs to those who've adopted a complete framework of theological beliefs. We imagine that until a person understands and confesses belief that Jesus is God, that He died on the cross for our sins and rose the third day, the teachings and blessings of God remain inaccessible. We sometimes make the mistake of viewing ourselves and others as either in or out, as either wearing our team's jersey or not wearing it."
I need to remember that I’m not a recruiter, I’m a fellow sojourner, who should lay down the fear of man and tell of my joy in Christ as lover of my soul, generous giver of grace and mercy. I can see that when I take my eyes off my joy, witnessing turns into a job. Well you know what, I want to lose this sense of guilt about having to tell others about God and replace it with a genuine joy that I get the opportunity to give testimony to the greatness of God expressed through Christ’s love on the cross and the patient, yet powerful work of the Holy Spirit in my life.
As this perspective changes for me, can I see my place as that of a torchbearer showing the light of Christ and so His truth goes to work, lighting up one small portion of the pathway on another's faith journey. Of course I could try and redouble my efforts and just grit my teeth and try harder as the guilt quotient rises, but it won't be enough, in fact nothing I do will. It is only through the power of the Holy Spirit that I can open my mouth when fear is rising in my throat, or when impatience is wanting everyone on my team - now.
I need to constantly remind myself that it's not my job to convict nor is it to persuade, it's my joy to proclaim by words and actions. Bethany Hamilton at age 13 couldn't help tell people that her faith in Jesus Christ got her through such a devastating time. Ten years on, she is still sharing her joy. She can't help herself. She's not trying to sell anything, convince anyone of anything, she is boldly telling her story of what a faithful God has done in her life. Do we dare to desire the power of the Holy Spirit to also fill us with joy overflowing and boldness mixed with love?