‘I have planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth, but God that giveth the increase. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. For we are labourers together with God.’ (1 Corinthians 3:6-9a)
God works in mysterious ways. You just wouldn’t imagine how bored I felt recently, while at work. I had ‘plenty’ to do, but then again, I felt like I had ‘absolutely nothing’ to really do at all! (The feeling is weird.) Or, let me put it another way: There was ‘stuff’ to do, but no sense at all that I should do any of it — no, not now! Instead, I just ‘meandered’ and ‘wandered’ through the hallways!
What on earth was going on?
Something extra-terristrial, to be sure.
I stopped at the cubicle of a co-worker I had only met in passing before. I’ll call him Bill. There, on the outside of his cubicle was posted an article (such is life in the corporate world — you’ll find articles posted everywhere — take advantage of it, by the way, and post your own … perhaps even this one!). I began to read the article. It was about SKAs, or ‘Square Kilometer Arrays’. A square kilometer array is an array of antennas set up to be able to find out a variety of information — including finding out if life exists on other planets. Aha. The opening.
Then came along Bill. We began talking. We got into a so-called ‘religious’ conversation, and we just happened to ‘slip into it’ quite ‘unintentionally’ as it were, talking about these things called SKAs (Square Kilometer Arrays). Our conversation went something like this:
Bill (Looking at me reading the article): ‘Those are fascinating things, they are. There is much discussion on them.’
Myself: ‘Oh, you mean these things? These ….’
Bill: ‘Yes, they’re called Square Kilometer Arrays, or SKAs for short.’
The conversion went on for a few minutes, until we finally arrived at the point where it opened up beautifully to be able to share the good news of Jesus Christ with Bill. It all revolved around the one topic that some of the proponents of SKAs were interested in the most: Was there, or was there not, life to be found on other planets?
‘It seems to me,’ I said to Bill, ‘the real issue is not whether or not there is life on other planets, but rather, what is motivating others to even want to find out. Even as we talk about it, I sense that the real reason behind all this stuff might simply be to find ‘the answer’ as it were, to life’s problems. In other words, if we can just find somebody, or something, out there, that can solve our problems, then we will be fine!’
Bill nodded, as if to say, ‘OK’, and then added, ‘Well, we all want someone to relate with.’
I added, ‘We can’t relate with our wife, and our children, and our neighbor, but we want to relate with something, or someone, out there, that we have never met before. Think of how paradoxical that is!’
Bill got the point.
Then, I was able to point Bill towards the Savior. I knew this was a divine moment.
‘The Bible says that Jesus Christ is the answer to life’s problems. It was about 14 years ago that someone told me about Jesus, and challenged me to commit my life to him. I did, and I have never been the same since. I have truly discovered that he really is the answer to life’s problems. What astounded me the most was that, at that very time that I was challenged to put my faith in him, I had a vision, as it were, of Jesus dying for me on the cross … and, not only that, he was thinking about me, too! That was just awesome!’
That got Bill’s attention, and I could tell that we were ‘rolling’ … yes, that ‘boredom’ that I had experienced earlier was truly for a reason!
‘Well, that is fine for you,’ Bill responded, with a sense of defensiveness. ‘If it’s good for you, then that is fine. I’m very happy for you. But of course, you can’t say that all people need to do as you did!’
I was beginning to sense Bill’s defensiveness, so I quickly attempted to get us back on track, to that place where he would not put his guard up.
I continued, ‘Of course, Bill, I wouldn’t want to push my beliefs on anyone … no, no, of course not … I’m not into forcing people to have to swallow my message … I think it’s my responsibility to simply share what I have experienced, and let others do the choosing!’
Bill regained his composure. And I sensed we were ‘back on track’ as Bill let his guard down again. This time, I was able to go just a little bit deeper, explaining to him the difference between religion and relationship.
‘You know, Bill,’ I said. ‘I don’t really think too many people are against Jesus. Rather, I think it is the church they are against. I have to admit, the church has not always represented him in the best of ways, that is true. Personally, I’ve discovered that what really matters is not a bunch of rules, but a relationship with God, through Jesus Christ!’
Aha … we were getting somewhere. I could see that Bill was obviously ‘loosening up’ now. Yes, something was happening. It was God who was at work in all of this. That ‘bored’ feeling I had had earlier … well … let’s just say, I wasn’t bored anymore! I was now ‘cooking hot’ and loving it — for God was at work, doing a wonderful job of reaching Bill for himself.
Did Bill become an ‘instant convert’ right then and there? Well, I must say, that the answer is evidently, ‘no.’ But something did happen: I was obedient to God’s leading to share with him.
God had surely set that up — that was his doing, and not mine. He is the One that led me to speak with Bill — it was his providence that did it all. As for myself, I was only a vessel used by God in this instance, to carry out his purposes.
As we read in the Bible, some plant the seed of God’s word into the hearts of men by bringing the gospel to them, perhaps for the very first time — that is the job of an evangelist. Others water that seed by caring for that person, and taking a definite interest in his or her spiritual well-being — that is the job of a pastor/teacher.
But no matter whether we take on the first, or the second, role, the Bible makes it clear that ‘neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth, but God that giveth the increase. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. For we are labourers together with God.’ (1 Corinthians 3:6-9a)
Let us then continue sharing this good news that God has entrusted to us mere men, so that he, the Lord of all creation, may be glorified to the uttermost.