When I was nine years old, I went fishing with a friend at a lake
near his house. As we fished, an older man walked by. Upon seeing
us, he stopped and said in a disgusted voice, "There are no fish
in this lake!" We reeled in our lines, packed up our tackle boxes
and went home.
-- Brent Wallace
Brent's story reminds me of my approach to evangelism and why
I've been no good at it. I have been hindered by negative
thinking; Satan had me beaten before I even got my line in the
water. I assumed people would not be receptive and thus I expected
little or nothing in terms of results. I was as effective as a
salesman who is convinced nobody wants his product.
Lately, God has been impressing me with certain convictions:
1) A relationship with Him is exactly what unbelievers
are searching for--whether they realize it or not. God put a void
within them only He can fill. It's not just unlikely they will
find fulfillment elsewhere; it's impossible.
2) When sharing the gospel with a group, I use to hope that one
or two would respond. Now, realizing EVERYONE is yearning to fill
the void within them, I'm learning to go after THE WHOLE CROWD--as
Paul and Peter did in the verses below:
"The times of ignorance God overlooked but now He commands ALL
men EVERYWHERE to repent" (Acts 17:30).
"Repent and be baptized, EVERY ONE OF YOU, in the name of Jesus
Christ for the forgiveness of your sins"...there were added that
day about three thousand souls (Acts 2:38).
Even Jeremiah, who saw little response from the people, was
instructed by God to go after the whole crowd: "...do not hold
back a word. It may be they will listen, and EVERY ONE turn from
his evil way,..." (Jer. 26:2-5).
This new perspective did not come overnight. I still have to
meditate on these truths to keep out the initiative-stealing lies.
Because nothing is impossible with God, we must guard against
thinking anyone is beyond redemption. The woman at the well had
had five husbands and was living with a man who wasn't her
husband. She may have seemed an unlikely candidate for receiving
the gospel, but Jesus knew she was thirsty for the living water.
After this incident Jesus said to his disciples, "I tell you, lift
up your eyes, and see how the fields are already white for
harvest" (John 4:35).