The other day, I arrived at the bus stop where four ladies were indiscriminately passing out New Testament Bibles. When one of the ladies offered me a Bible, I tried to decline. But she was insistent, so I tried to change the subject.
“What church are you with?” I asked.
She said she was with a non-denominational, evangelical church and again offered me a Bible.
“Thanks but I already have one,” I replied.
“That’s okay,” she said, “this one has footnotes. Take it. It’s free.”
The Bible Lady Wins
At this point, I realized there was no sense in telling her that my Bible had footnotes too, and there was no point in trying to decline the Bible. It was going to be easier to take her Bible than to repeatedly turn her down, so I took it and a tract that came with it.
As I stood there with my brand-new Bible, I watched the woman and her three companions walk up to people and shove Bibles into their hands. Quite frankly, they came across as a little fanatical, and I found myself both admiring them and scorning them at the same time.
Those ladies are bold, I thought, but the people who take their Bibles probably aren’t even going to read them. I mean, I sure wasn’t going to read mine. Like I told her, I already had one. She would’ve been better off giving it to someone who actually needed it.
The Bible Wasn’t for Me
When I got home, I put the Bible in our entryway where it sat for a month. Finally, my wife asked me to do something with it.
“You can’t just leave it sitting there,” she said.
So yesterday, I decided to take it with me to work. I figured that on my way, I could leave it in a public area where it might end up with someone who needed it. I walked to my bus stop, but because of a traffic jam, I jumped on a different bus than my regular one. After paying the fare, I sat my briefcase down and opened it to put the Bible inside.
A young mother with two little girls was sitting next to me, and she asked, “Is that a Bible?”
“Yes,” I said.
“Are you giving it away?”
“Yes, I am,” I said, surprised.
“Can I have it?”
“Sure you can,” I said, giving her the Bible. Then I flipped through the pages of a little tract the woman had given me, and it was a guide on how to read your Bible.
“You’ll probably need this too,” I said, handing it to her. Then I asked, “Just curious – are you a Christian?”
“Yeah,” she said, “but not a very good one,” which opened the door to a good conversation in a traffic jam about how Jesus is the only one who can make us good.
A day later, I think back on this Bible exchange and marvel at all the perfect timing required to get it into this young mother’s hands. And it all happened because a fanatical lady was willing to shove a Bible into my hands a few weeks earlier. That lady had no idea what she was doing, but in His sovereign plan, God did.
It’s the Little Things
We have this idea that doing something significant for God requires huge planning, red letters in the sky, a parting of the sea, signs and wonders. But the truth is, He’s working through us in ways we could never arrange on our own.
Maybe it’s something that looks fanatical, like aggressively giving out Bibles; or maybe it’s something mundane, like being friendly to another person on a bus. Regardless, life is full of holy mystery when we walk in faith, recognizing that “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28)
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Praise God for the aggressiveness of these Asian ladies.
I try and visit reformed churches in Spain and one sad thing about them is that they are not very active in evangelism, using the excuse that Spanish society is different to British society. Charles Spurgeon described such people as “sound and sound asleep”.
My standard rebuttal normally uses the following arguments in some form: –
1) As believers in the doctrine of sovereign grace, everyone is anti-God until God works in that person’s heart, not just Spaniards.
2) We evangelise out of obedience (no exceptions): – Mark 16:15 says, “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”
3) If we genuinely care for people, we will warn them of the judgement they can avoid by coming to Christ.
Beautifully written. Thank you for this and the reminder that we can rest assuredly and move confidently with God’s providence.
This is so, so good. I’m concluding my first week of teen camp speaking for this summer; and about by 240th week since 1978…I try to encourage the teens (and anyone else) to not get caught up in what they CAN’T do (for Jesus and the kingdom) but rather just do what they CAN do…and this is a great example…will share it with the campers..and with otthers
On Fri, Jun 19, 2015 at 8:47 AM, Joshua Rogers wrote:
I don’t mean to bring gloom to a positive sounding testimony, but do you know what the version of the Bible was that she gave to you?
I’m not a KJV only person or anything like that. The reason I ask the question is that there are a couple of versions around, given away freely, which contain heretical study notes (aka footnotes). The “Recovery Version” is one and is typically given away by people of Asian ethnicity who have a borderline legalistic/fanatical approach. They also don’t claim denominations but call themselves the local church of whatever region they meet in.
The heresy they teach is to do with modalism and is complex – they deny teaching modalism but use the language of modalism to describe the Trinity. Norman Geisler, Darrell Bock and others have written about this as recorded on apologeticsindex.org – if you search for “Witness Lee” or “The Local Church” on the site you should be able to find their statements.
I really hope and pray that this was not a Recovery Version, but the caution is worth raising, even at the risk of offense. My concern is that God is faithfully represented and that the gospel is not diminished.
Sam, don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good (or something like that). With the Spirit people eventually gravitate towards the truth.
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Almost 40 years ago, I was walking down Hollywood Blvd. with some friends, headed to a club. There was a group of people handing out miniature Bibles. I gladly accepted one as the person put one in my hand, saying, “God bless you!” and kept moving on. No other words were exchanged. The thing is, I didn’t know anything about Christianity, the Bible, or even Jesus (even though I was born and raised in America). I never read it but I always kept it. It meant something to me even though I didn’t understand what it was. Little did I know, it was the first seed to be planted in my heart. It wouldn’t be until seventeen years later, at age 35, before I understood and my life hasn’t been the same since. I’m so grateful for that one moment in time.
That’s a lovely story.
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