What a joy it is to be a preacher!!
When the couple started crying half way through the sermon, I thought it was a) a bad joke gone wrong b) the realisation that the sermon was longer than 15 minutes or c) they had heard that we’d ran out of biscuits to go with the coffee after the service.
I never bargained for the glorious fact that the Holy Spirit was doing a deep work in their hearts. A deep, deep work of repentance that leads to life. They shared with me afterwards what God was doing:
After years of hardening the heart, and learning various strategies that helped them get by in church life, they were at a point in their lives where several strands of their lives came together and the walls came crashing down. The resistance they were used to putting up was utterly futile against the tidal wave of God’s exquisite love.
What I love about their story, is that it happened to both of them as they sat there together, and that they recognised what was going on. In her own words: “I cried tears of repentance for the first time – and meant it, truly, for the first time. I can’t believe how wonderful and kind God is towards me!”
Friends, if you have the honour to preach God’s Word, I urge and encourage you to press on, in season and out of season. Not being afraid of what people may think, or doubting what God is doing, but in faith, with diligence and prayer, preach the Gospel with boldness, it is the power of God for salvation.
This couple’s story reminded me of that great Puritan prayer in Arthur Bennett’s Valley of Vision:
“Melt my heart, heal my backslidings, and open an intercourse of love. When the fire of thy compassion warms my inward man, and the outpourings of thy Holy Spirit fill my soul, then I feelingly wonder at my own depravity, and deeply abhor myself; then thy grace is a powerful incentive to repentance, and an irresistible motive to inward holiness.
May I never forget that thou hast my heart in thy hands. Apply to it the merits of Christ’s atoning blood whenever I sin. Let thy mercies draw me to thyself. Wean me from all evil, mortify me to the world, and make me ready for my departure hence animated by the humiliations of penitential love.
Remember: There is more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents……