I remember receiving training on how to share the gospel at my first Summit fall retreat with Power to Change.
Along with the training I was invited to apply what I learned back on my campus that following week.
Like many, I was terrified!
Perhaps you can relate to the fear that creeps in and the excuses that flood your mind as you realize that taking the initiative to engage people in spiritual conversation is out of your comfort zone?
Let me assure you, you are not alone.
Even after years of experience and the opportunity to witness people coming to faith in Jesus firsthand, I still have fear. Images race through my mind of the worst case scenario, of how something could go terribly wrong.
And the truth is, sometimes things have gone wrong—very, very wrong.
This is going to be HUGE!
I was sitting at the bottom of the stairs in the business building, clutching a Un.Cover magazine in my arms, looking for a girl who fit the description she had given me over the phone.
It was the second week of school, and Veronica had filled out a survey with P2C the previous week requesting information about Jesus. I had been feeling sick and was fighting through a bad cold, but I was determined to not let that interfere with the appointment I had. No way was I going to cancel!
Finally Veronica approached me, and we began to introduce ourselves.
Fast-forward fifteen minutes. Nestled in an alcove under the stairs, Veronica was fascinated by the content in the magazine I was sharing with her.
It was one of those exhilarating appointments where things were visibly starting to click. Veronica grew up with some Christian influence but she had never understood the message of Jesus before.
The article I was sharing was called “Knowing God Personally”, and I had just finished explaining point number two: the significance of our sin. In all of my excitement and enthusiasm, I burst out saying, “And Jesus is the amazing solution to that sin!”
But enthusiasm plus a cold aren’t always a good mix. With that exclamation, I managed to force a giant snot bubble the size of a pingpong ball out of my nose. It all happened in slow motion. I shut my eyes and prayed, “Maybe she didn’t see it”.
But when I opened my eyes and saw the look of utter disgust on her face, my deepest fears were confirmed.
These thoughts flooded through my mind:
Is this real life? Did I actually just blow a snot bubble at the climax of the gospel story in front of a person I just met?! I wish I had never come to campus today. Why did we have to meet in the busiest place possible? I’m pretty sure this girl will never ever know Jesus now because of me and my unruly bodily fluids.
I have to say Veronica was very gracious with me, given the circumstances, and surprisingly we managed to finish our conversation.
What to do when things do go horribly wrong
Now why do I share such a story?
I want you to know that most of your fears about how horribly wrong things can go while sharing your faith are all in your head. But sometimes, things do go horribly, embarrassingly wrong.
But in those moments, I have experienced the reality of the gospel. I experience all the more deeply that God delights in using broken, messed-up people to testify to his grace.
He uses the underdogs, the ineloquent, and the snotty. It was never about my image nor my proficiency in the first place. The power in communicating the gospel always has been, and will always be, the Holy Spirit giving light to sinful hearts.
When I find fear bubbling up, it most often is linked to my fear of people thinking poorly of me. I forget that it is only God whom I need to please, and he has already declared his permanent, unchanging affections for me. In Christ’s death and resurrection I know how God feels about me, and no amount of snot can change that!
Every story has two sides
As I look back on that experience, I have come to see that my conversation went very wrong by any standard, but by God’s standards, it wasn’t that wrong at all.
What I see is a humbled woman, enthralled with her King, willing to make a fool of herself in seeking to be obedient to glorify God by making disciples. I see a lost sheep hearing the gospel, the power of salvation to those who believe. I see God displayed strong in a weak woman.
When I take the initiative to share my faith, typical fears can creep in, but I have come to see there is a far worse scenario than just making a fool of myself.
What is the worst thing that could happen?
The worse thing could have been:
- Not having that conversation at all.
- Not being willing to sacrifice and risk my own pride for the opportunity to be used by God to share the best news ever given.
- Disobeying the call to make disciples of all nations.
- Not following Jesus as Lord of my life.
- Missing the chance to participate in the Great Commission.
My worst experiences are not the ones where I made a fool of myself, but the ones that never happened at all.
So the next time you are depending on the Holy Spirit to take the initiative to share your faith, and fear begins to flood your thoughts, ask yourself: what’s the worst that can happen?
Let me assure you, it’s not snot.