I was tired and hot and wanted to lie down. I didn’t care about who needed to hear the Gospel this day because I wanted a nap. But seventeen men had taken a powder from their Men’s Retreat for an evangelism excursion into Lake Arrowhead, so I couldn’t let them down. And wouldn’t you know it? God didn’t allow me rest; instead, He did something wonderful…
I don’t always want to share the Gospel; most days I would prefer to let someone else do it. The dread of having to always walk through a new wall of faith each time I hand out a Gospel tract or share about Christ can be terribly burdensome. It’s inconvenient, awkward, and sometimes just plain embarassing to let people know that they are headed for Hell because of their sin and that they need Jesus to save them—I just don’t want to do it some days.
At times I’d love to have a normal life, a calm life, a peaceful, innocuous life, where I can just sit in my backyard listening to the birds singing, and worship alone. Oh! For the soft life of a pew-sitter. I would just love to be religious, do a few dutiful good works, and be left alone: just me and my God.
But I can’t. I’m compelled to preach the Gospel!
I take great comfort from the writings of John Wesley, that great preacher during the Great Awakening in the 18th century, who felt the same way on occasion.
As an experiment he chose to not talk about the things of God for two days unless he felt like it. He learned 3 things:
1.) “That I spoke to none at all for [eighty] miles together; no not even to him who traveled with me in the [carriage, except for a few words as we started out];
2.) “That I had no cross to bear or to take up, and commonly, in an hour or two, fell fast asleep;
3.) “That I had much respect shown me wherever I came, everyone behaving to me as to a civil, good-natured gentleman.”
The seventeen men were promised that they’d be out for only an hour. Every five minutes I glanced at the time, wishing the hour to end because I was bored; it was 90 degrees; I was thirsty, tired, grumpy—time to head back to the van! Let’s retreat back to the Retreat, men!
I leaned back in the driver’s seat; a few of the men waited with me, as we all waited for the rest of the evangelists to return. C’mon guys, hurry up! I was impatient, sleepy, sweaty, dehydrated—and rightly and justly irritated that the guys were taking their precious sweet time conversing about eternal things while I battled exhaustion, nausea, heatstroke and vertigo. Through my half-lidded state, I peered out the front window of the van. HORRORS! One of the men was bringing back a stranger—and they were headed to the driver’s side—my side—and…and… wanting to talk to me!
The stranger was down on his luck; hard times had befallen him. I smiled grudgingly, rolling down my window. After a bit of small talk I got to the point: the million-dollar question: “If you were to die today, would you go to Heaven or Hell?”
I don’t remember the exact conversation, fatigued and fuzzy-headed as I was, but I do remember this: His tears rolling down his face after hearing that God can forgive all his sins, and his enthusiasm when grabbing my hands to pray for God’s forgiveness.
I’ll also never forget him walking away from the van, drying the tears from his face, smiling, then suddenly turning around and grabbing my hand—and kissing it!
I wasn’t tired anymore! Heck no! I was filled with the Holy Spirit! The heavens opened, the radiance of God’s glory shone all around and the angels rejoiced!
I was now Father Steve!