Have you ever experienced wanting to speak to someone, to tell them the hope you have in the Lord Jesus, only to hear in your head, “Oh, I’ve tried so many times to speak God’s word to her, and it always falls off of her like water against a rock.”
In these moments it seems we are speaking to a brick wall, for no signs are evident that she’s ‘getting it’. It seems like a waste of time. Is it, really? When we speak the Word of God to others, is it ever really wasted?
In these moments of doubt, when the Word seems to fly over the head of another, the words of Isaiah leave me with hope:
Thus says the Lord:
Just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down and do not return there till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful, giving seed to the one who sows and bread to the one who eats, so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; my word shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it” (Isaiah55:10-11).
These words of God are an encouragement to all who are called to share His Word with others. It may seem at times we are not making any headway, and that’s okay. It isn’t us that are accomplishing the important part; we are only the messenger. So, in delivering God’s message, what is our part?
Prayer. First and foremost, before we share the Good News with anyone, we must ask the Lord to guide our minds and hearts to speak His word, and His word alone. Praying first, accomplishes a lot.
Perhaps you have experienced it? Being in an unplanned situation where you find yourself before someone who needs a word of encouragement. You don’t feel prepared, and you find yourself sending up a silent prayer, “Dear God, send your Spirit that I might have your word to speak.” These small moments of prayer are signs of our docility. It shows our disposition to be God’s instrument as a messenger. We place ourselves at the disposal of God, recognizing we have nothing to offer the person in their moment of crisis, except God.
What transpires, more often than not when we are docile, is a moment of grace for both the one in crisis as well as for us, the messengers. We find ourselves saying things that we would not have thought of on our own. We recognize after the fact, that “where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20). The meeting becomes a holy one, guided by the True Minister, Christ himself.
Be prepared. As Christians, we have a duty to witness to others of our faith. As Saint Paul teaches us, “always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your faith” (1 Peter 3:15). Our testimony to the truth works on two levels. The first – by grace – is bestowed by God. The other part of the formula – our preparation – comes through the deepening of our own relationship with God at the Font of Sacred Scripture, Prayer and the Sacraments. When we are faithful, consistently, in taking the Word of God in our lives and meditating on it, the more apt and ready we are to share that word from our experience with it. God, more fully can use us because of our preparation (Note: it is not because of our preparation that makes us the best witnesses, but it does make us more open to be understanding of the brokenness in others, and thus more credible witnesses of God’s love).
Thirst for Souls. When we reflect on the earthly ministry of Jesus, we can recognize his zeal for souls through the hours of time he spent, sometimes days at a time, preaching, teaching and healing those who came to Him. He saw them as sheep without a shepherd, and worked endlessly to bring the love of God the Father to those who needed Him most. Jesus hungered after the soul of the Samaritan woman at the well, and through her others came to believe in Him (“I have a food to eat of which you do not know” John 4:32). His final act of redemption on the Cross reveals His thirst; so thirsty for souls as to hand over His own life on the Cross (John 19:28). The deep desire of Jesus, aligned with the Father’s divine will, was rooted in charity of its purest form: unwavering love for God demonstrated through his ‘obedience unto death'; and love for the souls of all of the Father’s children. We too, as we are called to carry forth Jesus’ mission and message of salvation, must desire to bring all to the Father through Jesus Christ.
Despite what society might want us to believe, love for our neighbor and for God and His divine will is not a feeling, but rather, it is born out of a choice. Love of its purest form is not based on emotion, but on one’s decision to do what God would desire, regardless of our ‘feelings’. Our thirst for souls will grow, as we ask God to give us the grace to love. May He fill us with love for the person before us, that we may act in her best interest. This may require us to desire holy courage, especially if the person has not been so friendly towards us in the past. Ministry of the Word is not about us. It is a self-emptying to want the best for the other. Naturally, we don’t want to look like a fool in the eyes of the other, and yet God’s word often may appear to be foolish to the wise. If God wants, let us be fools for Him in our speech.
Today, as God sends down His word, let us make the decision to help it to be fruitful. Just as the Lord allows the rain to fall on both the good and the bad, is it possible that He also desires the Word to fall indiscriminately upon all of us? Does the Lord know something that we do not when we feel that ‘quickening of our spirit’ to share the Word with someone? How His word has the power – not on our telling it but solely on what it is – to penetrate the most callous of souls and soften the hardest of hearts? So, the next time we feel we are standing at a brick wall, let us recall the Lord’s promise: “My word shall not return to me void, but shall.do.my.will”!