What about the "What ifs?"- By Ray Comfort
You are standing in a supermarket line. You have a tract ready for the lady at the checkout. You've given out tracts at checkouts before. You have it down. You simply say, "I have something for you that you may like to read when you have a minute." Then you check out. You get away fast. You have learned to conquer your fears.
But as you wait this time, you hear "Price check!" and your heart sinks. You know that you will now be waiting in line for a few extra minutes. You shake off any thoughts of impatience because you know that you shouldn't have them.
As you stand in line, you hear a muffled male voice behind you. He isn't so patient. Your heart skips a beat because there are now three or four others standing in the line behind him. Oh dear. You feel a tinge of fear grip you as you prepare to turn around and offer a million dollar bill tract to the man. That's when the "What ifs" kick in. They begin with "This isn't an ideal tract situation. You are not walking away from the checkout. You are stuck in line. What if you give him a tract and he reads it out loud? It's happened before as you walked away from a checkout, and it made you smile as you heard "The million dollar question? Will you go to Heaven?" You smiled because you were leaving. But what if this man reads it while you are stuck in line? What if other people hear him? Imagine the whole line of people looking at the back of your head as you stood there, thinking, "Religious fanatic!"
Or what if he asks what it is that you gave him? Then what are you going to say? Even if you are able to find the courage to mumble that it's a gospel tract what if you have to speak loudly, and the people behind him hear you?
Kirk and I were in our Way of the Master Radio studio recently when the what ifs hit. Todd Friel (our co-host) said, "If you are not a Christian, and you would like to talk to a dreamy Hollywood actor, call in. We would love to hear from you."
We smiled as we waited for some sweet talking starry-eyed Growing Pains fan to call in and hang onto every word Kirk said. A moment or so later we heard, "We will have a commercial break, and then we will come back to Tim from Connecticut."
Kirk and I looked at each other. This was no wide-eyed, infatuated female fan. This was Tim from Connecticut! Connecticut is the home of Yale University. What if Tim was an Einstein anti-Christian intellectual? Having the gift of insight, I remembered that the word "intimidating" contained the word "Tim." What if Tim hated Growing Pains, and what if he especially hated Kirk?
A few minutes later Kirk was witnessing to Tim. He was a Roman Catholic, and he was questioning the unbiblical practices of his church. What's more, he was a soft-spoken, humble-hearted sincere seeker of truth.
What ifs are lies from the father of lies. They rarely materialize, but they are the fertile soil in which paralyzing fear thrives.
A week or so earlier, Kirk and I were conducting a conference in a church in Louisiana. As we walked into the lobby we saw a painting of a coliseum in Rome. In the painting a huge crowd had packed into the massive stadium. Huddled in the middle of the arena were about sixty people.
A closer examination revealed that they were made up of a few elderly men, and the rest were women and children. Around them stood wooden crosses upon which a dozen or so men were cruelly impaled. At the base of each cross fires had been set to slowly burn those who were already enduring the agony of crucifixion.
Their pain-filled deaths were no doubt slow enough to make sure that these witnesses of Jesus of Nazareth were witnesses of a terrible horror. At the edge of the arena stood a massive lion, and directly behind the hungry beast, a ferocious tiger was entering the scene. The dying men were about to observe the grizzly sight of their precious loved ones being torn limb from limb, no doubt to the roar of a blood-thirsty and delighted mass of spectators.
These men, women and children were martyrs, who chose death above deliverance because they refused to renounce their faith in Jesus. They were unashamed to bare His reproach. These precious brothers and sisters in Christ make me feel ashamed of my shame. Their torn limbs, spilled blood, and burned bodies stand as a stark testimony to my cowardice.
The word "martyr" and the word "witness" come from the same Greek word. I am called to be a martyr for Christ as I stand there in that supermarket line. But I am not called to die for Him. Not yet. I am simply called to live for Him. I am to be a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is my reasonable service.
If fear begins to torment me in the supermarket line, I have to deal with it. And I deal with it by thinking of the courageous martyrs in that arena. I deal with it in the shadow of their agony. I deal with it by considering my wretched fear of looking foolish in my comfortable life, and their incredible courage in their terrible death. I deal with it by thinking of the liberty that I have to walk out of that supermarket and go home to my loved ones. I deal with it by thinking how pathetic I must look to God, as He considers their honorable humility and my horrible pride.
And I deal with it by looking to Jesus, the author and the finisher of my faith, who for the joy that was before Him, endured the agony of the cross, for me.
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