FIRST GLIMPSE: only one option
“What are we waiting for? This is the whole reason we came. Let’s go!”
Eric Thomsen is the managing editor of ONE Magazine. Send comments and observations about ONE to firstname.lastname@example.org.
COOL, DANK AIR SWEPT FROM THE NARROW CRACK in the earth, brushing clammy tendrils across our faces and filling our nostrils with the pungent odor of moist earth and untold depths. My youth group whispered to one another nervously as they eyed the small, dark hole before us.
“Are we really going in there?” Dan finally voiced the question in everyone’s mind.
“You asked to go spelunking,” I replied with a smile.
“Yes, but…” Dan’s voice trailed off, and he turned to eye the tiny entrance again. “For a place called ‘Mammoth Cave,’ this sure seems small.”
One by one, we followed our guide into the hole. On hands and knees (and sometimes stomachs), we inched along a long, narrow passage until it finally spilled into a large, open chamber.
Rising stiffly, we huddled in the darkness, like explorers on a strange, new planet. The dim glow of the guide’s flashlight revealed grotesque rock formations, with twisted fingers of stalagmite and stalactite reaching from the darkness. Glistening cave walls provided an eerie backdrop as our guide turned to us with a serious face. “From this point forward,” he whispered dramatically, “there is no going back. The passage we are about to enter is too small to turn around. You have only one option—keep moving ahead. If you are not willing to do this, turn around now and return the way we came.”
For a long moment the group was silent—dubious expressions on tense faces. Then Dan’s calm voice cut through the skepticism. “What are we waiting for? This is the whole reason we came. Let’s go!”
The idea of outreach sometimes makes us feels as though we have arrived in a dark, strange, and frightening place. The thought of telling a friend or coworker about Christ (not to mention a complete stranger) turns our insides to jelly and leaves our mouths dry and hands shaky.
Far too often, we glance around cautiously, waiting for someone else to take the lead, unwilling to step into the darkness ourselves. Statistics tell us that this evangelistic caution has reached epidemic proportions. In 2007, nearly 50% of Christians interviewed by research analyst George Barna said they had no plans to share their faith with a non-believer in the coming year.
But this caution does not concur with Christ’s final command to proclaim His life-changing message to “all the world.” He included no disclaimers like “unless it makes you feel uncomfortable,” “when it is convenient,” or “as long as it is safe.” No, his command was simple, straightforward, and imperative.
The only question is how we will respond. Will we abandon ourselves to His call? Or will we shirk the challenge before us. Dan’s words echo in my ears with one slight change: “What are we waiting for? This is the whole reason HE came. Let’s go!”