July 14

July 14
by Pastor Judy

I really enjoyed Joe’s sermon last Sunday (if you missed it, go here: https://vimeo.com/channels/1551217 and click on July 12)  Among other things, he spoke about the Holy Spirit who empowers our witness, and our need to trust in the outcome.

You and I are tasked to share the good news.  As Joe said: we are not called to be the defending attorney (God can defend himself quite well!), but simply to be witnesses on the witness stand.  We are to tell what we have seen and heard; what we have experienced.  That’s a fairly inoffensive thing to do.  Most people are interested in hearing the stories of others, including their experiences of God in their lives.

I remember my mother’s difficulty with witnessing.  She had been a serious child, very conscientious and terrified of saying the wrong thing.  She knew she should witness her faith, but she didn’t know how.  Many years later, she told me that she had overheard a high school “friend” tell another, “If being a Christian means being like Naomi Eastvold, then I’m not interested.”  Crushing!  

My mom did not have a high level of self-esteem.  She was rather a timid person.  And so the very idea of “witnessing” loomed large in her mind.  It was intimidating.

It wasn’t until the end of her life that she began to relax a little.  She became less likely to be critical of others (as she was so critical of herself), to smile and laugh a little more.  She found her voice.  As the head nurse at California Lutheran College (as it was back then), she was a caring, warm presence to the students.  They respected her and sought her out.

When she was diagnosed with cancer, all her reserves were abandoned.  People would go to visit her with the purpose of cheering her up — and would leave, themselves having been cheered.  She shared her faith without a sense of “should,” but rather out of her hope of heaven.  Sharing her faith became as natural to her as breathing.  And watching her, I remember thinking, “I don’t want to wait until I’m dying to have that kind of faith.”  Of course, it was the Holy Spirit working in her, all the time.

Jesus once warned his disciples that they might be arrested for speaking about him.  (So far, we have not had to worry about this!)  His next words, however, are just as relevant for you and me as they were to his hearers back then:

18 On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. 19 But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 20 for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.  (Matthew 10:18-20)

Dear friends, don’t worry about what you are to say!  Trust God for the outcome, and the words and opportunities will be given to you.

And here is evidence that God is, indeed, in charge of the outcome: when my mom died, we had to hold her memorial in the college gym — a church would not have been big enough to hold all the people who came (I think about 500).  Probably more people came to Christ as a result of her last months of life — and maybe because of her memorial (which was called a Victory Celebration at her request) — than in all the previous years of her life.  God is faithful!  You can trust in him.


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