I don’t know where you stand on the knocking on doors or handing out tracts at Walmart approach to evangelism. It’s not for everyone and it’s certainly not without personal hazards.
Even those with the zeal or chutzpah to approach strangers need to be prepared for rebuffs and outright criticism, which like well-aimed arrows can home in on your Achilles heel and elicit an unexpected retort.
Actually this potential to set out to bless but be triggered to curse (of sorts) can happen anytime as James so clearly warns. It’s very disheartening, even more so than say if you woke up in a peevish mood to begin with and weren’t at all surprised by the thoughtless word that fell out of your mouth. (Not that that is any less a sin.)
But when you’ve risen from prayer and set out to share the good news and end up wishing you had stuffed your tracts in your own mouth, well, that’s fodder for a self beating, as a friend recently told me.
She hadn’t wanted to go with the church group to hand out tracts, but woke in the middle of the night with the thought that she should. Since the same nudging was on her mind as soon as she woke the next morning, she decided to go for an hour.
Apart from a good discussion with one person, the time was uneventful. Just as she was leaving, my friend felt impressed to approach another woman and ask if she could give her a tract. The woman suddenly snapped at her, and before she could shut her mouth, my friend responded with a less-than-tactful-but probably-very-insightful question that triggered a volley of anger.
My friend knew the Holy Spirit was urging her to hush up and go, but she lobbed off one more retort before succumbing to wisdom. All of which led to an afternoon of self-recrimination, disgust, disappointment (and I suspect, some still smoldering embers).
In the midst of her crying to the Lord about what happened, she was stopped short by His response. “That woman was the one. She was your appointment. Pray for her.”
Condemnation redeemed with correction. Guilt covered with mercy. And lost opportunity regained with hope through the power of prayer.
God’s grace over sinners and saints all.
Thank God we are not stuck in our own failures. Thank God He makes our ugly ashes into works of beauty. And thank God, as Manning says, “None of my failures in faithlessness proved terminal."
Blessings friends on this cusp of one year's ending and another's beginning.