Along with other parents who had to read “The Cat in the Hat” to their children many times, we have learned that a lot of chaos can ensue when unsupervised children let three strangers into their house for the day. The story starts, though, with the narrator and his sister stuck inside the house while it rains. (Clearly, this was written before video games and other forms of electronic entertainment were commonplace!)
We’ve probably all been in that situation before. Maybe – like the characters in that book – we want to go outside and do something, but the weather is bad. Maybe we’re stuck in a car, bus, or airplane for hours on end, trying to get somewhere. Maybe we just feel trapped in a job that keeps us from doing what we are passionate about.
If so, verses like the following might bug us a little bit:
Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.
John 4:35 NIV
When we know that there is more to be done in telling people about the Kingdom of God, but our situation leaves us “stuck” while the harvest is waiting, it can be frustrating to feel like we’re not making a difference. We know that souls need to be introduced to Jesus, and those who have chosen to follow Him often need additional help (to learn more about Him) after that.
In these cases, I may get angry (whether at the situation, or just at other people who – through no fault of their own – happen to cross my path that day). I may become depressed, as I focus on what I think is not getting done. I may try to “jump start” God’s plan, as if He needed me to get something going before His time.
Instead, though, what can we (I?) do to get ourselves through those times of waiting? When the rain gets in the way of our plans, and it seems that our efforts aren’t yielding fruit (in the form of others’ lives who are being changed for the better), what should we do?
For one thing, we can pray for other human beings who still need Jesus. This suggestion can sound trite and over-simplified, but the value of prayer becomes most clear when we start to appreciate the power of God that He can bring to bear in this situation. God is the One who calls people to Himself, and is the source of the message (even as He left the church to help share it). And, if that isn’t enough, Jesus told His disciples to pray for help in reaching people:
He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.
Luke 10:2 NIV
When we feel “stuck” in helping share the good news about Jesus, we can also seek out people who need Him. Our call is not to just increase the number of people who follow Jesus in this world, out of some sort of “competition” with other beliefs. Instead, if we believe that Jesus is the only way to God, and that He offers blessings not found anywhere else, it is only natural that we would want to share His healing with other people. Jesus didn’t call people to Himself in order to become socially popular (i.e., to feed His ego); instead, He felt compassion for those who needed help.
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
Matthew 9:36 NIV
Find those who need help – whether visible or hidden – and reach out to them. Offer to do what you can, even if it is just listening to their stories, or referring them to someone (or Someone) who can do more for them. Serve them in Jesus’ name and show them the same selfless love that He did for others. (Hint: this doesn’t have anything to do with location. Just as Jesus healed in both synagogues and on the road, we can serve people in houses of worship, or in homes, markets, schools, workplaces, and roadsides.)
And finally, you may be called to support others who are able to share Jesus’ life and teachings with people who haven’t heard about Him. I believe that every Christian has the responsibility to share the message when God gives us a chance to do so, but there are those who have been given more opportunities (but not always the physical resources) to do so. Whether we call them pastors, missionaries, service providers, or just Christians, we can help them bring hope to others.
So, share what you have, and don’t settle for just being “stuck indoors”. Now is the time that we need to point souls (those that are in pain) to Jesus, the great Healer.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.