Alright, maybe it wasn’t so sudden. Maybe this post should be called The Sudden Realisation of the Gradual Resurgence of Joy, but that’s just an awkward title.
It’s a Sunday evening and I’m walking home, when I finally realise that my joy had returned. I’m walking home from church after a sermon that would normally leave me discouraged – it was an evangelistic sermon challenging us on our willingness to speak out about the gospel in our day to day life. One of those “your work-place is your mission-field, and if you know how wonderful God’s salvation is, you should be desperate to share it with the lost” kind of sermons. This normally discourages me for a number of reasons:
- I’m a terrible evangelist and seem to duck out of any opportunity I’m given,
- I hardly get to speak to any non-Christians during the week, and
- I feel guilty that I’m not preaching the gospel to complete strangers I pass on the streets.
But during the sermon I had been talking to God and asking Him if I really have any reason to feel guilty about not evangelising. I was worried that even though I hardly ever get to speak to non-believing friends or colleagues, I might be shirking my responsibility to share the gospel with strangers on the streets. So I asked Him if I could do the whole fleece-test thing. I said “if you want me to share the gospel with complete strangers, please give me some very obvious opportunities while I walk home. If no strangers approach me, I’ll assume you don’t want me to become a street-evangelist.”
And that’s what happened – no one approached me or passed me at all, which is actually quite unexceptional, but it lightened the burden that I had placed on myself.
As I turn into my road on this beautiful, warm evening, I finally notice the calm confidence that has been growing inside me over the last few weeks. It is confidence in God’s love and mercy that I haven’t experienced for a very long time. At some point, many years ago, guilt at my own perceived uselessness had grown and wrapped itself around all the things I believed about God until my joy died and I was left with confused emptiness (I’ll tell you the full story in another post).
But now I realise that guilt holds no power over me. Even though I am concerned that I’m not fulfilling all of what God wants me to do, I know that He loves me, understands me, and will always have mercy on me.