The Pocket Full of Quarters Lady
Do you not say, 'Four months more and then the harvest'? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. John 4:35-36 NIV
The settings were the same – nighttime conversations around the campfire. The message was the same – All who call on the name of the Lord will be saved. The evangelist and the Holy Spirit were the same. The first night a couple heard the Gospel and said no. The second night, seven friends heard the Gospel and all seven met Jesus. Why?
The answer most give to that is that the people the first night weren’t “ready.” Logical but not Biblical. Jesus scolds us for saying the harvest needs more time. He goes on to tell us to open our eyes and look at the fields. They are ripe for harvest! If people needed time to get “ready,” why would multitudes have met Jesus at Pentecost or Billy Graham revivals? Why would seven people pray to meet Jesus at the same time? If ready was a requirement, the odds would be against so many getting “ready” at the same second. I agree that people are “ready” now for salvation because the Bible says it and I have witnessed it so many times.
So, why did the couple say no? The answer is simple…they weren’t willing…yet. There are many examples in the Bible of people who were not willing. Think about one of the two thieves on the cross or the rich young ruler who walked away from Jesus without Jesus.
So why would people be unwilling to say yes to Jesus? Maybe, they don’t believe yet or believed at one time but never met Jesus personally so they stopped believing. That is why it is so important to speak the Gospel scriptures to people – it will not return void and will continue to work long after we leave. The combination of the scripture and the Holy Spirit testifying to the truth of it is impossible to ignore for long.
I think the more common reason people say no is that they are damaged. At some point, they gave Christians, Christianity, and/or the church a try. They most likely were taught “about” Jesus but not told how to “meet” Jesus and never developed a love relationship with Jesus. Then, something disappointed or wounded them and they bolted.
At the first campfire, I walked outside with Shiloh. The couple loved dogs so they called her over. They introduced themselves and when I tried to introduce myself the woman said, “We know who you are. We saw your website on your camper and looked it up on my I-pad. I’ve been all over it.”
“And you still talked to me?” I teased. They laughed. “Are you believers?”
“We believe in something,” the man said. “A higher power. I tried church but it didn’t work for me.”
She said, “It doesn’t have to be Jesus. It can be more than that.”
“What about the next life? Where do you think you’ll go.”
“My mother used to tell me I was going to hell,” she answered.
“I’m so sorry,” I said, stunned by her words. “Why did she think that?”
“She didn’t like what I was doing. She was Catholic and told me constantly I was going to hell. I don’t believe her. I’m a good person and think I get more than one chance.”
“Being bad doesn’t send us to hell,” I said. “We’ve all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. The wages of sin is death but God’s gift to us is eternal life if we ask for it. My favorite line in the entire Bible is that all who call on the name of the Lord Jesus will be saved. That’s a promise. Christians are forgiven, not good. When you went to church, did either of you ever develop a relationship with Jesus?”
“Can’t say that I did,” the man said. She also shook her head.
You know the end of the story. They had some belief at one time. The church and the faulty theology of a parent let them down. They left the church without meeting Jesus and were not willing at this time to give Christianity a second chance. I spent another hour chatting about life in general, and enjoying their company. I didn’t need to debate them or beg them to meet Jesus because I trust the word of God and the scripture to continue working.
So what happened the next night? I arrived at the crowded campground and was put in an area mostly filled with tents. Seven friends, aged 21 and 22 were having a high school track team weekend mini-reunion.
“I hope we won’t be too loud for you,” one said. His words rendered me speechless as I pondered the volume of the many rock concerts I’ve evangelized at and six grandchildren running around my house.
“I don’t think it’s possible for noise to be too loud for me,” I said. “However, I might decide to join your party later.”
“Come on,” one of them hollered. “Join us any time.” I was teasing and they knew it so I continued to walk Shiloh, set up camp, and then blogged.
When I finished posting, I walked Shiloh and one of them asked again if they were too loud.
I laughed and explained that I went to rock concerts so noise didn’t bother me.
“Come over and talk to us,” someone invited. You don’t have to ask me twice.
“You go to rock concerts?” one of them exclaimed. “Which one?”
“I’ve been to Bonnaroo several times.”
A collective impressed gasp came from the crowd sitting in the dark around the campfire. The girl closest to me said, “It is our dream to go to Bonnaroo. Which bands are your favorite?”
“I am a musician and like most kinds of music,” I said. “I especially enjoy the Celtic music that is so popular. I hate to disappoint you but as much as I enjoy the music, I don’t go for the music.” I went on to tell them why I went.
“That’s cool,” the same girl said again.
“Are any of you Christians?” I asked.
“I go to Christmas Eve mass,” a young man volunteered. “I love it but I don’t really believe in that stuff.”
“Why do you go?”
“For my mom.”
“On behalf of mom’s everywhere, I want to thank you. We moms like that kind of stuff. It sounds like you grew up Catholic. Did you go through confirmation, communion, and confession?”
“I did but I haven’t been to confession since I was ten.”
“Maybe you haven’t sinned since you were ten.” Everyone hooted at that.
“Well,” I said, “If you’ve sinned, you are in good company. We’ve all sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God. The wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life. What about the afterlife? Do any of you have any clue where you are going next?”
Most shook their heads.
“My dad teaches a Bible study,” someone volunteered. “He talks to me about Jesus all the time.”
“That’s great but I’m pretty sure you don’t get after life cred because your Dad teaches the Bible. The Bible says all who call on the name of the Lord will be saved. I think that means you have to do it for yourself.”
“I have a confession to make,” the young man who hadn’t been to confession since he was 10 said.
“I’ll listen to your confession,” I offered and everyone laughed again. I loved these polite young people and felt blessed to be so accepted.
“I’m a hypocrite. I say I don’t believe but when I get in trouble, I pray. I guess it is because I was taught to pray. I don’t understand it and I think praying when I don’t believe means I’m a hypocrite.”
That was it. I knew it was coming. I had thought to myself…wait for it…wait for it.…My heart soared. It was what I call the Holy Spirit Hook. Everyone got quiet. I felt the power of God flow through me and knew what to say next.
“You are not a hypocrite,” I assured quietly. “It just means that deep down, you believe. Almost everyone does at some level. God built you with a God shaped hole. You might try to put other things in it but nothing else fits but God. May I lead all of you in a prayer to meet Jesus right now? The Bible says that if you have a mustard seed level of faith, you can meet Jesus. That is tiny and you all have that much.”
I held my breath and waited. They looked at each other. The one who labeled himself a hypocrite finally said, “Sure…why not. Let’s do this.” They all nodded their agreement and we prayed. After the prayer, they all sat silently and let them enjoy the moment. Finally, I told them that what they were feeling was the Holy Spirit and He was theirs forever. I also told them that the angels were throwing a party because they met Jesus and that an angel party was even better then a Bonnaroo party. Everyone laughed.
So why did they say yes? They all had been to church and still believed at some level but had never met Jesus personally. Eventually, they stopped going to church but because they hadn’t been damaged, they were willing to say yes to the simple invitation.
It’s been a great week. 15 people said yes to Jesus. Probably double that said no but if they gave me a chance to speak the words of the Gospel over them, I have faith that they will eventually meet Jesus. The harvest is ripe. Don’t miss the reaping – it is the sweetest thing anyone can experience this side of eternity.
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