Failure?

The carol service on Thursday was great. Everything ran smoothly, lots of CU members pitched in and worked hard and joyfully, plenty of non-Christians came along and there was a very clear gospel presentation. Then we went to get some food, and spending time relaxing with my Christian family was great. By the time I got home I was feeling great, and praising God.

So I probably shouldn’t have been surprised that on Friday Satan was on the attack. Being tired in the morning, I missed my quiet time and first two lectures. Then was the ‘follow-up’ event which was pretty poorly attended (though plenty of CU people came along for which I am thankful) and where I didn’t do a good job of my role. During the afternoon, I had several (I reckon about 5) really good chances to talk to people about Jesus and none of them ‘worked’. In fact, twice I managed to kill the conversation before it had even got going – usually it’s the other guy trying to do that! By the time I got home I was feeling absolutely rubbish.

So what did I do? I knew that what I needed was to be reminded of grace, and that I needed help, so I phoned home! I told dad how I was feeling and he – as I had been hoping – gave me the reminders that I sorely needed. I am truly grateful to him, but I know that whatever he said would have been no use had it not been for the power of the Spirit illuminating and applying God’s word and God’s gospel as dad spoke so I’m hugely thankful to God. It was ultimately him and not dad who brought me to the point of fighting back tears while on the phone because of his huge grace, and who buoyed me up through the rest of the evening. Then, I got some food, relaxed for a bit and went to bed. It may sound mundane, but being fed and rested makes it far harder to fall into the sin of self-pity, joylessness and not trusting God’s promises.

This evening (Sunday) at church someone asked me how the follow-up went. It wasn’t a good time to ask as I was still feeling quite down about the whole thing, so I told her that it had been quite rubbish and that the whole day had been – I’d had loads of great chances from God and screwed up every one of them. Another friend who overheard corrected me – reminding me that God is sovereign, that all we do is serve and leave the results up to him, everything that I’ve been telling everyone else! I told him that I knew that but couldn’t believe it yet which he said was a great reason to keep telling me it. I’ve asked them to ask about the follow-up again next week when, by God’s grace, I’m hoping to be able to tell them it was great – that people turned up ready and eager to share the gospel and that we’re leaving everything else up to God. We’ll see whether I can or not.

What’s my point in posting these vaguely connected events from the last couple of days? I’m not really sure – I’m too tired to think of anything very clever. But be encouraged if you think you’ve failed or aren’t good enough. That just means that God uses people who aren’t God. People like me! Or if you know someone like that then do point them back to God and God’s word as those two people have for me. Have faith that if they go back to the Bible and ask God to speak to them through it then he will and things will fall back into perspective.

If nothing else (and there has been plenty else, so I don’t know why I’d say that!) God really has used this carol service to convince me of the power of his word. Verses that people have shared with me have been hugely uplifting, and when I’ve been tired and depressed and just opened the Bible and asked God to talk to me, he graciously has and has reminded me over and over how awesome the gospel is. I knew in theory that that’s how it should work, but never really understood it. I still don’t understand it – but now I know for myself it’s true! I couldn’t have lived without it.

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