Have you ever gone through a period of time when God seems to be using the most random things to introduce one common theme into your mind and not let it leave? When every sermon, every poem, every event and conversation that month have conspired together to make you think about a particular topic? This happens to me frequently. And when it occurs, it is usually the Holy Ghost moving like an ocean tide over the shore of my spirit, seeking to sift and change and grow parts of me to be more like Christ.
The theme that has probed my mind for weeks is people. Awareness of people. I am an introvert—one of those ostensibly weird beings who prefer shadows and books and music instead of spotlights and society and adventure. I didn’t think it possible, but over the course of this year I may have shrunk my shell even closer about me until I find myself more painfully shy than ever. (It might have something to do with visiting over 60 different churches in 30 different states within a year of furlough.) My kind agrees with the statement “Two’s company, three’s a crowd.” It’s all-around exhausting to focus on more than one person at a time.
God knew when He made me that I would have the personality of a snail. He gave me this personality to be used by Him for His glory, so I would have to depend on God to take the positives and negatives of my introversion and transform them through His power. And He will, if I let Him. You’d think I would learn to call on Him for wisdom, after the nine millionth incident of not saying the right thing at the right time, or saying something that came out utterly lame when I did try to speak. I ought to know quite thoroughly by now that I can only be used by my Savior in His strength, not my own.
James 1:5 “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”
I have struggled with not having boldness to witness ever since my salvation. It’s not entirely the fear of not knowing what to say—most of the time I shrink from giving the Gospel because I am afraid to face utter strangers and speak to them. But that fear is of the flesh. I need to remember that if Jesus was willing to suffer unspeakable agonies to win salvation for the world, then I ought to be willing to tell people about it.
Matthew 10:8 “Freely ye have received, freely give.”
Luke 12:48 “For unto whosoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.”
Giving the Gospel is not the only way I have been urged to be more aware of people. Ministry—investing in peoples’ lives to help them draw closer to the Lord—is another avenue. Ministry takes time and effort and forethought. It doesn’t come naturally to all, and especially not to introverts, unless it is the behind-the-scenes work that loners thrive upon. Day to day investing in people has always been an arthritic practice for me. Leading choir and teaching children in Sunday school is ulcer-inducing enough, but actually spending time getting to know and pray for and encourage each person? IMPOSSIBLE, screams every fiber of my being. POSSIBLE, whispers God’s Holy Spirit, when I allow His voice to be heard through the turmoil of my miniscule meltdown.
Matthew 20:28 “Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
The webs of self-pity and comparison can be dangerous. Just because others your age don’t see it worthwhile to minister to you, does not mean God exempts you from ministering to them. Just because you are a relatively new member of your church does not cancel your responsibility to become involved in the work of God. It has been a revelation to me how many people one can get to know in ministry. Just by volunteering to help in a class or go on outreach or decorate the auditorium, I have become acquainted with people I had never noticed before at church. And I am starting to feel again the desire to minister to people—the need to be active in affecting those around me for Christ.
Hebrews 10:24-25 “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”
The Lord is gradually turning my perspective from seeing people as a necessary inconvenience to seeing them as people with insecurities just like mine who need people like me to let them know they matter to God and that God should matter to them. I have felt for a long time like the blind man in Mark 8 who saw “men as trees, walking.” Like him, I need Jesus to touch my eyes and restore to me a proper vision, to see “every man clearly.” I know the battle for right perspective is far from over, but I rejoice in what God is doing in me for now. No matter how physically painful it is to make eye contact, or carry a conversation, or learn child psychology the hard way, I want to grow into the stature of Christ and learn to minister with the holy commitment and compassion He shewed.
Psalm 138:8 “The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands.”
song of inspiration: “give me a vision of calvary love” by abigail miller