We're Not as Brave as Turtles!
"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you;
and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea
and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." Acts 1:8
One day last week, I was stunned to see a turtle boppin' across the park. Maybe I'm just uninformed, but I don't think of turtles as desert critters. He seemed to be out of his element, but he was just zippin' along without a care in the world.
These words came to mind, "Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. That's my witnessing assignment. Our witnessing assignment.
We're sure we can handle Jerusalem. For Jesus' followers, it was their hometown and it refers to our neighborhoods. We're comfortable there; everyone knows us. Um. . .that might be a problem. Everyone knows us. When we talk about our faith, someone might look at us and think, "Uh-huh, I heard what you said to that other driver the other day. Witnessing at home might not be so easy after all.
Let's move on
Judea. The big city around us. Maybe our states. We're sure we can do that. Gives us some space from the home folks but it's still familiar territory. Then we realize, "I won't know who might be watching. We'll have to be careful what movies we see—even Sleeping Beauty has some kissing in it. What about buying one of those books that has the hunk and beautiful girl on the cover?
For now, the people we encounter are strangers but what if one of them visits our churches? Someone might be a friend-of-a-friend who's invited to a Bible study we're going to. What do you know, maybe we're not totally comfortable with this either.
I blew this one several years ago when I was traveling to a Christian writer's conference. Christian, mind you. First, I took us to the WRONG airport in Houston, only fifty miles from the right one. I was very upset and thought some very non-Christian things. My hubby made it to the other airport in record time and we ran in, only to discover we could make our flight but our bags couldn't.
I wish I could say that I very calmly said, "That's ok. I didn't. I seem to recall the word stupid flying out of my mouth, more than once. Finally the poor lady started to leave and I asked where she was going. "I'm going to deliver these to baggage because I certainly don't want to be stupid.
The whole time I was venting, my sister stood there, looking at me like I was a insane. We've laughed several times about the possibility that lady would ever take the Bible study I wrote. Would she remember the rude woman from the airport when she saw my picture?
And Samaria? Give me a break! Witness to people who don't live like I do, don't believe what I do? Some of them might even be hostile toward me, toward my beliefs. Think again. Not doin' it!
I hate to even think about the last part: to the ends of the earth. That means we might have to leave the comfort of our homes and go somewhere where we don't know a soul. Leave our modern-day conveniences behind. The inner city of a big metropolitan area? A prison? An isolated village in India? That's too scary. We'll pray for them, give money to missions a couple times a year, and feel good about ourselves.
I know we're supposed to love everyone with Christ's love, I have a hard time with that—most of us do. Our love has shadows hanging around—shadows of our preconceived ideas, of our prejudice, of our narrow-mindedness.
We overlook the most important words in this verse: "you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you. When we become Christians, the Holy Spirit comes to live in our hearts and minds. God Himself, in the form of His Spirit, fills us with power to love as He loves, with courage to go when He calls, and with a heart that burns for those who don't believe in Him.
We never step out alone. The Holy Spirit's with us every step, enabling us to live out Jesus, wherever we are: A smile and kind word. Help given to someone who needs it. We speak love, no matter who we're talking to: Sharing ourselves with someone who's struggling. Praying with a total stranger. We sincerely pray for and joyfully give to support those who are called to minister far away. And if we're called to go—in the power of the One who lives within us—we go.
We serve Him with a deep joy that reflects our devotion to and love for Him.
(By the way, if turtles really are desert creatures, keep that to yourself. It'll totally ruin my spiritual application.)