A Willing Heart, with a Ready Mind, through an Open Door
“God will use what you prepare.” I heard that recently in a message I was listening to. It really struck me. I think sometimes we can be lazy with our time and become complacent with the abilities God has given us. We can be guilty of giving little to no thought or effort to the preparation of important things- and expect somehow a good result when the time comes. At least, I know I am. I believe, as Christians, we should have a higher standard.
Luke 12:48 says- “...For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.”
Also, I Corinthians 4:2- “Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.”
If the Lord desires to use us, as He does, for His glory and the furtherance of the Gospel of Christ, wouldn’t it just be wise, to be ready? If I was asked to sing a special next Sunday, wouldn’t it be smart to practice? Or if I needed to fix something, to make sure I had all the right tools? I wouldn’t avoid culinary skills in the kitchen and then start working in a four-star restaurant. There is wisdom in being ready for what the Lord wants you to do.
“Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands. For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (II Timothy 1:6-7)
“Nothing is small or great in God’s sight; whatsoever He wills becomes great to us, however seemingly trifling, and if once the voice of conscience tells us that He requires anything of us, we have no right to measure its importance. On the other hand, whatever He would not have us do, however important we may think it, is as nought to us. How do you know what you may lose by neglecting this duty, which you think so trifling, or the blessing which its faithful performance may bring? Be sure that if you do your very best in that which is laid upon you daily, you will not be left without sufficient help when some weightier occasion arises. Give yourself to Him, trust Him, fix your eye upon Him, listen to His voice, and then go on bravely and cheerfully.” (Jean Nicolas Grou- “Daily Strength for Daily Needs” P.24)
Faithfulness in the little things, that can often be overlooked, is very important. Because even though it may feel a “small thing”- it is equally of the same importance to Him. We cannot deem anything small, that He deems of great importance, even when men do. The Lord told me, not long ago, that He wanted me to learn the piano. I don’t honestly know for what reason, He didn’t give one. He didn’t have to. But I know He has a good reason for it. Somewhere, sometime, someday, He wants to use that ability. To neglect it, would be disobedience. It would also be throwing away an opportunity to be used of the Lord in a way I don’t know of yet. And it would not only affect me, but others also. What blessing may we be forfeiting, what opportunity lost? Anytime the Lord has asked something specifically of me, I’ve always been glad I listened and gave it. He is a master planner and knows what I do not. He is trustworthy as He is worthy of all we are and all we possess. However, this doesn’t even include the idea of natural talents and abilities He has given to us, which can either be sad nothingness or gateways of opportunity for Him. What a blessing it might be if we were to develop our natural, God-given abilities and talents. For some, it could be musical talent or artistic ability. A gift for learning languages or writing books. Maybe even certain personality traits or physical differences. The list is endless as it is personal. Often times, He’s given us even those little desires of our hearts for a good reason. Not that “every desire” we have is a good desire. But the desires that are from Him. (Psalms 37) And Philippians 2:13 says- “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” So if it is true, that the more we prepare the more He is able to use, why aren’t we preparing?
“It is by doing our duty that we learn to do it. So long as men dispute whether or no a thing is their duty, they get never the nearer. Let them set ever so weakly about doing it, and the face of things alters. They find in themselves strength which they knew not of. Difficulties which it seemed to them they could not get over, disappear. For He accompanies it with the influences of His blessed Spirit, and each performance opens our minds for larger influxes of His grace, and places them in communion with Him.” (E. B. Pusey, “Daily Strength for Daily Needs” P.22)
I Peter 3:15 says- “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:”
The Lord has commanded us to be ready to give an answer for the hope that lieth within us. There is nothing “optional” about that verse. We are told to be ready. Recently, the Lord gave me a special opportunity to witness to someone. As my family was traveling down to California, we all took our designated seats on the airplane. It wasn’t a very full flight and only maybe ¾ or so of the seats were actually taken. So I made my way to 15B. My sister sat beside me. And then, “Cindy”. A middle-aged woman with short sandy-blond hair and a very sad and lonely, but independent, feeling about her. Here were all these empty seats… but the Lord had her sit in 15C. And He had a reason. I didn’t feel very social or talkative, but we started up a conversation regardless. Mostly small chit-chat at first. She was a very lonely person. Experienced “life” to the fullest meaning of the word and found it wanting. She was curious. She listened. She asked questions. So for over 2 hours I talked and witnessed to her. She believed in a “god” (basically a higher power of some sort or religion), but knew nothing about Jesus. I was struck by the realization that people literally don’t know. And I know that many are willingly ignorant, but others, have honestly never heard. Hurts my heart. So I laid out the gospel from the beginning. I shared my personal testimony. She could tell there was something different about me. She remarked how she knew she didn’t have what I had. She admitted that she was a sinner, but still was trusting blindly in a “good vs. bad” heavenly scale. This was when my sister joined our conversation. I’ve never seen someone with so much conviction with nowhere to go. But the more His Spirit brought conviction, the more she seemed to listen. I was thankful for that. In the end, I gave her a “DONE book”. (A short little book that explains the gospel really well.) She was interested enough to tell me that she’d read it. And although I may never see “Cindy” again in this life- I honestly suspect that I maybe will in the next.
“…and be ready always to give an answer.” I believe the biggest part to being “ready” to share Christ with someone is in knowing Him personally for yourself. It is easy to talk about someone you love. To tell someone about a person you know. I've never hesitated to tell anyone that I have a physical earthly father. Because I know him. I believe another important part to being “ready” is simply by being willing. When we are completely surrendered to Him and filled with His Spirit, He delights to open the doors, to bring someone into your life or along the way in His timing. Seeds can be sown. Hearts can be stirred. Souls can be saved. I know that if we asked- we’d receive. And if we dared to knock, He’d open the door. I am amazed and blessed at how often He gives me the words to say. It wasn't something I rehearsed of myself. When we depend on Him, He’ll give us the courage needed and our words can be His words. And with this dependence, came a confidence and a boldness I hadn't experienced before. I wasn't afraid, because I knew He was with me. I didn't feel a panic to think of the right response to a question. He gave the answers. He wants to talk to that lost soul more than I do and He knows just how to do it. It is His Spirit that draws. In a way, witnessing feels like jumping off a dock into deep, cold, and unknown water, just to find that there is really a solid rock on which to stand just beneath you all along. The initial jump is the hardest. One more thought that comes to my mind with being “ready”, is literal preparation. I was encouraged by how much scripture I actually knew without thinking about it. Knowing your Bible, studying and memorizing scripture, and even reading good books are all good ways to prepare.
“Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, … Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.” (I Timothy 4:12-16)
Philippians 4:13 says- “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” We have everything we could ever need in Christ, in His strength. When He asks us to do something, He gives us the power to do it. If there is a lesson to be learned, He’s the best teacher. If He wants us to develop a certain useful skill or simply practice what we already know, He gives the ability. He’ll go before us. He promises to make a way, even in the wilderness.
Hannah W. Smith once wrote- “If He commands me to do a thing, I am sure He will give me the power of His Spirit to do it. His commands are not grievous, we are told, but surely they would be grievous if we were unable to obey them. It would have been grievous if God had commanded the children of Israel to go in and possess the land of Canaan, and knowing they were unable to do it, had not intended to supply them with power. But, in fact, His very command was the reason why they should have no fear in undertaking what He had told them to do.”
(“God is Enough” P. 138)
What is it you already know God has asked you to do? What aren’t you preparing for? Will you have a willing heart? A ready mind? And in doing so, allow Him to open the doors of blessed opportunity.