When Chris and I were newlyweds, we joined a group of people at our church who would go door to door telling others about Jesus. As part of the process, we memorized a presentation of the gospel of Jesus Christ, including verses. This made me nervous. It took me forever to remember those words. What if I forgot a verse? What if I forgot a reference? What if the person interrupted me mid-sentence? Why did I sound like a robot when I practiced?
My team consisted of Chris, myself, and our friend Shannon. The first door we ever knocked on went unanswered. And the next. And the next. And I have to be honest with you on this…I was a little relieved when we knocked and no one was home. Ok, maybe a lot relieved. This meant I didn’t have to talk yet.
You see, I’m not much of a conversaltionalist with people over the age of six. It takes a while for me to get to know a person, to feel safe enough with them to risk exchanging words with them beyond “Hi”, “How are you?”, and “Thanks!”. So when I imagined a stranger opening up the door (right around supper time, of course), the last thing I felt like saying was ,”If you went to heaven and stood before God today and He said ‘Why should you live in heaven for eternity?’ what would you say to Him?” (We had pleasantries and other things to say that led up to this question, by the way. We didn’t just throw this out as soon as the door opened!)
On our third week, we started to get discouraged. For all of my trepidation, the reason Chris and I both joined this group was because we felt God’s calling on our heart to take the gospel of Christ into our neighborhood. Our church has grown us to be mission-minded, and the gospel of Jesus being carried around the world is important to us. We knew that if we wanted to spread the gospel overseas, whether by praying, giving, or going, we also needed to be involved in spreading it to our neighbors.
So on this third week, we had visited four houses. At two houses, there was no answer, although we did see some movement in the window! At the third house, we were chased back to the car by a dog. We drove and drove looking for the fourth house and decided finally that it did not exist.
Disillusioned, we started back for the church. Shannon suggested that we stop by her brother’s house, which was on the way. Her brother, a minister, was getting ready for church himself, with his family of six. Children were bustling up and down and all around. In the midst of the activity, he invited us in to talk about our experiences.
I’ll never forget when he turned to me and said “Go ahead, Paige. Shoot. Tell me what you’d say to me if I wanted to know about Jesus.”
I couldn’t think. I almost couldn’t breathe! I was so not the person God should use for this job. I started stumbling around, trying to spit out the words I’d memorized, and finally stopped in the middle, defeated. He leaned back, his kind eyes full of wisdom.
“No one is going to want that salvation. It’s not from your heart. What is in your heart?”
I began to tell him what was in my heart. Chris, Shannon, and I talked about the Jesus we knew. The Jesus who had saved us. We talked about the Jesus who loved our neighbors, who loved the ones across the ocean. We talked about the Jesus who saw past our black hearts, the One who fixed our hearts and made them clean.
“That’s the salvation that people want,” he said. “It’s about Jesus and what you’ve done with Him.”
What had we done with Jesus in our lives? Was He showing up not in our words–the sincere words, not the memorized ones? Was He showing up in our actions?
We went home revived, recharged, and inspired. He could use us. We didn’t have to be perfect. We didn’t have to have the perfect words. He would use our imperfections in His own perfect way.
That night after church, Shannon called.
We’d not seen her brother’s little girl sitting quietly in the corner of the living room. But she had seen us, and she had listened as we talked with real words about a real Jesus. After we had left her house, after she went to her own church that night, she began to ask her parents about what we had talked about. She decided that she wanted this Jesus to come and fix her heart. That night, she knelt with her mom and dad and prayed to receive Christ in her heart.
It’s not a bad thing to go door-to-door witnessing for Christ. It’s not a bad thing at all to just know what to say. Some people are born with the gift of speaking. It’s a skill I struggle with to this day. But He is also present in every other facet of our lives. He makes Himself known through our actions, through our choices, and through our bumbly, mixed-up words. He took my simple, heartfelt testimony and made it clear to a child.
He makes Himself known, especially when we make ourselves available.
We don’t have to have the right words, or the perfect circumstances. He works best through our weaknesses, after all! If our hearts are available, Christ will use us, working through us to make Himself known.
Give Us Broken Hearts Words by: Renee McGullion Music by: Paige Givens