A Tale of Evangelism God’s Way
John 4:35b …Behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.
James Cannon reached out his hand and hit the alarm right before the buzzer went off at 5:45. “This is the Day that the Lord has made, I will be glad and rejoice in it!” he declared confidently as his feet hit the floor. He was ready to begin the new day. He spent a brief time in prayer submitting his day to the Lord and then jumped in the shower. He had much to accomplish.
Before he began to shave he flipped on the radio. He immediately heard the voice of his favorite radio evangelist, who was in the middle of his message say,
“Sharing the Gospel is everyone’s responsibility but unfortunately many do not have it as a priority.” He then quoted Mark 16:15, “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”
James contemplated this as he shaved and listened intently to the rest of the message. He loved the Lord and the things of God. He loved His Church, but he had to admit He had not made sharing the Gospel a priority, and he could not count how many months, years, even, it had been since the last time he had told someone who was not a Christian about Jesus. As the message went on, he felt more convicted about this very fact. By the time he grabbed his keys, and went out to his car, he was ready to make a fresh commitment to share the Gospel with those around him. He prayed all the way through rush hour traffic as he went to work.
His morning went by uneventfully. The sales job was difficult, but he was catching on as well as could be expected, especially under the tutelage of Ben Steel the star salesperson on the team. Ben was a fortunate man who had a great marriage, a beautiful, sprawling home and two beautiful, well-adjusted children. He seemed to have everything. Everything that is, except the most important thing; a relationship with Jesus Christ. As a believer James felt he has an obligation to reach out to Ben, but he just did not know how. They spent many lunches talking easily about everything from their days at college to sports to family and children. James shared briefly one day that he was a Christian but Ben did not seem interested and quickly changed the subject.
Right before lunch James got a ping on his instant message account. It was Ben. “Want to grab a bite to eat?” he asked.
“Sure.”James fingers quickly pecked out in response, “Want to meet in ten?” It was go, and James quickly wrapped up the email he was working on. He got up and strode through the sea of cubicles to Ben’s desk. As he came up from behind, he was shocked to see that Ben was wiping away tears. He stopped short and walked away for a brief moment allowing some time to pass before he returned.
He wanted to reach out right then to his new friend, but thought better of it, since they were still in the office. He slowly walked back over.
“Ready?” He asked, as if he saw nothing.
Minutes later, they settled into a booth at a diner close to the office. As they sat there, James knew something was really wrong. James allowed the waitress to take their orders looked into Ben’s eyes intently “Is everything ok?”He asked.
“No” he said after a nervous sip of water, “I need someone to talk to and I feel I can confide in you. Can you keep this confidential?”
“You can trust that nothing that you say to me will go anywhere else.”
Ben leaned closer as he began to explain. He was having serious money problems from several bad personal investments.
“I feel so lost. How am I going to get out of this pit that I am in?”
It was a story James knew too well. Unbeknownst to Ben, he had walked the same path five years before, racking up several hundred thousand dollars in debt. Christ alone has pulled him out. He knew the power of God in this area, and had sat right where Ben sat now.
But even though he knew exactly what Ben needed fear gripped him. He wanted to share what God did for him but he did not know where to begin. Ben was his superior at work. If this conversation did not go well, it may not go well for his career. Negative thoughts flooded his mind.
“Where should I start?”
“He will not want to hear what I have to say. I am only a junior associate”
“What if he rejects me? I will lose a key relationship.”
His heart pounded and sweat began to bubble up on his brow. “Speak up!” he said to himself. Although he felt obligated to say something, he kept silent during lunch, just listening. In the end, he told Ben to keep his head up, that he would be thinking about him, and went back to work.
James settled back in at his desk, but he was kicking himself. “Keep your head up?”…”Thinking about him??” “Where did that come from?” he internally chastised himself, not realizing how politically correct he had become. There it was an awesome opportunity to share the love of God, and what does he do? He blew it! He made a few phone calls, and tried to get back into his work, but his mind stayed mostly on Ben. How could he stay silent? He felt like a failure to his friend and more importantly to God.
At home he made a simple dinner and continued working on a report he needed to finish. Before he went to bed he got on his knees.
“Father, he prayed, I am sorry that I disappointed you today. I know I missed an opportunity to witness to Ben. Lord, wash me in the blood of Jesus. I feel a special responsibility to talk to him about you. But I do not know how. I don’t know how to help him. Lord I feel so inadequate. Please give me a second chance.”
James got into bed and peacefully drifted off to sleep. Far, far above him, there was much activity going in the heavenlies, as the Lord Himself heard his prayer in the Throne Room. The Father addressed the Son, “Did you hear my servant James, who desires to see his friend saved? He has My desire for I long for all of my children to come to Me! That is why I gave You,My Son as an offering that the world would be saved through You!”
“Yes.” Replied Jesus, “He does well to hear My call for evangelism, but he is afraid, and taking all the responsibility on himself.”
“He needs to be reminded that it is not his responsibility to convince people,for I alone draw men to me, and I alone change and transform the heart of a man.” said the Lord.
“Amen Father. And that You do so well, Hallelujah!” Jesus praised exuberantly which began a thunder of praise from the countless number of angels that surrounded the throne for they were always ready to praise Him.
The Lord began to speak which brought everyone back to rapt attention. “Holy Spirit, instruct James. Give him My Words, and empower him to minister to Ben.”
“As You desire Lord. That is an excellent command as always!” This began another round of thunderous praise.
James eyes opened and looked at the clock. It was 2:10. He let out a sigh of relief because he still had a few hours left of sleep. He rearranged his pillows and closed his eyes, planning to pick up in his dreams right where he left off, but his mind went back to earlier in the day and his conversation, and lack of input with Ben. He reached over to his night table and turned on the night-light. He picked up his Bible and flipped it open, and his eyes immediately fell on Ephesians 2:10 that seemed to be illuminated on the page:
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
At the bottom of the page was a short devotion:
“God has already planned out or steps and the good works that He has called us to do. We only need to yield to Him and His plan and He accomplishes the work in us.”
James received these words into his spirit and closed his eyes. He asked the Lord to empower Him and slowly drifted off to sleep, as he felt the embrace of the Holy Spirit around him.
As the clock reached 5:45, James was sound asleep. He was exhausted, and hit the buzzer 2 or three times before he got up. After spending some time with the Lord, he flipped on the radio. There was the voice of his Pastor again, continuing his message on evangelism from the previous day. As James began to walk to the bathroom to turn on the shower, he heard the Pastor quoting Ephesians 2:10. James stopped in his tracks and turned back to the radio. That was the verse from last night! He listened with rapt attention as the Pastor said the next verse, out of Matthew 10 which talked about the Holy Spirit instructing believers on what they are to say even in times of persecution:
But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you. Matthew 10:19-20
He then said, “Only God can draw a man to Himself and give him a desire for the things of God. You only need to allow God to direct you in the small part that you are to play. He will give you what to say, and you can be confident to leave the outcome up to Him.”
When James got to the office he went straight to Ben’s desk intending to invite him to lunch but he was not there. As he walked past his boss’s office, he overheard that Ben was as the hospital.
James heart sank fearing the worst. “I had a prime opportunity with Ben, and now he is in the hospital! What if it is serious? I really blew it!”
“Well, “ he thought with determination, “Maybe not.” After saying a few words to Richard, his boss, He ran out the door headed to the only hospital in town; County General. As he sped through town, he felt empowered, and emboldened by forces unseen. The revolving doors emptied him into the well-lit lobby. He immediately saw Ben who was standing near the Reception Desk. He smiled, but seemed surprised to see him. “James?” he asked quizzically, “What are you doing here?”
An out of breath James, who was expecting to see Ben on a stretcher, answered by asking, “Is everything alright?”
“Yes,” Ben said. “Actually it is great! My sister just gave birth to twins today!”
James flushed, and wiped his brow. “Well, I came to see about you, I just happened to be passing by Richard’s office when I overheard that you were at the hospital. I was worried something serious happened so I came right over.”
“Oh, wow! Well it was great of you to come. I am glad you did because I really could use a friend right now with everything else going on” James said motioning Ben to a seat. “We can talk until my sister is ready to see me.”
James sat down and said, “Well I am so glad that we do have time to talk, because you have been weighing heavily on my mind since our conversation yesterday. I have a confession to make. I was just where you were 5 years ago, in worse debt than you.
Ben looked dumbfounded. “You were?”
“Yes. I was. And I would still be there if it wasn’t for Jesus Christ in my life.”
Ben’s listened intently James went on to share his struggle and what God did, and how his life is different today.
When James finished, there was a long silence.
Ben’s voice shook slightly as he began to speak. “I don’t think it is by chance that I came to you. The other day I felt so desperate, that I got on my knees to pray. I did not even know how. But I was longing for one thing, someone to confide in; someone who could help me through this. After I got up, you were the only person that came to mind. I don’t even understand this God thing, but it sure does seem like He answered me.”
“That He did,” James said solemnly. “And that He will continue to do.” James put his hand on Ben’s shoulder, as he began to share the Lord and pray with Ben. He had done God’s will, but felt more blessed by what he had learned in the last two days, as he heard and obeyed God. They were timely lessons he knew he would never forget.
Wow … I am reminded something good is always around the corner … With each release .. Meaning your writing .. This is amazing!
Thank you sis! Love walking with you on this journey…