A Mud Puddle Explorer
Now don’t misunderstand me—mud puddles can be fascinating things.
Frogs occasionally lay their eggs there, so you might see swimming tadpoles or bizarre aquatic insect larvae living underwater.
Perhaps this young girl is a budding biologist. She’s fascinated by what she sees in the water—something no one else noticed. I suspect she’s watching living creatures.
That’s my best guess, because I’ve gazed into a few mud puddles myself.
A clear rain puddle can also create a temporary mirror, showcasing interesting buildings or colorful trees against a blue sky. Observant photographers often take advantage of these natural “reflecting pools” to snap some wonderful images.
This image of an Amsterdam church’s reflection in Holland is a fine example of just how clearly pooled rainwater can reflect the world above it.
Yet as a biologist, I can say confidently that fish don’t live in temporary mud puddles.
I will admit, however, that certain types of fish can live in very strange places, like deserts and oxygen-poor mangrove swamps. Check out two of the most amazing fish species ever created by clicking the links under “Resources” at the end of this post.
Jesus’ Call to Start Fishing
18 As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” (Matthew 4:18-19 NIV)
So have you caught anything lately? Me neither.
I’ve come to believe my fishing technique is all wrong. Anytime I tried to share the gospel, I seemed to drive people further away, rather than draw them closer to Jesus.
Finally, after college, I stopped sharing my faith. I decided evangelism was not one of my gifts.
Yet I couldn’t help feeling ashamed after I stopped witnessing to people.
My heart was caught in a dilemma. People’s eternity hung in the balance, yet my efforts to share about Christ just seemed to irritate.
My Failure to “Fish for People”
I know that I have an amazing gift to bring to people in my culture. Through us, the Lord offers each person the free gift of Heaven. Added to that, the richness, emotional healing and purpose Jesus has brought into my own life in the last 30 years is astonishing. Yet I’m the world’s worst fisherman.
In college, I learned to share the gospel clearly and completely, in one “compact burst.” But evangelism felt like I was suddenly ambushing people and hitting them in the head with a brick.
Nobody responded well, so I stopped evangelizing. I still prayed for people to get saved, but I didn’t try to share about entering into a personal relationship with Jesus.
Now I am learning a new and better way to share my faith.
A Different Way
God can use each of us as “links in the chain” as He draws people to Himself. Another person might help them get saved, but we often play an essential part in opening their hearts to Jesus’ message of love and forgiveness.
Christians I’m acquainted with see me as kind and compassionate, but do my neighbors or my co-workers? How about the check-out clerk at the grocery store? Or the poor service person on the other end of the phone, when I’m frustrated and frazzled about getting my computer software to work?
As our world gets darker, kindness shines like a bright light to unbelievers, because they no longer expect it.
Please understand, I believe each of us needs to be able to present the gospel clearly, in case the Lord suddenly asks us to. Praying for those who don’t know Jesus is also essential. Whether you are a gifted evangelist or not, it’s always the Holy Spirit who draws them into a relationship with Christ.
But here’s a key question for me. Can I listen to an unbeliever’s point of view, without interrupting or arguing or injecting my own opinion? Do I show a sincere interest in who they are and what they believe? Do I ask questions to draw them out?
Listening and keeping quiet is a very big “flesh-burner” for me, because I’m a passionate, opinionated woman. Yet people in our culture are starving to be heard. Listening often has the added bonus of making people feel loved and accepted just as they are. It also opens up the conversation—personal questions start flowing both ways.
We’re often shocked when non-Christians don’t think like us—but remember, they’re not believers! For too long, we’ve scolded them for not sharing our values—but how could they? Their worldview is completely different.
Yet people’s hunger for spirituality has never been higher.
Jesus Didn’t Fish in Mud Puddles
What does the name of my post mean?
It means Jesus didn’t sit home and wait for people to knock on His door. He went seeking them, in the marketplace, on the seashore, in the synagogue and even while walking from town to town.
Too often we sit inside our churches, waiting for the unsaved to wander in.
When Jesus interacted with people, He started from where they were, spiritually and morally—not “from where they were supposed to be.” Maybe it was offering them bread or healing or a gentle word, but our Savior always freely gave of Himself first.
So stop trying to immediately “hook” people with the gospel—unless one of your spiritual gifts is evangelism. Instead, be the lure that draws them closer to Jesus.
The insights I shared came from a book by Jim Henderson called, “Evangelism without Additives.”
When I think about my own salvation experience, I realize that one Christian woman’s friendship made an eternal difference in my life. It took a year, but thanks to Debbie, I came to believe God was real and gave my life to Christ.