1 The hand of the LORD was upon me, and He brought me out by the Spirit of the LORD and set me down in the middle of the valley; and it was full of bones. 2 He caused me to pass among them round about, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley; and lo, they were very dry. 3 He said to me, "Son of man, can these bones live?" And I answered, "O Lord GOD, You know." 4 Again He said to me, "Prophesy over these bones and say to them, 'O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD.' 5 "Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones, 'Behold, I will cause breath to enter you that you may come to life. (Ezekiel 37:1-5, NASB)We were all dead, bleaching bones-- scattered about the ground without even the dignity of a burial. Left to our own devices, nothing awaited us except further decay. Yet a merciful God, who loved us before we knew Him, breathed life into us, and through his grace, we were made alive in Christ Jesus.
When you witness to a non-believer, you are talking to a dead man. No matter how elegant your words, how persuasive your argument, or how moving your testimony, if God doesn’t quicken him he will remain dead. And if God does give him life, make sure He gets the glory. Take delight in the privilege of being used by God, but take not the credit.
Yet witness we must. God doesn’t tell us to get out of the way while He resurrects the corpse. We are to prophesy over the dead bones. And when the dead are reborn, if they are given life, we must continue to nurture the new believer. As has been said often: there are many evangelical obstetricians but few pediatricians, and that is a serious flaw.
I am thinking about witnessing because I will be doing it tonight, and I need prayer since it will be of the difficult variety. I friend I grew up with in Pittsburgh and went to school with from Kindergarten through college is coming to visit – a bolt out of the blue type thing. I haven’t seen him since before I was a Christian. He is going to encounter a much different "me" than he is expecting. Perhaps like some of you, I find it more difficult to witness to family and old friends than to strangers or coworkers. It is complete mystery to me, as common sense dictates that is should be easier to witness zealously to someone you know and care about. So pray for me also that I am not harboring some vestigial embarrassment about the gospel.
To paraphrase Spurgeon (I cannot remember the exact quote—maybe someone can help me) I am so grateful He chose me before the foundation of time, because if He waited to see how I actually turned out, I would be in big trouble.