The Mustard Seed
"I'm mad at God!"
When I heard Dr. Ray Jarmin tell his story ("The pastor didn't believe in God"), one thing he said bothered me. He said, "In my 52 years of ministry in the church, I did not lead one soul to Christ. But now that I have been kicked out of the church, God has given me the joy of leading many to Him." Dr. Jarmin's words reminded me that I was doing a very bad job of leading people to Jesus.
So that day I prayed:
"Lord, it is my life's purpose to lead people to Christ. But thus far I cannot name one person who will say to me in heaven, 'I'm here because you introduced me to Jesus.' I have scattered seed the best I know how, and I have no idea if any of it has taken root.
"Lord, I realize this may be a selfish request... But it would greatly encourage me if You were to let me experience the joy of the harvest."
The morning I prayed that prayer, I was on my way to visit Deaf inmates in the Cook County Jail in Chicago. That jail is a huge place -- several times larger than the Maryland state correctional facility that I currently visit every week.
The warden had given me a chaplain's pass, that gave me freedom to visit the Deaf inmates inside the institution. In one building I was allowed into the cell block day rooms and even into the inmates' cells. In another building my access was limited to a little room reserved for attorney-client visits. That's where I met every week with one young man named Charles.
Charles was about 19 years old. He was always in a cheerful mood. My visits with him were frustrating for me. I could never bring our conversation past the surface into any depth, into life's issues that really mattered.
But on this particular day, Charles came into the room in a grumpy mood that I had never seen in him before. He walked back and forth, obviously angry about something.
"What's bothering you," I asked.
He said, "I'm mad at God!" That got my attention!
I asked, "And why are you mad at God?"
He answered, "Because God punishes sinners. And that's not fair!!!"
Ok! Let's get to work, Lord! This young man is ready for the Gospel!
During the next twenty minutes I told him every evangelism outline and illustration that I had learned and been trained in... and none of them worked. Nothing I said seemed to make sense to Charles. Finally when I had shot all my ammunition, I prayed, "Lord, help me!"
Immediately an illustration came to mind -- one that that I created in the first confirmation class that I taught, a picture that shows two great truths of Scripture -- Law and Gospel, the Bad News and Good News. I pulled a sheet of paper from my pocket and quickly drew this picture:
Charles took the paper in hand. He finally stood still and studied the paper. I asked him, "Do you understand it?"
"Yes," he said. "But I don't believe it."
Ok, Lord. We got through to his head. Show me what I need to tell him that will help him make the 18 inch jump down to his heart.
Immediately a Bible verse came to mind... 1st Peter 2:24. I pulled out my pocket New Testament, turned to the verse, and handed it to Charles, where he read,
"Jesus carried our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness. It is by His wounds you have been healed. You were like sheep that had lost their way, but now you have been brought back to follow the Shepherd and Keeper of your souls."
The frown on Charles' face began to fade and soon it was replaced with a big smile.
"Charles," I asked, "Do you want it?"
"Yes!" So we prayed.
At the end of our visit, we both left that little room rejoicing. Charles was still in prison on the outside, but he finally had discovered peace, purpose, and freedom on the inside.
If you want to tell someone about Jesus, do these three things:
(1) Pray, asking God to help you.
(2) Read God's Word every day.
(3) Practice drawing and explaining this picture.
~~ Pastor Ron