Navigate: Born Again: The Complete Works
It had been nearly a quarter century since Sharon and I had gone our separate ways, but suddenly I felt time pressing on me. In part it was my excitement at seeing her draw near the point of decision, but I also sensed her anxiety at knowing she had business to do with God. She was looking to me to guide her, and I was 3,000 miles away. The wonder of technology had compressed the distance, but still ...
On the other hand, a part of me can be surprisingly (even disturbingly) ambivalent about leading people to Christ. Having seen enough "prayers to receive Christ" upon which time and lack of fruitfulness later cast doubt, I'm biased toward slowness. This is also wired into my personality and my own gradual, deliberate, and rather cerebral Orthodox Presbyterian path to salvation. Oh, and did I mention I can be kind-of a coward? Despite my moniker, were the actual Philippian Jailer to cast himself at my feet and cry "What must I do to be saved?", I suspect I would send him away with homework to make sure he was serious.
Anyway, I was still in second gear, which I'd reached more as a result of Sharon's white-unto-harvest eagerness than by any inner boldness on my part. I was trying to help my friend establish a foundation for faith by sending her little notes of encouragement:
“The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.” (1 Timothy 1:14-16)One thing I love about new believers is how they get excited about the very things all of us "mature" guys should be excited about. Whereas my faith can seem tired and worn, Sharon expressed a child-like excitement at hearing the truth that I'm supposed to retain:
Dear Sharon … thinking of and praying for you this morning.
I certainly wasn't having a patience problem yet. In fact, the depth of her self-awareness and determination to engage with God were really motivating. I was also thinking to myself that evangelism is supposed to be harder than this. Or maybe we just make it seem harder by trying to force God to react to our little manipulative tricks and methods. Regardless, God was clearly at work in Sharon's heart in a remarkable way--and had been for some time before I showed back up. My job was straightforward: guide her by following Him.You ALWAYS seem to know which verse to pick out from THE BOOK to make sense of the day. Thanks! I’ll keep reciting it all day. :)“....so that....Christ Jesus might display his immense patience”. Seriously, sometimes I think that HE WILL lose patience with me because I’m constantly battling with HIM all the time...
Please don’t lose patience with me because I know I may become your biggest challenge.
Next: Born Again 6: The Harsh Truth that Gets in your Guts