One of my favorite characters from the Sherwood Pictures film Facing the Giants is Mr. Bridges (played by Ray Wood), the gentleman who walks the halls praying for the students in the high school as he passes by their lockers. In case you aren’t familiar with the movie, Coach Grant Taylor (played by Alex Kendrick) coaches a football team for a Christian high school in Georgia. His team is floundering, he is dealing with disappointments at home, and his faith is wavering. He’s hearing rumors that his job is on the line. Entering Coach Taylor’s office uninvited and unannounced, Mr. Bridges first brings a prophetic word to the Coach, exhorting him to stay strong because God’s not finished with him yet at that school. After Coach shares some of his doubts, Mr. Bridges asks the Coach a faith-building question: If two farmers pray for rain, but only one prepares his field to receive it, which farmer trusted that God would bring the rain? Mr. Bridges then offers Coach Taylor this wise and Godly advice: “Prepare your field to receive [the rain].” Watch the clip here.
By telling the Coach to “prepare his field,” Mr. Bridges didn’t mean that Coach should do some extra work on the playing surface in the school’s stadium. For Coach Taylor’s character, first and foremost, “preparing your field” meant time alone with God, studying his Word and in prayer. It meant reminding his team that, no matter whether they win or lose, they will praise Him. It meant challenging strong-willed young men to be all that God meant for them to be, both athletically and spiritually. And it meant providing Godly leadership both in his home and at school.
If you and I were to prepare our own fields for God’s rain of grace in our lives, our preparations would look much the same as Coach Taylor’s: solitude, study, prayer, action. But, why should we prepare our fields for rain? Because God is also at work preparing his. “I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” John 4:35. All who believe in Christ live under the light of the same Great Commission: “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Matt. 28:19-20 (NIV). By preparing our hearts and lives to be of service to Him, we become available to be used by Him.
No one seeks after God on his own. The Apostle Paul tells us in Romans 3:10-11 that “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God.” Jesus himself was even more direct: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” (John 6:44.) God first seeks us! So, before we even think of someone as a person with whom we should share our faith, God is already at work in that person’s life, preparing him or her to receive the Word. Coach Taylor’s experience in Facing the Giants is a good example. The Coach’s preparation of his own field led to a new unity within his football team, a revival of faith among the school’s student body, and even the healing of a broken relationship between a star player and his father. Not everyone can be a leader of an organization and have such a large impact. But we can all join God in the work of soul winning.
Several years ago, my family travelled to another city with a small church group to minister to a people group of another faith and culture. Before we left, we spent many Sundays after church praying with our team, learning about the faith and culture, and reading Scripture about God’s love for all the world. While we were at the mission site, we helped teach English to the adults in the morning, and in the afternoons we just spent time with the families, visiting at a local coffee shop, helping their young children with school lessons, playing sports with their teenagers, and just sharing life with them for a brief time. My wife and daughters visited with one of the families in their apartment, and my two daughters (11 and 12 years old at the time) had the privilege of helping the pre-teen daughter in this family make cupcakes for the very first time. As my daughters spent time with this young girl, she asked them the inevitable question: “Why did you leave your home to come and be with us?” God had prepared this young girl’s heart for to hear the message of Jesus’ love for her and her family, and my daughters had the joyous opportunity to share with this young girl the reason for the hope we have in Jesus.
Those of you who remember Facing the Giants will also remember that things turn out pretty well for Coach Taylor in the end. Perhaps a little too well (remember the new pickup truck?). But that’s OK, it’s a movie. And, it can serve as a reminder that, for believers in Christ, things always work out very well in the end, when we step out of this world and into His presence. But while we may not experience as many blessings during a brief period of time as Coach Taylor’s character did in the movie, each of us still has the privilege of joining God in his work of bringing others to himself.