Recently a couple started coming to Church that I met a little over three years ago when my family moved to town. They knew I was a Pastor and we had mutual friends. Only one Sunday over this time had they visited Church or showed any interest. Then we launched two programs at Church, and suddenly they appeared and have been with us ever since.
This couple reminds me to take the long view of sharing our faith. Sometimes it takes years and years to break into someone’s life with the message of Jesus. I need to be continually reminded of a few truths.
1. The Rule of the Harvest. Farmers know that it takes three seasons to get a crop off a piece of land. You plant in the spring, water and fertilize in the summer and harvest in the fall. Growing something substantial takes time. Planting seeds of the gospel may not have any fruit for years to come; it might even take a lifetime.
2. Don’t Give Up on People. I think there is a natural tendency to stop talking with people about faith at some point in time. It may be after a series of rejections or we just simply get tired of seeing no response. Whatever the case, I often watch people stop talking to their family and friends about Jesus after a year or two. Stay strong, making an impact takes longer than you think.
3. Don’t Let Your Light Die. Jesus told his followers that they are the light of the world in Matthew chapter 5. Believers shine the light of faith into the darkness, and the darkness will not overcome it. Yet, I have observed Christians slowly let their light fade into a small flickering ember that barely shines. This happens when we ask someone, and they reject us. We take it personally. When that happens enough times, we just stop shining anymore. We don’t speak of faith, mention our Church and the name of Jesus is absent from our lips. Rage against the dying of the light.
4. Expect the Unexpected. I am amazed the number of times I have said, “They will never come to Church or care about faith.” Then one day they walk into a worship program. I had no idea God was working on them. Frequently their anti-Christian behavior is a plea for someone to truly show them, Jesus. No one is so far removed from God that he cannot reach them.
5. You Will Never Know How God Will Use You. The Apostle Paul makes an interesting statement to the Church in Corinth. He says that he planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. I recognize that other people may see a harvest for the kingdom of God because of the work that I did. You may share your faith over and over, and no one responds to you personally, but one day the door opens through someone else, and their life is changed. You may not oversee the harvest of souls; your job may be plant and water.
Talking to the man who came to our Church recently I was reminded of how God is working in ways I cannot imagine. My job is to be a great representative of his, wherever he has placed me. If I speak of my faith to others, one day someone’s life may know Jesus in a meaningful way.