My church's VBS starts this week! 200+ kids will enter the church tonight ready to learn how to STAND STRONG for God. They will be eager and energetic, loud and rambunctious. And it is my hope that they will soak up like a sponge all that we tell them.
I get to help in the drama story each day. And I have to admit, I kind of love it! I have a recurring character that I have played every year for going on four years now. I get to talk with a funny accent, be silly, and make kids laugh. All while sharing the love of God with them. This is one of my favorite weeks all summer long!
But you want to know something truly ironic? Sharing my faith with others is one of the hardest aspects of being a Christian for me. Really I mean that! Not at VBS, when I am playing a character and the kids are here knowing they are going to hear the word of God. Not now, when I am writing, and you pretty much know what you are going to get when you log onto a blog from someone going to seminary. Not when I am speaking at a church or to the youth, when I have been asked to give a biblical message. But in my every day life, with everyday people, my neighbors and friends who I know don't go to church, who I know don't believe what I believe, I have the HARDEST time sharing my faith!!
I KNOW, I KNOW!! That is when it matters the most! THOSE are the people who need to hear the word, to know WHY I love the Lord the way I love him. But it is hard! Even for me, someone who has never been afraid to share her opinion. I think my hang up is that I desperately want to share my faith with gentleness and respect and I am terrified that if I share what I believe with them they will feel judged, even when NO judgement is involved. So I don't. I don't share, and they don't feel judged and we go on, just like we always have, me believing and them not. Me knowing that I will have eternal life and them thinking that maybe the will, but probably they won't.
These are people I love. People who need Christ. Yet I don't want to rock the boat, so I don't share. I keep quiet.
A few days ago I stumbled across some old sermon notes in my Bible. Another one of Pastor Jim's amazing messages summarized on a torn piece of paper and stuffed in my Bible. It was all about the harvest.
Now I spent 18 years of my life in a farming community. I know something about harvest time. And what he said, struck such a chord that I was convicted of it all over again when I read my notes.
In Luke 10 Jesus is sending 72 disciples out to share the message and he says to them "The harvest is plentiful" His point is this. There are many, many people who need to hear this message, who need to know about his saving grace. There will be no shortage of people to tell, no shortage of people to baptize.
Pastor Jim had 4 things to say about harvest, 4 things my 18 years in rural Kansas has shown me are true.
1. Only mature crop can be harvested. Sometimes you have to wait longer than anticipated for harvest time. This has nothing to do with age, some of the most mature christian I know are of a very young age. But if someone you know if decidedly immature in their faith, in their actions, then they are not ready yet. That doesn't get you off the hook (trust me I have tried that). Just know who you are talking to and where they are in their maturity.
2. Crop can only be harvested for a very short season. If you wait too long, you will miss your chance. I too often wait for just the right moment, for all the many variables to line up just right, for them to ask me, or any other plethora of excuses. But the fact is harvest is short, and then it is over.
3. Unharvested crop turn rotten. There is nothing worse than a person who has lived without unconditional love, the kind of love that is given by Jesus, for so long that it has turned their heart rotten.
4. If you don't harvest the crop, someone else will...birds, thieves, nature. The crop will either be taken by someone else or will turn rotten.
These facts hit a whole new chord for me when I read through them a few days ago. I was newly convicted of all I had done wrong by waiting to share this good news I had.
Tonight I will boldly proclaim the word of God to 200+ kids. And tomorrow I will sit down with a friend and tell them with gentleness and respect of the unconditional love of Christ.