Last Saturday night I got a very interesting opportunity. A group of students from my college drove forty minutes to downtown Aberdeen, South Dakota, to do Red Box street evangelism; and I joined them. Now, anyone who knows me well knows that when I have something important to say, I am far more comfortable writing than I am speaking. Words flow naturally onto paper for me, but sometimes when I stand up to speak before a crowd, my mind goes completely blank. Nevertheless, I was encouraged to climb up on the red-painted box, dubbed “Air Time,” and share my testimony. I raised my eyebrows and replied that I had no idea what I would say, but I clambered up on that box anyway. As I stood on that box, feeling very conspicuous beneath the light of the streetlamp on the corner, God put words in my heart, words about my search for “something more” in life that led me straight into His arms. I and the other students got a chance to minister to people and proclaim the love of Jesus to the late-night crowds flocking to the coffee house, bars, and other, less savory businesses lining the street.
“Jesus, I long to be holy
Jesus, I long to be real
In a world of broken people
So many need to be healed”
I now have to tell you that I am not overly zealous about street evangelism. My tolerance for intoxicated people is not particularly high, I admit. Over the last few weeks, though, the Lord has been stirring up my heart. At first I resisted, telling God that children and writing are my “things” – street evangelism is not my “thing.” But then the Lord asked me a question:
‘Can the world afford for you to have a “thing”?’
My breath caught in my throat and I fell to my knees. In Christian church culture we tend to get caught up in our “things,” which we like to label as “callings” (because it sounds churchier). Before anyone takes offense, I totally believe the Lord calls people; every single person on this earth has a destiny and a purpose. The problem with these so-called “callings” – these things – is that we sometimes use them as an excuse to not reach out to all those around us. Paul “made himself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible” and “[became] all things to all people so that by all possible means [he] might save some.” He did this “for the sake of the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:19, 22-23). I want this to be my attitude; I want to reach outside my comfort zone and outside the realm of my gifts to reach people in all different kinds of situations. I don’t want to find myself in a place where I can’t share Jesus with someone because his or her lifestyle and situation is uncomfortable to me.
“Purify my hands to hold them
Purify my heart to burn with devotion
For You, Lord Jesus, for You”
Jesus’ only “thing” is loving people, and He wants to know if we will make our “things” His thing. Will our hearts break for what breaks His heart? Do our hearts break for the lost and hopeless? It is beautiful to operate in our God-given talents, but we are called to reach beyond the mere extent of our gifts, and I will tell you why:
“For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15)
The world is lost and broken in so many ways; everyday people lead lives of hopelessness, perishing in the darkness. To remain in safety and comfort is our human inclination; but we Christ-followers are compelled by the lavish love of Christ to expand our reach, bringing light into every dark place.
“I’m not ashamed of Jesus
My Lord my Lover my Friend
The power to cleanse and redeem us
Is in the blood of the Lamb”
The truth is that we can all reach out fearlessly and unashamedly. The Lord told me that if I was not ashamed of Him, I should quit acting as though I were. The time has come for me to reach outside of my comfort zones, outside of my “thing,” to go forth into the world. Maybe it is time for you to do the same. Jesus is calling out to His Bride, “Spread your wings and fly free for all to see; nothing holds you back, Beloved.”
“Oh how the mighty have fallen
Buried in their filthy rags
Father please turn from your anger
My lips will boast of your ways
Cause it’s all in the blood of the savior
It’s all in the love that you have for Your Son
And I believe in Jesus; I believe”
(Lyrics from Jason Upton’s “Not Ashamed”)
I am learning how to live a life free from fear of man; my fear is for my God and Him alone. The prayer of my heart is that I will jump at every opportunity to share His love with a world that is bound in darkness. Everywhere I go my lips will boast of His ways. Nothing can hold me back, for I am compelled by a relentless Love.
(Check out Jason Upton’s song “Not Ashamed”: