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Sunday, February 20, 2005

Evangelism Under the Sovereignty of God

(This is not so much a question, although if I am on the wrong track, please be bold to admonish).

I do not believe that you can push someone away from God if He is drawing them.

I base this opening statement on scripture as well as personal experience. Jesus said that no one comes to him except the Father draws him. A sermon is preached, a tragedy occurs, a Bible is read and one person, convicted of sin turns and cries out to God while another is left unaffected.

For years, I struggled with my husband regarding spiritual truths. For years I failed daily regarding winning him over with any semblence of a gentle and quiet spirit. Then, suddenly the things he used to pick apart, he is at peace with. Suddenly those things he hated, he loves. Did I finally convince him? No, I don't think so. Who changed his heart? Only God can change a heart. Only God can bring to life that which is dead.

God saved my husband in spite of me.

I do, however believe that you can shirk your God-given responsibilities. It is very fair to say that my lack of peace during these times was sinful. My defensiveness and arguementative attitude did not grace the Gospel. Shame on me. Did I interfere with God's plans?...slow Him down? I am too human to answer that question. I do know that I repented of these things. They were not right, but I don't think that I thwarted God's plans.

If I have been given a message, and a person to whom to give it and I do it, however lamely, I have done what I am supposed to do. I am absolutely positive that Jonah's message to the Ninevites was less than stirring. He did not want to give the message, and did not desire a positive effect. And yet they repented in droves!

If God is drawing them, they will come at God's call. Just like Esther observed, if I do not speak, He will save His people, and He will use someone else; and woe, woe to me!

If God is not drawing them, no matter how eloquently or poorly I may have spoken, they will not come. If I speak, I have done what I had the responsibility to do. You and I might think that I pushed them away, or that my timing was off, or that my message was too soft or too hard, and I let a fish get away.

More often than not, it is not that my message is too soft or too hard or too early or too late, but that it is not.

God has given us two really good girls. These days the pretty good kids are not in prison, expelled from school or pregnant. I've got really good, trustworthy girls, and I am thankful for them.

As a Christian parent, I have failed in many ways. The most prominent is that I did not instruct when we arose and when we sat down and when we went along the way (you know, all the time) Deuteronomy 11:19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. I was silent when I should have spoken. The holiness and reality of God, I have not made obvious and extolled. There are life lessons, and reasons for ways I think and decisions I've made and things that I stay away from, that I think out on the inside, but I don't speak them out. When my kids were under 10 years old, they heard it a lot more; I lost some really critical years in discouragement-induced silence, and now no one wants to hear it. That's my point of view.

What does God see? HE sees the beginning and the end. He is the beginning and the end.

I can only go from here, crying out to God, my Savior. I can talk about God's ways and laws and decrees and the depth of the wonder of Him when we sit at home or ride in the van or go to bed and when we get up. That's what I can do, with God's grace. What I can't do is change their hearts. Only God can do that.

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