When I grew up and was in youth group, we talked about "witnessing," that is, sharing our faith with the lost. Sometimes, in random conversations, the topic of God would come up and, with my heart beating rapidly, I would lay out the gospel, our need for God, our the plan of salvation.
When I was 16, I went to an Evangelism Explosion conference. We wore blue buttons that said, "I found it." The idea was that random people on the street would ask, What did you find? And then we could tell them we found Jesus. I think I wore the button. No one ever asked.
Overall, I felt like a failure as a witness. First of all, I didn't "witness" very often. Most of my friends went to the same church I did.
Second, I never carried the proper equipment with me. Four Spiritual Laws book. Bible.
Third, I never, ever prayed with anyone to receive Christ.
Later on I spiritualized the whole thing. Evangelism isn't my spiritual gift.
A few years ago I realized that all of us are called to be witnesses--all of us called to share the story of our faith journey with people who may not yet know Jesus. I also realized I didn't really know very many non-Christians. That's one of the reasons I headed back to school.
The parable in Mark 4 was a huge part of that realization.
The farmer goes out to sow seed. In this story he seems to throw it out pretty randomly. Now, I don't know much about agriculture, and I don't know if this yields a big crop if we're growing, say, wheat, but it's a parable and we really don't have to think about those things. But anyway, the farmer's out there, scattering seeds everywhere he goes. He doesn't say, "I'm going to avoid the rocky soil, or the area where the sun is so hot it will scorch the new plants." He doesn't confine his seeds to optimal planting territory.
Some seeds fail to take root; others die. But some seeds grow, and the farmer yields a large crop.
We scatter seeds. We share the Word. A little here. A little there.
And I love this part in verses 26-29. "Night and day, whether [the farmer] sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he doesn't know how. all by itself the soil produces grain . . ."
Right now I am scattering seed. I've stopped worrying about whether or not it will grow. That's God's part. My part is to scatter seed. To share my story, God's story in my life. My need for God. I've learned to really love the people God has placed in my life, these people who don't yet know that they need God. I hope I get to see them take steps toward him. But only God can cause a seed to grow.
One other thing. Love.
Somebody, I think John Maxwell, said, "People don't really care how much you know, until they know how much you care."
The saying is trite, but true. Love matters. Jesus came because of love. Jesus died because of love.