Psalm 66:16-20 (NIV)I love to tell the story of unseen things above, of Jesus and his glory, of Jesus and his love.
Come and hear, all you who fear God;
let me tell you what he has done for me.
I cried out to him with my mouth;
his praise was on my tongue.
If I had cherished sin in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened;
but God has surely listened
and has heard my prayer.
Praise be to God,
who has not rejected my prayer
or withheld his love from me!
So goes the beautiful, timeless hymn inspired by verse 16 of Psalm 66 — “Let me tell you what he has done for me.” And as much as I love this hymn, as much as the text speaks logically and spiritually to me, I certainly am not great at taking its message to heart. This may seem like a strange admission for someone who has spent the last month assembling a blog based on scriptural reflections and sharing personal prayers with anyone who is willing to read. But to say sharing my beliefs about Jesus’ sacrifice “satisfies my longings as nothing else could do” is simply not a true reflection of my personality.
I tend to be more of a reactionary evangelist. If someone comes to me with questions, I’m happy to go as deep into faith issues as they find comfortable. I hope the way I carry myself reflects the importance of faith and church to me and my family, and by extension that such reflection makes me approachable. Yet I generally lack the courage to initiate such conversations. I don’t like to project anything onto God, but I would not be surprised to find God disappointed in me on this front. After all, I feel my life is immeasurably enriched, yet I feel no urge to share that with anyone? How selfish is that?
I mentioned a few weeks ago how this project grew out of a small group study of Unbinding Your Heart. One of the chapters in that book addressed the concept of the evangelism pyramid. At the base are the people with who it is easiest to share. If you love to tell the story, these people probably love to hear the story. The prime example was kids — your own or someone else’s (since so many church activities are geared to families or young children, it’s painfully easy to invite a friend to tag along).
During our discussion of this chapter, I had to accept the reality that my sharing the story with my kids primarily involves driving them to church and relying on Sunday school, Vacation Bible School and other Christian education programming to do the sharing for me. I like to think I lead by example, but that’s mostly by making church a clear priority for the family. And all that really teaches a kid to do is go to church, if it even does that much. Alone, going to church doesn’t build a hunger and thirst for the good news.
My kids are 8, 4 and 15 months. They’ve all been baptized, they all go to church weekly, and the older ones are involved in a few programs. Maybe, at their ages, we’re doing enough so far. After all, the 8-year-old won’t believe me when I tell him about his sleepwalking escapades, and the 4-year-old doesn’t seem remotely interested in obeying basic house rules with anything approaching consistency. How much can I really expect of these guys?
Or maybe what I see as “enough” is barely the minimum. Maybe I should be planting seeds now and tending the spiritual garden. In retrospect, I feel certain my own parents did a better job in this regard with me than I am passing on to their grandsons (which, of course, just makes me feel worse about what I may not be doing, though I know my mother would not want me to feel that way).
I don’t have many answers; I may not even have one. But I’ll tell you this: tomorrow morning, when a hymn comes to mind on my way back from the bus stop (and I have a good guess which one it will be), I won’t sing it in my head. I’ll make sure Charlie hears me, though he won’t understand the words and my attempt at the melody could be less than pleasant. If this is going to be my theme in glory, it needs to pass from my lips while I’m still Earthbound as well.
I love to tell the story of unseen things above,A prayer for May 22:
of Jesus and his glory, of Jesus and his love.
I love to tell the story because I know ’tis true;
it satisfies my longings as nothing else could do.
I love to tell the story, ’twill be my theme in glory
to tell the old, old story of Jesus and his love.
I love to tell the story; ’tis pleasant to repeat
what seems each time I tell it more wonderfully sweet.
I love to tell the story, for some have never heard
the message of salvation from God’s own holy Word.
I love to tell the story; for those who know it best
Seem hungering and thirsting to hear it like the rest.
And when, in scenes of glory, I sing the new, new song,
’twill be the old, old story that I have loved so long.
Lord, I do love the story of Jesus and his glory. I know you have listened to me and my prayers, and while your work to me is mysterious, I believe in your promises to us and that you will not withhold love from those who seek you. I pray for the courage to share the message of salvation, the perception to sense opportunities to do so and the wisdom to find the right words. God, your presence is the cornerstone of my life, and I want to be sure others know what that means to me and what it might mean for them as well. Use me as you see fit. Amen.