The Sudden Resurgence of Joy

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:

  1. I’m a terrible evangelist and seem to duck out of any opportunity I’m given,
  2. I hardly get to speak to any non-Christians during the week, and
  3. 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.

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