Trail Guide–Directions for the Journey of a Lifetime XIV
The Sixth Step on the Trail – Getting Others to Join You on the Hike
Facing our Fears
My heart was racing. I was pretty sure it was going to just rupture my chest cavity and escape my body, perhaps leaping off the cliff in front of me. It was the day and location I had chosen to “pop the question” to the girl I had fallen head over heels for. I had been totally certain about what her answer would be, right up to the moment when I was about to ask. I had made the preparations, practiced, and planned, but I had not counted on the terror that came just seconds before the moment of truth.
Happily, after more than twenty years together, I can report that my beloved said yes. We began an incredible journey together that day, one that has had its share of valleys and peaks. I can’t imagine traveling this trail without her. Hopefully she would say the same about me.
Inviting others on the Trail
The fear that I faced that day at the overlook can be very similar to the fear that comes when the opportunity to share your faith with someone presents itself. We think we know how the person will respond. We might prepare, practice, and plan beforehand. Then the moment arrives and a terror takes over and we find ourselves slinking off to hide instead of inviting them along.
The Importance of Inviting Others Along
Spend just a little time in a Bible preaching church and you will hear about the importance of something called evangelism. Evangelism is a pretty key part of who we are as followers of Jesus Christ. Here is what it’s all about:
Evangelism – from the Greek word “evangel” which means “Good News.” It is literally the telling of the good news contained in the story of Jesus Christ. The first four books of the New Testament are known as the Gospels and they are literally the evangelists of the New Testament because they tell the story of Jesus.
Great Commission – This is the command which appears in the four Gospels, and in the book of Acts, where Jesus tells His followers, and by connection you and me, to go and tell His story to the world. In your Bible look up the following Great Commission passages and high light them as you read them.
- Matthew 28.18-20
- Mark 16.15
- Luke 24.45-48
- John 20.21-22
- Acts 1.8
Can you see the importance that Jesus placed on telling His story?
Inviting Fellow-Travelers Onto the Trail
Suppose you are hiking along and you encounter someone on the trial who has lost their way. Maybe the compass they have been using was dropped in a lake, or the map they were using accidentally burned up in the campfire last night. Whatever has happened, you find them in a time of desperation. Unsure of how to proceed, they may be wandering in circles, or on the verge of totally giving up. Here’s the awesome thing: YOU KNOW THE WAY! Would you be able to live with yourself if you simply walked on by and left them scrambling about without guidance? I don’t believe you could. Think about this passage of Scripture:
- Matthew 9:36-38 (NLT)
- He (Jesus) felt great pity for the crowds that came, because their problems were so great and they didn’t know where to go for help. They were like sheep without a shepherd. He said to his disciples, “The harvest is so great, but the workers are so few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send out more workers for his fields.”
Jesus was moved with compassion when He saw people in the state of confusion and lostness, and He would move you as well. He had His followers pray for workers to go out into the harvest, and there you are in the middle of it all.
How Can You Tell His Story and Invite Others Along?
Look back at the first step on the trail. You should have taken a moment to write down some brief elements of your story at the end of that lesson. Your life before you met Jesus. How you came to know you needed Jesus. What your life has been like since believing in Jesus. Telling what Jesus has meant in your life is a great way of getting the conversation started, and it’s something that you should know better than anyone else.
Some Common Fears
What if they ask me a question I can’t Answer?
No one has all the answers, so don’t be afraid. Simply and honestly respond that you do not know. You can also offer to pray and seek an answer for it. Amazingly, you will discover that God graciously provides us with answers.
What if they are not willing to talk with me about it?
For a long time I felt rejected when someone refused to let me share with them about the Lord. I would get shot down and feel like I had failed in some way to do or say the right thing. In the end, however, I had to realize that they were not rejecting me, but God. That gave me a different perspective on things, and greater compassion for the person turning away.
What if they threaten me or get angry?
Having someone reject is one thing, but facing someone who is angry or threatening is a whole different experience. This can be incredible challenging and frightening. I have never faced a time when I felt like my life was in danger, but I have dealt with people who threatened me with any number of responses. All we can really do is pray during these times. I take courage from the experience of the early evangelists in the book of Acts. Read Acts 4 in your Bible and see the response as they were threatened, paying close attention to their prayer.
Do you notice a common thread in these fears? They are all what I call the “What If” fears. The reality is that we really don’t have any way of knowing what will happen, and ultimately it is all in the hands of God. The One true God, who desires that all men be saved. He’s the one who has promised He would be with us as we go out and tell His story. We can trust Him.
Years ago I was selling KIRBY sweepers door to door. I remember many times walking up to a door convinced that there was a mean and angry person on the other side of the door who would probably be armed and have me down before I could knock on the door. Obviously that was never the reality. There were plenty of doors slammed in my face. But there were also many of those doors that opened up and eventually lead to a sale. I learned to be very careful not to let my fears keep me from at least knocking on the door. And that’s what we need to do…simply knock on the door and see.
How Do We Invite Someone to Join us on the Trail?
Each encounter and experience will be different because each person is different. However, there will be some common elements that we can practice as we go about inviting people to join us.
Pray – Jesus told the disciples that they would receive power and then would be His witnesses. To me this means that we don’t have what we need for this task without Him, so we need to be involved with Him in the process. This happens as we pray.
- Pray for Yourself to be Prepared
- Pray for The Person you will be Telling the Story
- Pray for Wisdom and Words to be Provided
Practice – There is nothing wrong with practicing your story. You want to be able to share it naturally and freely. Write it and recite it. A good exercise is to get with another Christian and just tell each other your Jesus’ story.
Press On – Then it is time to go and tell the story. God will provide you with opportunities to invite others along, so seize those opportunities. Go to people with the openness that you will let them know how they can get on the trail.
The Harvest is Plentiful – Head Out Into the Harvest
(to be continued)