There is a saying that has crossed my mind a few times today, it is “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink”, meaning that people, like horses, will only do what they have a mind to do. I actually thought of it as I was trying to get my mother to eat a bite of supper. I had prepared a nice little plate for her, I served it on a little lap table so she could remain in her recliner and eat while watching “Family Feud” then went back in the kitchen to finish up what I was doing. When I went back a few minutes later I was dismayed to look at her plate because she had taken her fork and just mashed her food flat, so flat that I could see the mark of the tines of the fork were all going in one direction. I said “Mother I see that you have done a really good job of mashing your food into your plate with your fork, why did you do that?” She flashed her eyes at me and said, “Because I didn’t want it!” I took her plate and turned around saying, under my breath “Yeah, that was pretty obvious!” I asked her if she would like an ice cream cone and she answered with alacrity “YES!” I didn’t have to force that on her! I can put wonderful food in front of her but if she won’t eat it she could die with malnutrition!
Another thing you can’t force is love, Bonnie Raitt said it well with “I can’t make you love me if you don’t, you can’t make your heart feel something it won’t...” You can’t be nice enough or pretty enough to make someone feel butterflies or heat, as it were, if the chemistry isn’t there.
Unless a person has a thirst to learn you can’t force them to pick up a book and study and if you try to force them to learn something they can’t understand they just get an aversion to the subject and more or less block it out. I can speak to that one personally as math was the subject that absolutely escaped me and no matter how many times my dad tried to help me with my homework I couldn’t make sense of fractions and let me tell you something my friend, I have never had a need for fractions in my adult life! As for adding, subtracting and division, isn’t that what a computer or adding machine is for? Even my phone has a calculator in it!
So why is it we think we can shove “religion” down anyone’s throat and have them accept it? It won’t work and religion for religion’s sake isn’t any good anyway. You get a baby to eat by showing him how good it is, “Yum, yum this is so good, want a taste?” You might at least get a persons interest by showing your best self and being pleasant and if they don’t fall in love with you maybe you will gain a new friend. If you want a person to come to know Jesus you have to let Him shine through you at all times and let them wonder what is different about you. I have had people that I dealt with in places where I worked and shopped often ask me why it is that I smile all the time! That opened an opportunity not to take out my Bible and start preaching but to gently present Jesus the way a lady I could never forget did…
Marie Pauls came to our church and she was the first woman preacher I ever knew. She was an actress in her young years, and always maintained her link to Hollywood so that she could witness to them. When they came to visit us in Atlanta she was then nearing 80, Marie had a big dip of the “dramatic” that befit a woman of her era, I simply loved her. We went shopping and every sales person we encountered received a short testimony, and an offered prayer. I dare say that we didn’t leave many dry eyes in our wake that day; they had never experienced a woman like Marie. The story she told me while standing on the sidewalk, in front of the Plaza Drug Store on Ponce, waiting for our ride, was her own personal story and one I had never heard and didn’t know about her. As the bride of a successful young doctor, they boarded a luxury liner for their honeymoon; this would have been in the 30’s. While on this cruise across the “Pond”, her husband, the doctor, fell ill and died. She left California as a bride and returned as a, pregnant, widow. As she told me how God sent His ministering angels to her during her time of mourning and the birth of a son, who was born with a deformed left arm, tears spilled across her cheeks. Her Hollywood connections tried to get her to come back to their life of parties and high living, but she found the Lord on that ship and wouldn’t trade Him for any party or friend in Hollywood, or anything. After a time she met Otto, a very short, stocky man with a fringe of curls around his ears and a very bald, shiny head. He fell desperately in love with his Marie and she loved him. Together they evangelized the United Stated and brought many souls to the Lord. Did this happen to her so she would become an evangelist? No, I believe it happened and God saw in her an open heart, to which He held out a helping hand that she gratefully and willingly reached out and grabbed and held onto tightly.
Anyone that heard her story would willingly take a drink of the living water she presented. Take a lesson and lead with a gentle touch to win, to gain love or make your loved one eat their supper!