My pastor always talks about being on post, not abandoning your place until God sends you. Well, for the past two days, the Lord has been increasing my awareness of the importance of this principal in the Christian walk.
The first incident hurt. But it was instructive.
I was riding on the train home last night, and saw some kids waiting for the train on the platform. I had a few tracts left and decided to give them to them. But they boarded the car behind me (which I knew they would do, from their position on the platform, and I boarded it right behind them.
Suddenly, I felt out of place. They had seen me watching them, apparently, and were watching me too. When I finally approached to try to give them the tracts, their chaperone rebuffed me. Stunned, I had to stand down.
Now, why did this happen? Because they just knew that I was a Christian? No. They had no idea what I was trying to give them. They just didn't like my approach. Now, if ever they see me and remember me, there is a bad -- or at least shaky--memory of me, which could further hinder the Gospel.
But why did this happen? It almost never does. Well, it happened because I didn't ask the Lord to open their hearts and hands before I endeavored to hand them the tracts. "Not by might, nor by power[, nor by tracts], but by My Spirit, says the Lord." (Zech 4:6). "For without Me, ye can do nothing." (John 15:5). By relying on my own power to give away tracts, and not asking God to prepare the way, I shot myself in the foot.
Now for more pleasant experience:
A few weeks ago, I had a rather pleasant conversation with a young lady who will be getting married soon. I never did get to discuss the Gospel with her, but I do believe that she has heard me preach before. I saw her on the train this morning, and I wanted to talk to her. The Lord told me to stay in my seat. This time I listened.
Previously, when I saw someone that I wanted to talk to, I would usually just get up and go see them. Then I would wonder why I was struggling to have conversations with people about the Gospel. This time I stood down, because of the Lord's instruction. Watch what He did:
There was a young man who boarded the train and came to sit behind me (I was facing backwards in the short section of the rear car). I turned to see that his arm was in a sling. I asked him what happened. He told me about the bicycle incident that shattered his collarbone. I noted that it almost took his life, too--which is why he put his arm out to stop his fall. I started to use Ray Comfort's line, "So what if you had died?" but that is not my style. As David told Saul, "I am not used to these." Not being skilled with that line, I introduced myself instead. We talked about work for another minute or so. And then I asked him about the Good Person Test.
That is my area of strength. I cannot use Ray's lines, but I can use what God has given me.
So we talked about the Good Person Test. He did not like the idea that we are evil at heart. He insisted that our evil traits are learned behavior. I (kindly) disputed his theory: "No one told me to lie, my mom told me not to take the candy, nobody had to teach me how to hate." He objected: "But we are all doomed under Adam." "Yes, but we consent to the sin of Adam by walking in rebellion everyday."
By this time, there was a considerable crowd around us. One young lady even sat down right beside me as I contined to try to explain the holiness of God vs. our wickedness before Him. One young man sat down behind Brandon as we talked and seemed to hang on every word. None of this would have happened if I had moved to talk to the young lady.
Brandon remained unconvinced as he departed the train. I gave him everything he needed to know, including the Gospel (though, that was mainly for the benefit of those around us, don't know if I would have given it to him otherwise). But I cannot change the heart of anyone who is unwilling to hear the truth.
Funny thing I noticed much further down the line: There was a lady who was sitting across the aisle and two rows "behind" me who seemed to disappear when the train stopped and I started talking to Brandon about the Good Person Test. I thought she had left the train. No: She had moved because she didn't want to hear it! Praise God, too, because there was a young black woman who sat in that spot and did hear it. Every word.
Even more encouraging was seeing a young lady who usually wears her headphones when she is on the train. I had given her a gospel tract once before, and she didn't seem so hostile after that. Now I know she is not hostile to the Gospel, because she didn't even reach for her headphones while I was talking to Brandon. She hung on every word. When she got off at her stop, I bid her have a great day, and, at first, she didn't hear me. If she hated me, she would not have cared. But she asked what I had said, and I got to repeat it, and she responded in kind. I begged the Lord many times for an opportunity to witness to her. Now, I've effectively done it twice.
"Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord." (Zech 4:6)