I got infected with a bad case of “buck fever” this past fall. I had heard about individuals getting so amped seeing horns that they couldn’t shoot straight; but I honestly thought that could never happen to me. I grew up in the country shooting squirrels and skeet. I wrongly assumed that that experience would easily carry over when I had a chance to shoot a monster buck.
Sadly, that was not the case.
When that monster buck came prancing past me, I completely missed him. After missing on two different bucks during the first shotgun season, I left the woods discouraged, disappointed, and down. To make matters worse, on social media I saw big buck after big buck harvested by child after child. And yet, my freezer was still empty and my tag unfilled.
I believe that a lot of individuals face a similar infection with a severe case of “gospel fever.”
Many are convinced that God wants them to share their faith. They eagerly desire to help their co-worker, neighbor, or family member come to an understanding that they desperately need Jesus to save them. When the opportunity comes to have that conversation, however, nerves, uneasiness, personal anxiety, or maybe just a lack of confidence keeps them from sharing the greatest hope in the entire world.
Have you ever been affected by gospel fever? I think at some point every Christian struggles with sharing their faith. The heart races, the words won’t come out, and it seems impossible to start the conversation that a friend most needs to hear.
Having gospel fever doesn’t mean you’re a weak Christian or that you are immature; it just means you are human. God can still use you.
There are several strategies that I can employ to help me overcome buck fever. Likewise, there is help for us to overcome our fears in sharing the gospel:
I have seen people use the buddy system where they take a Christian friend to help with the conversation. Sometimes rehearsing a method of sharing the gospel helps, or practicing a gospel conversation with a friend. The greatest way that I’ve seen people get past their anxiety with sharing their faith is to pray. I’m talking about really praying and seeking God and begging him to help you, to soften the hearts of those you will engage with the gospel, and to provide a chance for you to share your heart.
A few years back, I had the joy of sharing the gospel along with my mom on the mission field. On that day, she was extremely nervous. If I am honest, her gospel explanation wasn’t the smoothest or clearest. It might have been called the Romans Rocky Road. It was rough. However, because she had spent considerable time praying for God to help her and to open the hearts of those she would meet, the Spirit worked powerfully and used her availability to save others.
I’m convinced God can do more in a moment, even through our stammering, than we can do in a lifetime with smooth talking. Even if you have struggled to share in the past, get back in the woods and try again with God’s help. I believe God desires to use you to help the 8 million lost residents of Illinois come to him.
By the way, after completely striking out in the first shotgun season, I didn’t give up but went back in the woods during the second season. While it took multiple shots, I finally got my buck. It was no monster, but it did put meat in our freezer.
God can use you. He can help you get past your anxieties and fears to help others know him. Will you pray for God to give you opportunities to share his message of hope this week?
Sammy Simmons is senior pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Benton. He is serving his second term as IBSA President.