Written by: Fitch, Bill Posted on: 03/31/2003
by Bill Fitch, Canyon View Christian Fellowship (A/G) Newsletter
San Diego CA
How long? Who knows. The valley had started out dim like twilight with unclimbable
granite walls reaching up towards the sky. It had started wide enough to support a few stunted
trees, but as the days grew on the valley narrowed. As they progressed farther into the canyon
they had been forced to choose between forks in the valley. Even though they had always chosen
the widest fork they were now in a damp, dark, narrow ravine that was so narrow that they had to
go in single file. What had started out as twilight was now almost dark. The damp moss had be
replaced with frigid trickling water & slime. Not one of the twelve people in the party had been
dry for days. The water & granite seemed to suck the living warmth right out of a person. Now,
finally, just ahead of them the chasm widened and they could see the drawbridge with the light
of the open door beyond. Their search was over. The long journey was just about finished. All
along the way they had met terrors and had turned them back. Too bad Jeff had disappeared
down a side branch. All they had to do now was cover that last hundred yards and cross the
drawbridge! Oh, for the warmth of that fire! It seemed as if they had worked for this all their
lives. Ted started to run first. Then Alexander. Then the others. Except Theo, he was just too
tired, he jogged along behind crying to the others to wait up. REeorROAR! Suddenly the entire
moat was full of intense flame and out of that flame came the head of the most hideous moat
monster ever described to a child around the campfire. The monster seemed to be made of
nothing but yellow flames!! Red coals burned in each eye staring down at the frightened men.
That stare meant only one thing. Turn back or be burned. Theo immediately turned back running
headlong down the path. Coward. Didn't he know the legend? If you stand up to the dragon and
just walk past it, then it can't hurt you. That unmerciful dragon is well versed in the art of
dissuasion. It will point to the errors you have made. It will tell you that the warm light is not
what you expect it will be. But all you have to do is remember everything you have based your
life on, focus on the light just ahead and just ignore the dragon as you walk past. Frank, Nathan,
Erik, Susan, Yvonne, and five others did just that. They entered the warm light and the sound of
many inside with their heads held high. Thomas stopped and talked with the dragon. Soon he
dropped his head, turned around and followed Theo.
OK, Peretti I'm not. By now you have made some assumptions as to where I am going
with this story and what it represents. You might have guessed that the valley is the shadow of
death or an aspect of our life journey with the castle, with its open door and warm fire within, as
one possible end to that journey. Give yourself a gold star! The dragon is an evangelist standing
at the gates of hell. The castle, called Hell, with its gates open wide welcoming all those who
come to it, is found by taking the widest paths. How else would an evangelist look to those who
were about to enter hell? Would the evangelist not be reluctant to be turned away this time
knowing that they would not have a second chance? Would not his message be turn now or burn?
Meeting an evangelist now would be a threat to everything the seekers had invested in during
their entire life! He could nullify, literally put to death, everything they had esteemed or worked
to accomplish. An evangelist could unmercifully undo decades of striving at the last moment,
just like a moat monster at the entrance to a castle could finish a long journey at the very thresh
Evangelism is tough. I'm personally terrible at it myself. Traditional evangelism starts
something like, "Hi, I'm Bill..." Not me, no way, na-uh. I don't talk to people I don't know,
period. Does that get me off the hook? Unfortunately no. If nothing else I can live my
Christianity and just make it known that the anchor in my life is Jesus. Your coworkers will
know your sins, but they will be impressed not with a lack of sin but with the fact that you have
an anchor. Once, long ago, I had a supervisor suddenly call me out into the hall. Standing there
with my knees knocking he asked me this question, "I want to start reading the Bible but don't
know which one to buy and I know your into that kind of thing and, well, this is kinda of
embarrassing but, could you..." I do not know what prompted him to return to Christ, but having
someone in his life who just quietly read on breaks was a constant reminder to him of something
he had lost long before. Without that reminder he might have turned to something else.
Another day, long ago, while in the U.S. Navy my division was waiting in our office for
our division officer to give us the morning orders when my chief, who had been staring at the
floor, suddenly said, "You know, the only people who haven't lost control lately are the
Christians." He said it like a man bested in a contest. You see we had just finished working two,
(or was it three?), 126 hour work weeks. During that time there had been several fist fights, many
screaming matches and the air was constantly blue with short syllable, expletive deleted,
language. The Christians also used some colorful language during that time, muttered about
making brick without straw, and had suffered from clenched teeth, but their behavior was
nothing like the behavior of the others in our division. We had been ordered by our captain to
work 2 sixteen hour days and one 40 hour day in every four days for several weeks so that the
ship would be ready for an inspection. (He lost his command shortly thereafter.) Those in our
division that did not have an anchor showed it, while those who had just a little bit of an anchor
showed their ability to weather the storm. This became very obvious even to our chief who went
so far as to mention it during a meeting of the entire division.
This is not enough though. We can't just live our own lives and expect people around us
to be effected. We have to pray. We have to proactively seek salvation in our coworkers through
prayer. Part of that prayer needs to be a humility to speak to the individual when the time is right.
If we pray God will send them to us or give us opportunity, but we will have to talk to them in
what ever condition or mind set they are in when they come. We also have to be willing to speak.
If we push them off when they come then everything is for naught. We need to be ready "in
season and out of season" because like that one supervisor we never know when we will have
people come to us, or who God will send. If God prepares a relative, neighbor or coworkers for
you to witness to and you can't do it right then, what a great loss that is, what an opportunity
missed! Don't wait until the opportunity is past. Ask your pastor about evangelism training.
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