Sunday, November 14, 2010

An occasion for testimony

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Luke 21:1-19

TO CHEW ON: "'But for all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons. You will be brought before kings and rulers for My name's sake. But it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony.'" Luke 21:12-13

Jesus' words, "But it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony," remind me of a story I heard this summer.

A missionary to the Middle East related an incident where he felt God was telling him to bring Bibles into a certain country.* Though he argued with God, "But that's illegal. It will get me arrested," he felt no release from the assignment.

So he went and, as he expected, his suitcase of Bibles was confiscated and he was put in jail. Fortunately he had one Bible on his person and was soon explaining the gospel to his cellmate. Before the night was over, that man had accepted Jesus.

In the morning the missionary was released. "But you must promise not to give away any more Bibles," the authorities said.

"I'll try," he said, "but I can't promise."

It was no good. He could not resist giving out more copies of the scriptures, and so later in the day found himself being hauled off to jail again. There he was put back in the same cell, where his last night's cellmate lingered on.

He, though, was ecstatic at the missionary's return. "I had so many questions," he said. "I was asking God to send me the answers. He sent you!"

Jesus' words, reinforced by this story, prompt me to ask, how differently would I view life if I looked at things that happen to me as potential occasions for testimony? Things that look bad on the surface — illnesses, hospital stays, accidents...could they be disguised occasions for witness?

I challenge myself, and all of us, to view the events of life with that possibility in mind. Instead of praying for release from the uncomfortable, inconvenient, even nasty incident, let's pray to have the insight to see the opportunity, and the courage to speak the good news about Jesus in it.

*names and identifying details have been left out to protect the people involved.

PRAYER: Dear God, help me to see that You allow every detail in my life for a reason — that things that feel like accidents, mistakes, even tragedies, are there by Your permission. Help me to use these events as occasions to witness about the reality of You in my life. Amen.

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