I moved outdoors from the bustle of a noisy restaurant to take a call on my cell phone. As I was about to return, I passed a gospel tract to a woman who sat alone at a table. She looked at the tract, then to my surprise jumped up and kissed me on the cheek. I was delighted--not with the kiss, but with the woman's reaction to the tract.
A few weeks earlier I'd received a different response. Kirk and I were standing in a hotel elevator in Florida when a gentleman (to whom I had given a gospel tract) cussed at me, chewed me out, and spat what was left in little pieces onto the ground. We were waiting to go up, but he sure put me down. I was devastated. I felt humiliated. I also felt as though I never wanted to give out another tract. Ever!
Rejection is a powerful blow to human pride. It cuts deep, like a burning arrow in the heart. It makes the most courageous of us want to withdraw in defeat. It is when that sharp arrow pierces the flesh that we need to think of the sinful woman of whom the Bible speaks in Luke 7:36-50.
She came into the house of a Pharisee, stood behind Jesus and began to wash His feet with her tears. Perhaps she quietly approached the Master as He lay at a table in typical Middle-Eastern fashion--on His side with His feet behind Him. As she listened to His gracious words, tears of contrition began to fall in great droplets onto His feet. We are told that (for some reason) the Pharisee didn't follow the custom of the day and wash the feet of the Savior as He entered His home. It is therefore likely that her tears mingled with (and darkened) the dust from the street that was on His feet. Perhaps it was then that she dropped to her knees and with tears in her eyes began to dry His feet with her hair. A woman's hair is her glory, but she so humbled herself that she forgot her natural vanity, and dried His dusty and wet feet with the locks of her hair.
Those who have heard His gracious words and have seen their own sinful condition, fall at the feet of Jesus and wash them in tears of contrition. They can be clothed with humility because they have been stripped of their pride and of this life's vanities. It is there that they understand that all that really matters is the approval of God. It is there that His will becomes their will…they too will want to have beautiful feet, shod with the preparation of the Gospel of Peace.
Then, when the world casts stones of rejection, we will look to the heavens and see Jesus standing at the right hand of God. When they nail our hands and feet to a cross of restraint, we still seek only the approval of God. When they offer the vinegar of bitter scorn so that fear causes our tongue to cleave to our jaws, we will still speak, because we seek only the smile of God.
The next time you gaze at moonlight, realize that it is actually the result of an explosion of a star so big that this earth fits into its volume a million times. The explosion sent light 93 million miles in a straight line traveling at 186,000 miles per second and hit dirt on the face of the moon. The light then reflected towards this earth and traveled another 250,000 miles at the same speed, so that you could have soft light in the darkness of the night.
We are surrounded by many such miracles, but we don't give them a second thought. If we did, we would begin to comprehend that God is the Maker of this incredible creation we so take for granted. It is when we see the unspeakable greatness of His power, that we will see how important it is to seek His approval rather than that of lowly dust that he shaped into man by His miracle-working hand.
The moonlight will also remind us of the fact that even though we are called "children of light," we don't have our own light. We merely reflect the Light that is unapproachable. One day it will reveal itself in flaming fire. The pain of our rejection by this world fades, compared to the unspeakable terror of the world's rejection by God.
The first time Jesus preached in his home town His hearers were so wrath-filled, they tried to kill Him by throwing Him off a cliff (see Luke 4:29). But He didn't end His ministry simply because He was despised and rejected by men. Instead, He "committed Himself to Him that judges righteously." He looked to the smile of a holy God, rather than the frown of a sinful world.
So the next time you let your little light shine by preaching the gospel, or giving out a tract and a bucking bronco throws you for a loop, chews you up and spits you onto the soil, remember the moonlight. Remember how it just reflects the brilliance of the sun. Then get up and find another horse, and get back into the saddle…while there is still time.