FIRST-PERSON: God turns ashes into beauty
The phrase “He goes before you” (Deuteronomy 31:8) echoed through my mind and convicted me to pray for one salvation before going out with the Everyday Evangelism team. We knocked on several doors and had conversations with a couple of neighbors; one Catholic and the other Baptist. Although coming from different religious backgrounds, the conversations were identical. Both men stated that they were relying on their moral choices for salvation. Hearts were hardened to the truth, and both doors were shut to the Gospel.
While we were walking up to the last house, a quick prayer for people of peace and softened hearts was lifted up. After knocking on the door, an elderly man in a housecoat appeared. Inquiring about his spiritual background, he stated that he had been part of the Presbyterian church for as long as he could remember. A little into our conversation, I inquired, “If you were to stand before God and He were to ask, ‘Why should I let you into heaven?’ how would you respond?” He immediately started to weep. His wife died one year prior, and he was still grieving her loss.
My initial human response to his tears was, “Oh, no! Should I have asked a different question? Something more gentle to soften the blow?” God immediately convicted my heart. Hebrews 9:27 states that “it is appointed for people to die once—and after this, judgment….” The message of the Gospel is urgent. May we not “soften the blow” of the Gospel to diminish the weight and punishment of sin, thus diminishing the grace and the glory of the Lord!
Another member of the team explained the Gospel to him. We shared with him that it is by grace that we are saved through faith; that our best works are but dirty rags before Him. If we could depend on our works for salvation, Jesus would have needlessly sacrificed Himself for us. When asked if he had ever made a decision to follow Jesus as Lord of his life, God convicted his heart of sin. He answered simply and honestly, “No, I’ve never made that decision.”
“Would you like to make that decision today?” we asked. In tears, he replied, “Yes.”
We prayed with him as he repented of his sin, confessing Jesus as Lord. Tears streamed down his face and peace came over him as he was overwhelmed with what just happened. God used the brokenness of this man’s life to draw him to Himself, turning ashes into beauty. As we were leaving, we encouraged him to meet with his pastor and family to tell them of the decision he had made.
Church, the fields are ripe for harvest. May we be intentional in sharing the Gospel with others! May we step out in obedience to Jesus and His instructions to “go, therefore, and make disciples,” because He promised, “I am with you always” (Matthew 28:18-20).
The Creator of the universe, who loves us, sees fit to use us in sharing that love with others. “Who are you that you should fear humans who die…?” (Isaiah 51:12). We can trust the One who goes before and stands behind, who places words in our mouths and covers us in the shadow of His hand (Isaiah 51:16).
The One who covers our sin … can we not trust Him with our very lives?! As such, let us offer our bodies as living sacrifices for His Kingdom and His glory. He is mighty to save!
*Emily Bond is a Master of Divinity student at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.