A. Philip Parham, an Episcopal priest and counselor, tells what he says is a true story about a street preacher who gave an old man a small, pocket-size New Testament. The man was delighted to get it because the thin pages were just the perfect size for rolling his homemade cigarettes. Over the next several days, he smoked his way through Matthew, Mark, and Luke, and then up to the tenth chapter of John, where he ran out of tobacco. One day, out of sheer boredom, he opened up the little Bible and started reading John 10, where Jesus is portrayed as the Good Shepherd. The message resonated and convicted him of his need to accept Jesus as his Savior. Parham notes that he may be the only person in history who could be said to have smoked his way to heaven.*
I’m sure the street preacher never dreamed the man was going to take the Bible and use its pages for cigarette rollers. If he had, he probably would have kept it and given it to someone he felt was more likely to read it. I know I would’ve. But in doing so, I would have been selling God short.
As this story illustrates, God has wonderful and mysterious ways of getting through to even the most hardened unbelievers. I don’t have any trouble believing that he caused the man’s tobacco to run out right at the tenth chapter of John, knowing the message of that chapter was what the man’s heart was yearning for.
The point is, we need to be constantly sowing seeds. Even when you encounter a crusty old soul who appears to have no interest in spiritual things, sow a seed. You just never know what crazy plan God may have in mind.
You know you’re growing stronger as a Christian when sowing seed no longer seems embarrassing or intimidating or hopeless…when it becomes something you long to do, fully expecting God to do something amazing.
Read: John 10:9-10, Ecclesiastes 3:2, Galatians 6:9
*A. Philip Parham, Letting God (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1987), Sept. 16