It’s important to respect other people’s spiritual journeys. This afternoon, I had tea with a dear friend and in the midst of our conversation, I told her a story about how this truth came alive in my life.
Summer had come to an end and it was time to return to school. I was teaching at a Christian school at the time and the CEO, Mr. Brown (not his real name) gathered all the teachers together for a pep talk. After showing us some flashy overheads and impressive “to do” lists, this is what he said:
“It would be a tragedy if any student who attended this school would graduate without becoming a Christian. This year, we need to survey the student body and find out who is and who isn’t a Christian. You need to make sure that you share the Gospel with every child who isn’t a Christian. It’s your job as teachers to lead all your students to Christ.”
There was dead silence in the room.
I put up my hand and spoke.
“Mr. Brown, no disrespect to you but I strongly disagree with what you’ve said. My job is to deliver the curriculum with a standard of excellence and to love my students well. As a teacher, it’s important to openly share the love of Christ with my words and my actions but it’s not my job to lead every student to Christ. I don’t need to be assured of my students’ salvation – they do…and it will happen in God’s timing, not mine.
Now there was an awkward silence in the room.
Mr. Brown looked me in the eye and asked, “Don’t you want every one of your students to go to heaven?”
“It’s not about what I want, Mr. Brown. It’s not about my way, my words or my timing. God loves my students more than I do and He will pursue their souls. They are all on a spiritual journey and I am to come along side God’s work in their lives, not have my own agenda about when they “should” become Christians. Isaiah 55;8,9 says that His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts. I am to be faithful, prepared and willing to share the love of Christ but I desire His miraculous power in their lives…and His timing is perfect.”
I believe Mr. Brown thanked me for my input and carried on with his challenge to the staff.
It was a very long year.
In Francis Thompson’s book, “The Hound of Heaven,” he writes about God’s pursuit of his soul and how divine love caught up with him. Salvation is a miraculous work of God and it happens in as many different ways as there are people who are willing to surrender their lives to His control.
God has perfect timing; never early, never late.