Even with his pastor/missionary dad, there wasn't much one on one. Paul was fourth of six kids, and teaching was generally delivered to them as a group.
In pondering this, we're seeing a good, seriously encouraging side to this. Paul has been walking with the Lord since he was 15, with some ups and downs at the beginning, true, but with steady progress and growth. How? It's worth knowing because we'd love to replicate him. We'd love to have hundreds and thousands of Christians who devote their full lives to reaching others with the GOOD NEWS of Jesus, boldly. Day after day, year after year, on four continents, in season out of season.
In his pondering, he made a list of men who influenced his life. Besides his mom and dad, there were missionaries, preachers and Bible college teachers. Most of them didn't know that their teaching was life changing for him. But their discipling of him was at a distance, not personal. Biographies of missionaries and evangelists were helpful to him, but, of course, that teaching was not personal.
|Gallup, our eye candy, shown with 2 books that influenced Paul's walk and mind Deeper Experiences of Famous Christians and Pilgrim's Progress. Don't you love Gallup's cross-eared look?|
His mom did spend personal time in training him, especially getting him started in Bible reading each day and seeing that all six children had their own Bible reading each morning before doing other things. He spent (and spends) a lot of time in the Bible. That has been the BIG help in his life and ministry.
He mentioned his sister, Faith. She launched their whole family into a nursing home ministry that still goes on today, more than 50 years later. She also set the example for the five siblings of memorizing hundreds of Bible verses well enough to quote them all together accurately. Faith was his partner when his dad sent them out two by two to speak in public schools in South Carolina. They sang together while she played the accordion, and then he would preach with chalk art. She was a big help to him.
Jesus said, "The Kingdom of God cometh not with observation...for the Kingdom of God is within you" (Luke 17:20-21).
I find this so comforting! We are sowers of the seed. But the seed falls on different kinds of soil. We read it in family Bible reading today, which inspired this writing. :-) Jesus said, "So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how" (Mark 4:26,27).
We don't know what is going on in people's hearts. We'll be able to tell eventually by their fruits, but we give out the seed (the Word of God) to people, not knowing if they are "good soil" or "rocky" or what. It takes time to see the "Fruit". The Doings.
So how does this comfort me? Because we have so, so many unknowns in our work. Paul can give out the Word to 1000 people a day, many days. Many of those people will give a word or a sign that they want to follow Jesus. Yeah! That's hopeful! But because we don't see the heart, we don't know what's going on "underground" as the farmer can't see the seed while it's underground.
That doesn't mean nothing is happening! The kingdom of God does not come with observation. Later we'll know some, but I think we'll learn the most about what we helped in, someday in Heaven.
We'd like to do more, to follow up more, to get more feedback, but there is only so much time and strength. It's OK not to know everything. God does His work even in the dark.