Got a problem? God will work it out.
I would like to share with you a small problem I had, and how God worked it out. It is just one example that could be given, but it’s a real living example, nevertheless.
I was driving in my car, and realized I was close to the library. I had only days prior to that time reserved a museum pass which is good for some of the museums in town (there are at least five different types of passes available, and this one was good for ten museums – that should give you an idea of just how many museums there are in Ottawa, Canada’s capital).
I went to the front desk to reclaim the pass, which I would be able to borrow for a week, and realized that I did not have my wife’s library card on me. I had booked the pass under her card. The man said that I would have to return with her card if I wanted to get the museum pass, citing the usual privacy concerns. I left, but I toyed with the idea of giving this man a gospel tract. I don’t always give out gospel tracts, but I often do.
I left the library and got back in my car. I drove a bit, but still thought about the fact that I had not given the gospel tract to the man. Of course, to be able to give out gospel tracts, you need to carry gospel tracts with you. I’m fortunate in that the church I fellowship with makes many good gospel tracts available so that people can hand them out to others. I think that all good churches should do that. I’ve come to believe that it’s actually irresponsible for a church not to do that. That’s where I stand on that one because I’ve seen the amazing power a tract can have. At least, if you don’t have tracts, make some form of literature available to those who attend the church, so they can, in turn, give that out to people who do not as of yet know Christ or His love. Is that not the responsible thing to do?
Just before getting to the stop light, I thought, “I could pull a U-turn here, and then go back and give the gospel tract to that man.” I’ve done things like this many times, and I’ve seen God clearly at work many times in situations like these, as well, so none of this took me by surprise or gave me the “willies” in any way. So I did the U-turn and went back to the library.
Now I’d like to stress that, as Christians, we are not responsible for how someone reacts to the message we present to them. But we really should do our best to give others the opportunity to respond. I don’t think we should be robotic and simply give gospel tracts out to everyone we meet – though it might not be a bad idea, come to think of it. I’ve given out thousands of gospel tracts. There are some situations which may not merit giving them out, but, by-and-large, most situations, in my opinion, do merit giving the other person an opportunity to hear the gospel (of course, it does not have to be via a gospel tract; there are other methods to reach people, but tracts are a proven method). We should love people, and demonstrate our love through our actions, but this does NOT excuse us or give us the right NOT to share the ACTUAL MESSAGE OF GOD’S FORGIVENESS WITH THOSE SAME PEOPLE.
You’ve probably heard many times the saying, “Share the gospel with all people, and if necessary, use words.” People credit Francis of Assisi with having said this or something close to this. Let me state to you emphatically, this saying is NOT BIBLICAL! The message of the gospel is to be shared WITH WORDS! Yes, we should love people, but those who quote Francis of Assisi on this are not being true to the word of God.
Now I said I had a problem. My problem was that I wanted to share the gospel with this man. I presented the man with a couple of tracts but he IMMEDIATELY RECOILED as though I hit a sore spot. I don’t get negative reactions too often – about 1 out of 25 times (estimated). I’m actually quite pleasantly surprised with the response that I have gotten here in Ottawa. There is a general openness. I told the man the name of the church I fellowshipped with here in Ottawa and he said he knew about it and, in fact, lived near there. He was not interested in talking at all about the gospel.
I believe the reaction this man presented me with is indicative of having been offended at Christ possibly as a result of the man having been hurt by another Christian, or by a church (he responded negatively before I even mentioned the name of the church). I felt for this man, but left. He was very good-natured, but also very definite about the fact that he did not want to talk about God or the church. There was another man I met who responded like this, as well, about a month ago. That’s not too bad. I have given tracts and talked about the Lord to at least 100 people since I met that other man. As I mentioned, about 1 in 25 respond negatively, but only about 1 in a 100 respond with the real “definite no” that says, “I don’t want to talk about it at all with you, ever.” So the rejection rate is low (some are obviously polite and may not read the tract later).
When the man recoiled and did not want to talk about the gospel or the Lord, I felt somewhat of a loss, because I perhaps could have handled it better. I kind of wished I could “turn back the clock” and have another go at it. As it turns out, I came back to the library later, after I had gotten my wife’s library card. I went to the same man to get the museum pass, which worked out fine. But what about the gospel? I so wanted to talk to him, but it was not to be. There was a lineup behind me, and the man had made it clear the first time he was not interested.
All the while, the Lord knew how I was feeling about this, and He knew the grief I was feeling concerning the lost estate of this other man. My spirit was not at peace when I was about the leave the library the second time. I pondered what to do, and, lo and behold, my friend Sam came walking out of a doorway from another floor in the library. My friend Sam is also a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. He loves to reach out to people. Could this be my “second chance” to be able to reach out to this man at the library? It turns out, it was. It’s because of this, in fact, that I decided to write this article. You see, there’s more to this than meets the eye.
I wasn’t even supposed to be at the library at that time, according to my schedule, because I had to pick up my daughter’s friend whom she was having over. But immediately prior to leaving the house with my daughter to pick up her friend, I felt the leading of the Spirit to take my wife’s library card with me. That provided me with a clue that the Lord was probably wanting to provide me with a second chance to reach out to this man.
When I saw Sam, the first thing he said to me was, “Wow, I was literally just thinking about you!” Now the last time I had met Sam was while at a fellowship service three days prior to that. Sam and I talked, and I shared with him my burden. I said, “Sam, you see that man over there?” I told him what happened, and how the man had rejected the message I had presented to him. Sam and I prayed right then and there, and Sam said, “I will try to reach to him.”
I finally felt the peace when I prayed with Sam and talked with him. It was a true peace. There was an assurance in me that had not been there before. Now Sam is no one, and I am no one, but God is everything. I do not need Sam to bring me peace, but what I do need is God. And what I’ve seen throughout the approximately twenty-five years that I have known the Lord is that, in every situation, large or small, whether that situation appears seemingly good or seemingly bad, God will, in fact, work it out. You will need to trust Him, and obey Him, to see that happen. But He will work it out. I would like to encourage you to trust Him today to work things out in your life, too.
May the Lord bless you as you consider these words.
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)