November 14, 2012

Bursting to Tell

A few months ago a regular day turned irregular as I found myself unexpectedly in a doctor’s office waiting for a diagnosis. After a series of tests, pokes, and prods, including a hospital stay, I sat listening to my doctor’s prescription of medication, diet, and exercise. The hope that emerged from his treatment plan was the possibility of changing the diagnosis—if I followed orders. Motivated, I accepted the challenge.

Adding exercise into my routine wasn’t too difficult, but the diet seemed overwhelming. I scoured the Internet for information, studied labels, and learned more about food than I ever wanted to know. I suddenly felt like a furnace, with food simply the fuel needed to keep things going. Food wasn’t fun anymore—just a series of numbers and chemicals.

Little by little it got better. I went from feeling hungry to satisfied. I slept better. My thoughts were clearer. My palate changed so that an apple was sweeter than I remembered. And the bonus—I began to lose weight. Everything those health advocates said was true. Eating and exercise did make a body feel good!

2012 1532 page31Suddenly I was a “convert.” People started noticing the weight loss and began to ask how I did it. It was just the invitation I needed. I would launch into my story, my research, my diet, having to watch that I didn’t go too long and see their eyes glaze over. “Change the way you’re eating, find more ways to exercise, and you too can be a new human being!” I was bursting to tell everyone I met how to achieve a new and healthier future. Then it hit me.

I had found truth, and the truth had changed me. The change made my life different, and others began to notice. When they asked how it happened, I enthusiastically told them—asking them to change too. But many walked away sorrowful because the change was too much to ask. Sound familiar? Isn’t this what we are to do with our faith?

Our Adventist pioneers felt exactly that way when they found the truth. They would stop people in train stations and ask if they knew that Jesus was coming again. Joseph Bates was once asked, “What’s the good news?” He replied with a quick and ready answer: “The seventh day is the Sabbath.” They were excited about their faith. They wanted to change people’s lives. Ellen White writes:

“All who receive the gospel message into the heart will long to proclaim it. The heaven-born love of Christ must find expression. Those who have put on Christ will relate their experience, tracing step by step the leadings of the Holy Spirit—their hungering and thirsting for the knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ whom He has sent, the results of their searching of the Scriptures, their prayers, their soul agony, and the words of Christ to them, ‘Thy sins be forgiven thee’ [Matt. 9:2, KJV]. It is unnatural for any to keep these things secret, and those who are filled with the love of Christ will not do so” (Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 125; italics supplied).

I have never thought that my calling was for evangelism. I would guess many share that same belief. I now realize, however, that it isn’t the doing; it’s the telling. If you are passionate about something, you can’t keep quiet, you cannot be silent. Your life will be a witness, including your conversation. You must tell everyone. If I can do it about food or you can do it about a hobby, an interest, a grandchild, a trip—then we can also tell others about Jesus. The question I have had to ask myself is Why haven’t I done it? If He is my best friend, if He has changed my life, if He is my salvation—why wouldn’t I want to tell others?

You know, I can’t wait for someone to ask.

Merle Poirier is operations manager for the Adventist Review. This article was published November 15, 2012.