“… and you will be My witnesses…” Acts 1:8
With cheery rounds of ‘Happy New Year’ still ringing in our ears, we have spent these first few weeks of 2018 draped in sorrow as someone we loved died an agonising death without Christ. There are no words for the deep sadness that fills our hearts every moment these days. Despite our best efforts to share the complete peace and lasting joy that is only a ‘Yes’ away, this heart remained closed.
‘I don’t want anything to do with religion.’
‘I only believe in myself.’
‘I’m in control of my own life. If there’s anything after death… I’ll take my chances.’
Responses like these are not uncommon when we share the Gospel, but when they come in the last days of a person’s life, especially when that person is dear to us, they tear at our hearts and send us crying to our Father for mercy.
As we pray through agonising nights, we recognise the deeper roots of our sadness. Why didn’t we share more about the joy of our salvation much earlier? Why weren’t we better witnesses of God’s great love over the years? Why did we let ourselves believe that there would always be time? Prayers for mercy meld into prayers for forgiveness; forgiveness for the chances we wasted, for the responsibility we bear for our loved one’s unbelief.
We are learning a painful lesson with eternal consequences. We can never be complacent – not for one second – about our role as Christ’s representatives. Each and every moment, in each and every encounter with those who don’t yet know Him, we must be His hands, His feet, His voice. We must be ready and faithful witnesses of the amazing grace Christ pours out on all who receive Him.
We maintain hope that God will soften this hard heart in front of us. We know that the thief on the cross next to Jesus turned to Him in faith with his last breaths. That can happen here and now, and so we trust God for an equally miraculous answer to our prayers, with gratitude that His mercies never end.
Let us cry out for mercy by:
- Thanking God for being the God of mercy, the God of hope, the God that is love forever;
- Asking God to help us be bold witnesses of Christ’s love and salvation, always and everywhere; sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading as gospel sharing opportunities are placed in front of us and have a sense of urgency in sharing the Good News with unbelievers around us.