I’m stilling in Barns and Noble reading one of the books on the “Required Reading” list for my Evangelism course. And I am feeling so incredibly uncomfortable. Reading The Art of Personal Evangelism made me absolutely sure of something: I don’t know how to do it. There are several texts I have read on the subject that give tips and tricks and methods and formulas, all of which leave me annoyed and uncomfortable, but this book is sensitive to people as well as to the Holy Spirit. It reminds the reader not only of the urgency of evangelism, but of the facts of the Holy Spirit and the need to be sincere. It encourages the reader not to be so caught up with numbers, but, in essence, to be organic. Evangelism should be as natural an overflow of our walk with God as fruit is the product of healthy apple trees.
That being said, all of this requires something of me that I don’t currently have: the overflow. I’m still working on the filling part, so the overflow is not yet in existence. Don’t get me wrong. I want to be excited to bursting about the God who saves, but…It’s not coming. I think of when I watch a really cool TV show or read a really amazing book, and I can’t stop myself from talking about it to anyone who will listen. I have talked many an ear off about Victorian literature, the Lord of the Rings, Chuck, Primeval, and half a dozen other things (sometimes even theology). But when it comes to sharing my “living faith”, my tongue is still, or else people get the good as well as the bad.
As I read my text book, I feel the old guilt. “You can talk about all these things, but you can’t talk about the God who saved you?” It reminds me of the ever so infuriating adage heard in churches across the nation on Sundays: “You can shout for your favorite team better than you shout for Jesus.” I feel guilty for not being able to tap into my enthusiasm to the same degree as things I know better than God. But the two aren’t the same. I tried to cram my head full of “knowledge” about God, but it didn’t necessarily make me any more enthusiastic about evangelism. About Jesus in me.
It all comes back to that same thing I am realizing over and over again. I don’t know him. If I knew him, I wouldn’t be able to stop talking about him. If I knew him, I’d be full of joy and gladness that permeated every mode of my life. I don’t know how I’m going to make it through this evangelism class, where I am graded on how well I can share the Gospel. All I can do is pray that the Good New becomes more real to me between now and then. I know God saved me. I know I am redeemed. I am glad of it, but there’s still a wall between that gladness and the rest of my being. The wall that keeps me confused and in the dark about my “destiny” (yet another word I absolutely hate). The wall that makes me angry when I think of doing things for people and for God when I can’t even do things for myself. Make no mistake; I am doing far better than I have been doing, but I’m still broken. I’m going through spiritual rehabilitation, relearning how to do everything.
So how can I forward the message of God’s good news when I’m still receiving the download? I’m buffering. How can I share what I don’t have? I’m open to suggestions, prayers, scriptures, etc, because I want and need the abundance of God, and as of right now, I don’t have it.