HAVE YOU ever tried to talk to someone about God and feel like you failed miserably? I have. You feel like you wasted your time and theirs. Or maybe you sense you offended the other person. Or you feel like they think you’re a religious nut.
It’s a crappy sensation. It’s as if you wasted spiritual ammo. Especially since you know we all need God.
There’s a story from Tolkien’s Hobbit about a magic arrow – the Black Arrow. The story helps me understand how to handle this. Here’s my version.
Once there was a family, named the Bowman family, that had a magic arrow. For hundreds of years, this arrow was passed down from father to son. The family legend said the arrow was only to be used at a very specific moment. It was guarded by the family for generations.
One day a terrible dragon appeared in the sky spitting fire all over the village. The Bowman family leader had never seen such devastation. He knew it was time to fulfill the legend.
He carefully removed the Black Arrow from his quiver… nock… draw… aim… loose…
The arrow flew straight into the dragon’s chest through a space that was missing a protective scale. The shaft drove deep into the dragon’s heart. The dead beast fell from the sky.
Victory thrives on preparation
That’s how I have to talk about God. I must be careful and precise. I have to prepare. I need to pay attention to where the other person is in life. Too many times I just want to beat them over the head with a Bible, or I think I can wear them down. Or maybe I never even get a shot off.
My words aren’t magic. But they can be filled with supernatural power.
When you pray for someone it helps put yourself in their shoes. Imagine dedicating a hour of prayer for someone. How about a week, a month… or years? What effect would this have on them? On you? Each word you speak ends up saturated with God’s love. It changes your tone, your attitude, since God is working in you too.
This is how you love your neighbor. Your are smooth where you need to be smooth — and sharp where you need to be sharp. Like a finely crafted arrow. Now, there’s a much better chance that your words might reach their heart.
Of course you don’t want to kill the person. Instead you want to kill the beast that won’t let God in. It might be with open ended questions. Or maybe they need a direct approach, and this scares you. If you’re prepared though, your words will ring straight and true.
Instead of a shotgun approach, you aim at a specific target. Plus, you’re scanning at all times for an opening, a brief chance to plant a seed. And if you do get the chance to speak to their heart, take off your shoes and get on your knees for you are on sacred ground.
In this way you imitate Christ. His attention is highly personalized.
Still, even Jesus was rejected by many.
The process prepares me for unexpected outcomes. Not everyone is going to receive the Good News in a positive way. Some will get mad, even hate me for it. Others might react negatively at first, then come around later. But if I arrive at the moment with sincerity and faith, then the Lord will protect me from any counter-attack by the enemy.
Preparation makes me alert, tough, and resilient.
Actions speak louder than words, but sometimes the spoken word is the action required. The mighty Spirit of God gives you the strength to prepare arrow after arrow and let them fly.
So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. — Romans 10:17
The goal isn’t to be perfect. Instead, it’s to be prepared and to persevere… and to ask the Spirit to do his good work.
God is the owner grace. Time spent in his presence drives this point home in your heart. You have to go to him. He alone gives the increase. His Spirit alone leads to life transformations. And if it be God’s will, your words may help slay the dragon.
It won’t be because you come up with some incredible, eloquent message. Instead, it will be the power of God working though you… and in you.
When I came to you, brethren, I did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in much fear and trembling; and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
1 Corinthians 2:1-5
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