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Can You Tell Me How ...

13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”… 39 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did" (Jn. 4:13-15, 39, NIV).

It seems as if I’m one of those people whom others believe can give them directions. All of my life people have been stopping to ask me for directions.

“Do you know where? … How would I get to? … What’s the best way to? …” and then, it’s to a place of business, to a school, to an address, and even directions to types of places to which a pastor doesn’t want to be giving directions! (Of course, that was when I worked as a night clerk at a Holiday Inn!)

But people don’t just stop and ask me for directions when I’m working or when I was at these kinds of jobs … they have stopped me when I am running, they have stopped me while I’m walking down the street, they have flagged me down while in my car.

It’s so common that Debbie and the kids just kind of smirk and nod their head knowingly. And it’s not just when I am in a place of which I know well … it happens all of the time when I travel, too. I was stopped in Costa Rica … by Ticanos … and, believe me - I don’t look like a Tico ... and I was asked for directions.

I happened to know the answer on that particular occasion, but really! What is it about me that people think I can tell them where to go and how to get there? And I don’t mean that in the negative way -- which also is probably true!

The thing is … I’m not really complaining about this ability (or this welcoming appearance). I like that people see something in me that makes them think I can help them … I can give them directions. And I hope this is true not only in the physical world, but also in the spiritual world. I like to think that I can help people find Jesus by just living my faith confidently and waiting for them to ask, “How do I find peace? … Can you introduce me to Jesus? … What must I do to be saved?”

But it doesn’t happen … even when people know that I am not just a Christian, but that I’m also a pastor. It just seems like it’s human nature to not ask for help when we are struggling spiritually. And that spiritual struggle often manifests itself into emotional, relational, and even into physical struggles.

Maybe, just maybe, that’s why God knew the only way to really get us humans to truly connect with the Eternal was to come to us. So, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us”, not just to ask if we are all right, but to challenge us towards a new way of belief, to give us a renewed sense of hope, and to enter into an eternal relationship with Him (Jesus, a.k.a., God, and even with the Holy Spirit – the Three in One).

I would really like the process of evangelism and of making disciples to be attractional.

It isn’t.

You have to go—to reach out—to enter into relationship with another in order to proclaim the Gospel – the Good News – that there is a better life available, and that life does not involve fame, fortune, power or any of the other markers of “success” in this world. It takes vulnerability on our parts to admit that we, too, are on a journey, but that we have found something in our relationship with Christ that keeps us pressing on toward the call of Jesus in our lives.

And I wish that I were pure enough of heart to want to make the effort to go and to be vulnerable to others out of the goodness of my own heart.

But I don’t. I feel pretty secure in my own relationship to God and in the relationship of the people closest and most important to me … so why bother with others.

Because Christ tells us to do so. Because some of the people He feels closest to … who are important to Him … are lost and struggling to find the way back home. And so, He commands us to go and to make disciples … followers … whom we can lead on the path to Him just as we are being led there.

Who are the people around you … maybe not “in” your life, but on the fringes who need a friend to guide them toward Christ? Not talking about people who might be good church members to join you in the pew … not talking about people whom you feel called to reach … but people whom you encounter and to whom you can give a cup of living water? People whom you encounter and whom you engage in this physical world … people who need you to encounter them in the eternal?



Lord, I don’t want to be an evangelist … I don’t want to go out and help you find the “lost sheep” … I want to stay here sitting at your feet basking in your wisdom and goodness. But you tell me to go … and so I’ll do my best to go. Help me in going, to learn to love others as you love them … to see their importance as you see them … to serve them as you have first served me. Amen.


Rev. Dr. Steve Van Ostran

Executive Minister

American Baptist Churches of the Rocky Mountains


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