Or do you till the soil?
Do you water those plants and tend to them and take care of the soil?
Or are you one of those people who reap the harvest?
Each one of these types of people are involved in leading someone into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Everyone plays a specific role, whether we realize it or not. The “not realizing it” part can be rather damaging if we are not focused on living for Christ. No matter who you are or where you go, whether you are a Christian or not, your life, your actions will have some sort of an impact on someone’s life.
And you may not even impact that person directly. I went on a Men’s Retreat Weekend over two years ago. I had just moved here and I didn’t yet know hardly anyone. While on this retreat, I received some letters, notes and words of encouragement from people I had never met. The names on those things meant nothing to me. I didn’t know them.
One of the things I received was a small card, about the size of a business card, that said,
“For I know the plans I have for you,”
declares the Lord….
“plans to give you hope and a future.”
The card had the names of the couple who sent it to me on the back.
I found that card a couple of days ago while cleaning out an old drawer full of stuff. (Yes ladies, sometimes we do clean out “that drawer”). I remembered receiving it a couple of years ago and noticed the names on the back. These two people are now in my Life Group and have become very dear friends. The sermon this weekend was also about knowing God’s purpose for your life.
So you just never know how what seemingly little things you do may affect someone else. Even years down the road. They had a planted a seed long before we all became friends. And it is still growing.
Most of my life, I have been a seed planter. Sometimes God uses me to water the seeds and sometimes to tend the soil, but I am normally not the one who reaps the harvest.
What I mean by that “farming” reference is that I usually find myself in a servant role. Helping others, talking to them or counseling them or just an act of anonymous servant-hood. That last one I like the best. I like doing things for people without them knowing it was me who did it. But once in a while, I like the idea of reaping the harvest. Closing the deal. Being the one who helps someone pray the sinner’s prayer and lead them to Christ.
I have been a Christian for 32 years and I have only led three people to Christ. Two of them are my children. God blessed me with the joy of being there when they each made that decision and said, “Daddy, will you pray with me so I can know Jesus and someday live with Him in Heaven?”
And that got me to thinking about Charles. In May of 1994, me, my brother, my step-dad and my two cousins all went to the Promise Keepers event at the Anaheim Stadium in Southern California. Five grown men in our mid to early thirties (except dad who is just an old fart). It was a great weekend and the stadium had mostly survived the 1994 L.A. earthquake (in January). One of the talks we heard was about how we can miss the blessing of sharing Christ with someone because we are either too afraid or maybe we simply weren’t paying attention. It made me sick to think of all the opportunities I was aware of that I had let slip by because I was too afraid to speak up. Fear of rejection, not knowing what to say, and a number of other poor excuses came to mind. I made the decision to be bold in my faith and never let another opportunity pass me by. If I miss the blessing, God may simply give it to someone else. During the weekend, I had asked God for the opportunity to lead someone to Jesus.
The last night of the weekend, as things were winding down, we had positioned ourselves on the front row of our section right next to the exit. The closing speaker had asked each of us to turn to someone next to us and share with them how this weekend has affected our lives and what we plan to do to keep this fire burning within us. We had already hopped over the railing and were standing near the exit tunnel. It was already kind of dark.
We turned around and there, standing right in front of my brother, staring him straight in the face, was a black man about our age. It seemed as though he had appeared out of nowhere. The man said, “My name is Charles Street. I have been working the concession stand just inside this entrance. I have been listening to you guys praising and worshipping God for the last three days, and I want what you have.”
I was so excited I almost wet myself. I had asked God for an opportunity and here He was testing me to find out if I meant it.
My older brother’s eyes were huge and he had that “deer in the headlights” look. I introduced myself to Charles and shook his hand. We exchanged information and got his phone number since he said he needed to get back to work. My brother and I looked at each other in disbelief at what had just happened. When we turned back to Charles, he was gone. As quickly as he had appeared, he had vanished. By this time the event was over and we were leaving. We looked around for Charles but we couldn’t find him anywhere.
My older brother Steve, and I worked on the LA subway tunnels project together and after work the next day, went home and called the number Charles gave us. We made arrangements to meet Charles at a “Big Boy” restaurant in Glendale the next night after work.
It was nice to see Charles in person again and confirm that he is indeed a real life person and we had not just imagined meeting him at Promise Keepers.
Charles and Steve hit it off right away and started talking about cars and engines and other cool stuff I never cared too much about. All the while I kept thinking “Hey! This isn’t what we are here for! We’re here to lead Charles to Christ. We shouldn’t be wasting our time with all this other nonsense!”
I was getting annoyed at my brother for wasting our time and I got annoyed at myself for allowing him to ruin MY opportunity to show God that I could do this!
It was all about me. It was supposed to be all about God.
While those two motor-heads were still talking, I closed my eyes and asked God for guidance. I asked Him to have the Holy Spirit take over because I did not know what to do. And He did.
Once those two stopped talking long enough to take a breath, I looked at Charles and I asked him, “Charles, do you want to know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior?”
Charles looked at me and his expression changed to a more solemn look and his eyes began to well up and he said, “Yes. Yes I do. Please tell me how.”
We talked some more and then we prayed together and that night, in a Big Boy restaurant in Glendale, Charles Street gave his life over to Jesus.
A couple of weeks later I returned to Texas to finish school and I have since lost touch with Charles. I used his real name here in the chance that someone reading this might know who he is and could tell me how he is doing. I think of him often, pray for him and wonder how he is doing.
I’m still planting seeds. I still water them and tend the soil. I keep doing what God has for me to do and if He ever sees fit for me to pray that prayer with someone and lead them to Christ, I am ready, willing and able. Either way, I am happy to be at whatever point on someone’s journey on their way to knowing Jesus, as God desires for me to be.
And if no one remembers me, that’s okay, as long as they do remember the One who sent me.
So, how is God using you?
Planting, watering, tilling, cultivating, harvesting?
Your life is a reflection of your relationship to Jesus.
That reminds me, I need to go love on my family now.