At 12, I thought my life was over when he died on the gym floor at my sports banquet. My dad meant the world to me. After he was disabled with heart disease, he became a stay-at-home dad, long before it was posh. He chaperoned school field trips. When I made the basketball team, every afternoon after school he took me and a chaise lounge to the neighbor’s house so I could practice my shots. His absence left a hole in my life that felt so deep and so dark that I thought I would never be able to breathe easy again. A few months later, someone found me in this dark place. He invited me to heal. He showed me I could love again. His name was Jesus.
I’ve had a zeal for Jesus ever since that day. I want everyone to know how awesome He is. As a youngster of 12, I wasn’t subtle in my attempts to share the gospel. My immature theology was a bit twisted. I thought that if I didn’t tell people about Jesus, they would remain in their dark hole. I knew what that darkness felt like, and I didn’t want it for anyone. There wasn’t anything wrong with my desire. The tangled part was that I thought that if a person was in my life, it was my responsibility to bring him out of the darkness. This was a lot of pressure for a 12-year-old girl. It was a lot of pressure for a 40-year-old woman. I never felt at ease.
Then, one day, I met a teacher who untangled the messy ideas that evolved over 30 years of my life. He opened up the scriptures and showed me the freedom that was already mine.
I learned that it is my responsibility to love and help those in my life, as well as share the gospel story, but I can’t save them from their dark pit. It is God’s responsibility to open up their minds and hearts to the reality of His story.
In His great love for His kingdom, this great king has chosen to have His people participate with Him as He goes about rescuing His children. This is an exciting privilege and a much easier way to live my life than when I felt responsible to change their hearts.
The great commission, in Matthew 28, tells all Christians to go and tell the world about Jesus. Now, I am free to do this without the burden of the outcome resting on my shoulders.
With a detangled theology, I found 4 truths that make obeying the great commission a pleasure, instead of a chore.
- REST: Belief that the power to save lives belongs to God frees me to make friends, share my life with them, listen to their hopes and dreams, and help when they are hurting.
- PRAY: God asks us to participate with Him to spread His kingdom. How awesome is that! We get to work with a real King every day. If I embrace the fact that God, through the Holy Spirit, changes lives, and that He asks me to help in the process, then I want to talk to Him about this. I want to ask Him for ways that I can love the people He puts in my life. I want to ask Him to show Himself to them and make a difference in their lives. It’s an ongoing, never-ending conversation that I absolutely love.
- SHOW: 93% of communication is non-verbal. That’s really amazing to me. In light of that, watching and listening to what my friends aren’t saying with their words becomes extremely important if I want to love them in ways that personally matter. As a 12-year-old on fire for the Lord, I had no concept of this. I blurted out the truth as if it were a life-or-death situation. When your friend has a broken leg, she needs a hospital. She needs someone to take care of her children. She needs to know she isn’t alone. If I am willing to love her in this way, one day, when the Holy Spirit opens a door for me to share His story with her, she might listen. If I bludgeon her with the gospel as she writhes in pain from her broken leg, she will probably secretly hope she never lays eyes on me again.
- TELL: For 30 years, I thought that the way I used my words would either lead someone to know Jesus, or I would mess things up. What was my response? Anxiety, fear, sometimes even dread. Learning that God takes my actions and words and turns them into useful tools, tools He causes to affect the hearts of His children, makes things easier. However, I still speak too soon. It’s more for the excitement of it all now, than a fear that you won’t be able to become a Christian if I don’t do my job.
In hindsight, the way I used to think seems so ludicrous. How in the world can a human do magic in the heart of another person?
The cool thing is that God takes my actions and words and causes them to have supernatural power to bring about the things He wants to happen. I don’t know about you, but I find this exhilarating!
How do you share your faith?