When I was in grad school, we had a ministry where students would go out and share the gospel in the Wake Forest, NC. community. We would show up, get our street assignments, and take off. Eager to gain experience and ready to share the Word, we took turns taking the lead.
When it was my turn, we approached a very nice house. The hedges were perfectly trimmed. The cars in the driveway shined with a new coat of wax. In the front yard, there was a man who I thought was walking his dog. Really he was not walking the dog; he was letting the dog relieve himself. (That is a fancy way for saying he was waiting for the dog to finish pooping).
I was not sure how to start the conversation. I could not just say, “Hey, what are you doing?” So I led with the best line I knew, “Excuse me sir. Can I tell you about Jesus?” (Creative right?)
Without blinking, the man pulled out a brown paper bag from his back pocket. He stooped down and picked up the freshly laid pile. Then he lifted it to my face, and with strong disdain, he said, “Sir, I would rather pick this up than listen to you.”
Game over. He wins. We walk away.
Whenever I have told that story over the years, it never fails to elicit a strong reaction. I inevitably end up looking at a group of appalled faces. Who could ever do such a thing, we think? Yet we never stop to think that in less graphic and obnoxious ways, we do the same thing to God all the time. When God gives us a clear prohibition we ignore, we in effect say, “God, I would rather . . .” When God gives us a command we refuse to obey, it is a form of saying, “Lord, I’d rather . . .”
Whatever our plans and whatever our accomplishments, they are as refuse compared to knowing and serving our Lord (see Phil. 3:7-8). This is true even as our culture grows increasingly hostile to our message. So, today, let’s be joyful and let us be faithful, even when someone says, “Sir, I’d rather . . . ”