So you’re looking for opportunities to take steps of faith with your neighbor. You’re doing everything you can think of to demonstrate the gospel. And you really want a chance to discuss what each of you believe.
But it seems like nothing is happening. It feels like God is not present or active. What do you do?
That’s what happened to me with my friend Lisa.
When I first met Lisa, I knew God had placed her in my life for a reason. He was asking me to love her through simple steps of faith: learning the story of why she was an atheist, meeting her kids, sharing details of my life with her over coffee, and even helping her move.
One day, after our friendship had been growing for months, the opportunity arrived. Lisa gave me a ride home and our conversation led to a chance to share the gospel through my story.
I remember my heart was pounding. I was excited and afraid.
“Thanks for this opportunity, God,” I prayed. “But what will she think of me? What if I mess it up? Give me courage.”
So I took the step of faith, shared my story and prayed that God would bless it. Her response? “How sweet,” she said.
I know she didn’t mean to, but those words came across as condescending, as if I was a little girl and she was patting me on the head. I was crushed. My story seemed to have fallen on deaf ears.
“Where are you, God? Did I do something wrong?” I asked.
Surely if I take the step of faith, God will work in Lisa’s heart. Right? And yet there was no immediate evidence of God changing anything. At that time I saw nothing come from my step of faith.
I think it’s common to lose heart in situations where we do not see God show up in the way we want him to.
So what do we do when we are not able to see what he is doing? How do we keep going and persevere through disappointment?
Look up: Reflect on God’s promises
“For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ” (2 Corinthians 1:20).
This verse reassures me that if God has promised it, he will fulfill it. He is trustworthy. When I could not see what God was doing with Lisa, I held on to a few truths about God:
- I love my friend, but God loves her more. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
- I must be faithful with my part, but only God has the power to change my friend’s heart. 1 Corinthians 3:5-6 says, “Each of us did the work the Lord gave us. I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow.”
- God’s timing is better than mine. 2 Peter 3:8-9 says, “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
When I store these truths in my heart, they propel me forward — even if I cannot see what God is doing.
How hard do you find it to believe these truths about God?
Look back: Remember God’s faithfulness
In the Old Testament, Israelites built large rock pillars to record significant events. The pillars were used to remind passersby of something God did in that place.
In a similar way, when I’m discouraged I remind myself of ways God showed his faithfulness to me in the past. Sometimes it takes reading my old journals to recognize God was at work. Here are some of the rocks I find in the pages of my journal:
- A prayer that I prayed and the way God answered it.
- Trials I experienced that led to a blessing.
- Small details of my journey with God I would have missed if I had not looked back.
I’ve begun using MissionHub to capture small steps of faith that I took with Lisa and to see what God is doing as a result. Now I can reread the story of Lisa, me and God, reminding myself of all the times God showed up along the way.
Sometimes we have to look back to recognize what God might still be doing.
Look forward: Embrace missional living
When I know the truth about God and notice his faithfulness in the past, I’m compelled to trust him with the future.
I’ve heard faith defined as “belief with legs.” It’s not enough to trust in my head, I must trust with actions. Rather than being paralyzed by a moment when it’s hard to see God’s active involvement, I look forward. I continue taking small steps of faith to demonstrate my belief that he is still at work.
Every moment I spend with Lisa, every time I tangibly serve her, every time I tell her I am praying for her — each of these steps lay the groundwork for me to share the gospel. And in the times when I do not know what small thing I can do next, MissionHub proves a helpful tool. It offers simple, relevant steps of faith to take with the person I’m focused on.
Sometimes you cannot see God at work… until suddenly you do
A month after Lisa gave me that ride home, and many small steps of faith later, I saw God at work.
Lisa arrived late to meet me, her eyes red from crying. Sitting down beside me, she immediately broke down.
“I’m getting a divorce,” she said. “I’ve known for one month and have told no one. You’re the first person. He left today. I feel so empty.”
I hugged her, let her cry and asked if I could pray with her. Between sobs, my atheist friend said, “Yes. Please.” This was the beginning of Lisa’s journey of exploring faith in Jesus.
God had been working the whole time. I just was not able to see it. All those simple steps of faith I took — to love Lisa, build trust with her and eventually share the gospel — God used every one. I kept going and God kept working.
We do not always see the results of the steps of faith we take. But God teaches us something both when we do see and when we do not.
With Lisa, God eventually gave me the blessing of seeing him at work and knowing I was part of it. But before that happened I had to look up, look back, look forward and then just keep going.
If you want help thinking about whom to focus on and what steps of faith to take next, I encourage you to do what I did and download MissionHub.
It’s a great way to see your journey with a friend develop and appreciate how God is at work in both of your lives.