Friday, May 21, 2010

Open Up Your Mouth and Speak

God couldn't have been more clear about my life purpose. "Open up your mouth and speak the message of the gospel to lost souls you meet."

THAT was the point it all hinged on. I thought I was a missionary when I was in Spain--I claimed to be one--I lived like a Christian--I was active in church--I passed out tracts--I visited the hospital--I did Bible studies--I led the choir--I looked for ways to do ministry. But when it came to that one thing, my lips were sealed. Down in the core of my being, I was profoundly unwilling to do one thing: activate my vocal chords for the advancement of God's kingdom.


Why would I balk at that? It should have been so simple. I talked freely and easily about anything else. Small talk, sports, politics, TV, movies, music, ideas, relationships, all came to my lips unhindered and poured out in a fluent stream as I tried to be friendly to people I met and strike up conversations "that could lead to spiritual things." I would even consciously try to coax the conversation around to making the perfect setup for linking into the gospel--where just one phrase would transition us as naturally as can be into talking about the Lord. Let's say you're talking about gardening. You say something like "Have you ever thought of the world as a garden, with people growing in it?" so that they can make a comment along those lines, which you will respond with, "It reminds me of Jesus's parable of the sower. Have you ever heard that parable?" Then you can take it from there (depending on their responses) and use that parable to explain the gospel message or ask them what kind of ground they think they are.

I got lots of these opportunities. I failed to take up any of them. The Lord would drop a perfect situation into my lap, as perfect a setup as I could wish, where all I had to do was insert that one key phrase and go from there. And every time, I would toss that phrase away and select something else, something safe, something trite or flippant or lighthearted, that would steer me away from the "danger zone" I had approached so closely.

Why, though? That was so stupid. I knew it was stupid. I would berate myself for it afterwards. Opportunities to rescue people's precious souls, just thrown out.

God called me to open up my mouth and speak, but something was stopping me. I didn't really even know what it was.

One day, he very cleverly trapped me in a real-life situation to show me exactly what the problem was.

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