Matthew 10:1 – And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease. (NKJV)
Luke 10:1-3,17 – After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go. Then He said to them, "The harvest truly is great but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs among wolves. … Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name." (NKJV)
John 15:18,20a – If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. Remember the word that I said to you, "A servant is not greater than his Master." If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. (NKJV)
2 Corinthians 4:7-9 – But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed. (NKJV)
Because I was an athlete in my younger years, God often uses sporting illustrations to teach me spiritual truths — they resonate with me. I was reminded of one of those when we took the grandkids to the swimming pool during March break. It's a very nice pool. There's a kiddie pool with a hot tub attached. The water is warm for the little ones. It's adults only in the hot part. The big pool has a shallower end and a deep end. There's a slide, a Tarzan rope, and a springboard — lots of fun, for some.
I looked around at all the different kinds of people using the pool. Little ones are in the kiddie pool, learning to enjoy the water. But a nine-year-old, who should be taking his swimming test, is there with his little brother. He doesn't like the colder water and the other kids splashing around in the big pool. Grandpa is in the hot tub keeping an eye on them. He's not a swimmer and likes the heat also. Older kids and adults are in the shallower end playing around. Some are working on their skills, but some just don't swim well. Noodles, flutter boards, and balls to toss are their fun. Then, there are teenage girls, who can swim well, but are sitting at the deep end, feet in the water. They are talking and prefer not to get their hair wet. Then, there are the keeners, going down the slide, swinging on the swing, doing flips off the springboard, and diving for rings. They are making the most of their experience!
It's kind of like the church. What? Some never darken the door. Some dabble. Some tread water. Some keep a presence but don't get involved. Some are in there with their whole hearts. Yes, I see it. Then, the Lord showed me that the big pool, the kiddie pool, and the hot tub are safe places, like the church building. The real challenge is in the open water. I felt the fear that I had known as a child, swimming in the lake. Something brushed by me in the water. The unknown. Am I safe? Going out into the world with the gospel? Scary.
I've been pondering this ever since. The real challenge is to take our skill, our faith, out into our community and to be God's presence there. But will we? Will we conquer our fear and go out with His Spirit to fulfill our mission in our own communities?
Prayer: Lord, we like to be safe. Sharing our faith with people can be scary. We don't know what their reaction will be. And this is something that we aren't skilled at. Help us, Lord! Teach us. We know that You will be with us. Grant us courage to be faithful in this mission to share You with our community, no matter what the cost, for Your glory's sake. Amen.
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Listen while you read: "Nearer My God To Thee" (Lyrics)