We should probably talk some more about that discouragement issue because it never goes away. You teach and teach and teach; you invite at every opportunity that comes along; you serve and reach out, and yet it seems like nothing comes of it. If you aren’t careful, you stop trying. It isn’t doing any good, is it? That is not for us to say.
I told you before of the young woman I tried to reach so long ago. Just because I have no contact with her now, doesn’t mean nothing came of it. I remember having discussions during free periods in high school. I took friends to Bible study with me. I wrote essays in English class that I knew would be passed around the class for comment. I have never seen anything come from any of that, but as Keith often says, I don’t need to be whittling on God’s end of the stick. He is the one who gives the increase. When I start meddling in His affairs, I become disheartened. If I stick with my own end, I will stay too busy to worry about the results.
I suppose my biggest dose of discouragement came a couple of years ago. Some new neighbors had moved in a few years before and she and became friends. I easily recruited her to a local community service club, but anything religiously oriented was a different story. So I invited her to a coffee at my home where she met some of my church family. So far, so good. I invited her to our women’s Bible study, and immediately she distanced herself. Too much too soon, I thought, so I had a church friend whose decorating ability she had shown interest in, invite her to lunch at her home, along with another church sister. An instant yes, but then as the day approached my neighbor suddenly developed something else she had to do.
So I backed off again. I still mentioned the church to her as often as possible, telling her how wonderful they were. I made sure she knew about all the help I received after all the surgeries, and she was genuinely impressed so I invited again, including a written invitation. Still nothing.
Then one day, her husband called to tell me she had died without warning. No one even knew she had been sick. In fact, we had talked on the phone just three days before. It was like a kick in the stomach. I do not believe I have ever felt quite so discouraged in my sowing duties.
That is exactly what the enemy wants, and that is exactly why you need to stop worrying about God’s end of the stick. When the depression is accompanied by grief it is especially debilitating. All you need to remember is this: Just. Keep. Sowing!
Since that time I have suddenly had more opportunities to speak to people. God is encouraging me, I thought, so I have tried to do my part as well. I am anything but the Great Evangelist, but here are a few things I have tried. Perhaps you could add a few more tips at the bottom.
When I have the car maintenance done, I purposely make the appointment right before ladies’ Bible class so I can use the shuttle service to the class if it is available. You would be surprised how many drivers want to know what I will be teaching, and then ask about the church. I have even managed to give out a few tracts.
When I buy my groceries I do it before Bible class and then have the bagger put the cold things into my cooler. “I have to teach a Bible class before I go home,” I explain, and that has led to conversations too.
I carry my Bible and my notebook to doctor’s appointments and write these little essays there. As many appointments as I have, surely someone will be interested some day. Even the cleaning lady recognizes me now.
I have no idea if any of these things or others I do will bear fruit, but I do “consider him faithful who has promised,” Heb 11:11, and He promised to see to the growth of the seed if I just sow it.
Don’t become depressed when you don’t see results from your work. That part is none of your business. Just keep sowing the seed. You do your part, and He will do His.
What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. 1 Corinthians 3:5-8.