Do you ever wonder how God might use even your smallest attempts at sharing the Good News?
Last week the Lord gave me a glimpse of what sometimes happens as a result of one of those attempts.
As the people who know me know, I ask God daily for divine appointments—meetings with people who will be willing to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ.
I was on vacation last week, and prayed that same prayer again, reminding myself that a vacation didn’t mean I could shirk my responsibility of sharing the Good News.
So I gave someone a tract.
I’m not only a fisher of men, but a fisher of fish. I own a fishing boat and wanted to take it on the big local lake in an attempt to catch some big ones. However, to do so required a boat inspection. I had an appointment at a boat inspection site late on the first full day of vacation only to find five young boat inspectors with nothing to do—there were no other boats in sight!
The young inspector in charge of talking to me explained the situation. Due to the pandemic and the boating season’s late start, the inspection station initially had been literally overrun by tourists needing their boats inspected. Yes, I had remembered hearing huge boat inspection lines had kept people waiting for hours. As a result, higher-ups in the boat inspection bureaucracy had made some rules to ensure an appropriate amount of time was spent inspecting each boat, and one of those rules required boaters to make online appointments for boat inspections in half-hour blocks of time before showing up at the inspection station.
Labor Day was now two weeks past. The rules still applied though the conditions—overrun boat inspection stations—did not. “As you can see, we don’t have much to do,” the young boat inspector confessed. He was referring to the fact that all five inspectors had emerged from the tiny 10 x 20-foot hut that constituted the inspection station’s office to inspect my boat.
My boat passed. My friendly inspector excused himself to retrieve a wire to wrap between my boat and its trailer. If the wire was broken without being replaced by an official at the big lake, I would be required to have my boat inspected again.
As he returned to attach the wire, I determined to give him one of three tracts I customarily give out. I considered his age and likely background. He and the other inspectors were all college-age—they had likely taken the job for the summer between semesters. Thus, I suspected that they had likely been thoroughly indoctrinated by the secular materialistic agnostic and atheistic assumptions so prevalent in school these days, including the theory of evolution. So I provided him with a copy of “The Atheist Test”, a provocative, colorful, fun-looking comic book-style tract by Ray Comfort that absolutely destroys the theory of evolution in the course of two or three easy-to-read pages, and then presents the Gospel.
He accepted the tract, though less enthusiastically than I had hoped. While he didn’t promise to read it himself, he did offer to leave it in the office where others might.
Well, plans change. Instead of heading to the big lake, I decided to take the grandkids on a boat ride at a smaller nearby lake. So by midweek the wire that entitled me to my prized fishing trip to the big lake had been cut and needed to be replaced—something I had been assured would happen when my boat was inspected once again.
So I headed back over to the inspection station as we left the smaller lake, but this time without an appointment. Signs leading up to the station assured us the station was closed or there was to be “No entrance” and it was by appointment only. The result was again an open boat inspection station, three idle boat inspectors, and no boats in sight—except mine. Too intimidated by the signs to drive up the actual boat inspection lane, I merely pulled up alongside the outside of the office as it faced the street and parked.
All of these details, as it turned out, were according to a divine purpose.
As I walked up to the window next to the street, what did I see? Lo and behold, there were two otherwise-idle boat inspectors who were at that precise moment inspecting “The Atheist Test”! A young lady, sitting at a desk next to the rear window of the office, which I was now peering through, was holding “The Atheist Test” high up in front of her face, opening and closing it before her eyes, as she either quoted it or discussed it with another inspector.
My original friendly boat inspector had kept his word—he had indeed left my tract for other terribly bored idle boat inspectors to read! And my faithful God had kept His Word—that His Word will not return to Him void without accomplishing the purpose for which He had sent it (see Isaiah 55:11).
It was as though I were in Gideon’s shoes when God had sent him into the Midianite camp the night before battle, only to discover that even the Midianite soldiers were prophesying a mighty victory for Gideon!
And guess who had the temerity to interrupt this pregnant moment! Yes, sir. As you might know, I had big fish to catch! So I interrupted to ask if it were possible to get my boat inspected without an appointment.
I was immediately assured that it absolutely was not. So, I asked how I could make an appointment. I was told I could do so online. Obviously, I did not have my laptop up and running before me. Nevertheless, there were three idle boat inspectors looking for something to do, and my boat was there, ready to be inspected . . . if only someone could overcome the blind, unbending bureaucracy which had set up this perfectly maddening and impossible circumstance.
They then supplied me with the number to the boat inspection “hotline.” I proceeded to call it four times, only to find that it was cold and dead. At this point, the head man, sensing just how ridiculous the circumstances were, decided to give me a break. Reluctantly, and gradually, the bureaucratic snarl of impossible rules was loosened, and three boat inspectors came out to play.
I decided to make the most of this “fishing” opportunity. As the three inspectors combed over my boat, I revealed my identity as the one who had placed “The Atheist Test” in their midst. The boss noted the effect it had had on the young lady. “She wanted to frame it!” he noted. Then he confessed that with regard to Jesus Christ, he hadn’t yet decided where he would come down on that question.
So I asked my favorite question. “If you were to die tonight and meet God at heaven’s gate and He were to ask you why He should let you in, what would you say?” The head man admitted that while he had read “The Atheist Test,” he wasn’t sure. So I simply explained that the big deal was that heaven, or salvation, was a free gift that comes through a repentant faith in Christ’s death for our sins. And that Christ had been demonstrated to be the Son of God by dozens of fulfilled prophecies and His own resurrection. I then quoted John 3:16, emphasizing God’s love for them. He respectfully and thoughtfully listened.
The same couldn’t be said for the young lady who wanted to frame the tract. Having been educated at a so-called Christian university (spell that C-A-T-H-O-L-I-C) in Northern California, she had been fully convinced by her many readings that the Bible had too many different versions and too many different interpretations to be believed, and Christian missionaries had ruined both the culture and lives of too many a heathen tribe. Nevertheless, for some reason, she had been so impressed by the arguments of “The Atheist Test,” she had literally wanted to frame it!
On top of that, who knows how many other absolutely-bored-out-of-their-mind young boat inspectors who had rotated through that little hut that week had heard the Gospel because of it!
Finally, the inspection was over. The head man assured me that he had done me a favor that he would not repeat. And more than that, he insisted that I tell anyone who asked that I had had an appoint-ment.
I agreed wholeheartedly! Obviously, it had indeed been a “divine” appointment.
~ Jim Wallace
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