While reading a blog written by Kirk M (@blessings2you) entitled We Cannot Make People Blieve The Word of God, I was reminded of an incident that happened when I was very young. My family had gone up north and one day we stopped at a place where there was a petting zoo. To my great delight there were some horses and before my parents could stop me, I raced towards one them, eager to pet it. If you are the least bit familiar with horses, you know exactly what happened. The horse bolted away and would not let me approach it.
I tried in vain to regain its confidence. I approached it slowly this time, holding feed in my hand the way my father had shown me. Other horses would then approach me but not the one I had frightened away. Sadly I watched other children pat the horse I had frightened but it was no use. Perhaps over time things would change but there was no time left. The damage was done and I had to move on.
I walked over to another area where there was a buffalo calf. With my most recent message in mind, I slowly and quietly approached it. Suddenly an older buffalo, detecting the corn I held in my hand, attempted to steal it. I quickly closed my hand over the corn just in time but the buffalo was persistant. It wanted the corn and it was bigger than me. It gently but firmly pushed against me, knocking my down and the corn kernels flew everywhere. It had been successful but it had left me angry, frightened and howling.
I love zeal. When I am excited about something, you know I am excited. Even at my age I still shout and dance about, scarcely able to contain myself. As Christians we have the very best news of all to proclaim and yet too often we race at our victim like I raced at that horse. Instead of coming at them quietly with an extended hand full of good food, we clench the food tightly in our hand and rush over to them, yelling at the top of our lungs. We should not be surprised in the least when they bolt. Sometimes, instead of running over to them, we put our head down and slam into them again and again until they become hurt, angry and even afraid of us.
We need to be careful. This does not mean we should be timid about sharing the Gospel but it does mean that we need to use wisdom. We need to ask God to help us and direct us in regards to how we need to approach people and then we need to do things His way, not our way.
Well, I can relate to the zeal thing, having pulled my jumper over my head and danced round the living room to celebrate a Scottish try in the RWC this weekend.
The analogy is excellent as Beth M (@blest) said - thank you for sharing it.
There is a good side to zeal, for sure - like all that good stuff - but if we're not careful it can have the 'buffalo effect' you described so well. I need to watch for it because I've done some stampeding myself as well as occasionally getting trampled
A number of years ago, I managed to get a Muslim to come along to church. Unfortunately, we had a rather rampant visiting preacher on that occasion, whose sermon was strongly-worded against people of other denominations, full of condemnation and, for the icing on the cake, lacked consideration for newcomers. I am sure he had planned it as a stirring message for mature believers, but to an absolute newcomer it was like being charged by a rhinoceros. Suffice to say, that person never accompanied me to church again.
God bless and thanks again,