I had fought against God for too long. For several months, I had prayed for ways to reach a friend’s heart with the message of the Gospel, but every time I had the opportunity, I shied away. “That’s too hard,” I would say to Him. “I can’t do that.” I had pictures in my mind of Brent, the main character from my book The Promise. Throughout the course of the book, Brent dedicates himself to reaching out to J.C. and investing all he has to give in hopes that she will one day choose to accept Christ into her life.
I created Brent’s character, and in many ways, his personality mirrors mine in real life. But time after time, I shrank back from reaching out to this friend, which was vastly different from Brent’s approach to life and service. I wondered why it was so difficult for me. What was holding me back?
A Bible Study member compared my attitude to that of Jonah from the Bible, and to a certain degree, I had to concur. God had called Jonah to go to the city ofNinevehand preach about God’s coming judgment. But in his hatred toward the city, Jonah decided to flee God’s plan instead of willingly moving forward. Although I did not possess hatred for my friend, I still decided to flee the task before me. But why? Was it fear of the unknown, fear of inadequacy, or indifference for the lost soul?
Immediately I knew it was not indifference; I cared for this person a great deal, and I wanted nothing more than to see them come to Christ. So it had to be fear— but why was I so afraid? As I was praying over the matter in the dark of my bedroom one night, I slowly came to a realization. Like Jonah when he was cast into the sea and swallowed up by the wale, I felt like I was sinking and floundering in the face of the overwhelming task before me. I didn’t know what to say to this person or how to lead them to the truth so they could understand. I knew they needed to hear the message, but I felt far from adequate. I was certainly no Brent Hollister, and I wasn’t sure I was ready to face the emotional and spiritual battle that was sure to be ahead of us.
But I couldn’t rid my mind of my friend’s face, and I knew that if I gave up on the mission, this individual would be lost to the rising waters of grief and sin. I had to reach out, and I knew it was my duty no matter how difficult the task. So I took a deep breath, and with tears streaming down my face I spoke these words aloud: “Okay, I’ll go,” I said. “Just help me know what to do next.”
It was then that I remembered my friend’s last words at the conclusion of a recent phone call. “I’ll call you some time soon and we’ll reconnect.” It was then that I knew I should wait for the phone to ring; I wanted my friend to be ready and willing to talk on their own terms, and I prayed that God would start preparing their heart for the upcoming conversation.
It was a long wait, but finally the phone rang. I was standing in my kitchen, and as I listened to my ring tone play, I said a quick prayer for guidance as I practically ran to pick up the phone. I was ready for the coming conversation, and like Jonah, I was finally prepared to serve. God had patiently come alongside me and had never given up on me despite my reluctance and stubbornness. In the end, Jonah and I both had our own agendas that were drastically altered by God’s ultimate plan. In my own journey toNineveh, I found renewed friendship and hope for a soul in need of Christ’s love. Jonah, too, found God’s sovereign will in his travels toNineveh. Sometimes, it takes a willful heart, raging seas, and the belly of a wale to make God’s will known to His reluctant children.