Victory and Defeat, and Victory. . .and Defeat. . .and Victory

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Victory and Defeat, and Victory–

The past week has been one immeasurably taxing on all the faculties I possess spiritually, mentally, and physically. Preaching by day and working by night left little to no time for sleep. Nevertheless, God saw to it that victory was won. On Wednesday evening, as I was preaching about the resurrection of Christ and what it means for us, the Holy Spirit came down and lit a fire in my bones. As the excitement escalated and began running through my soul, I found myself preaching in blur, telling how Gabriel the angel just couldn’t wait to get to the tomb on Sunday morning to open it up and call Jesus out. My excitement was contagious as I heard more of a collective response from the kids during the sermon than I had ever heard before. Soon, as I made the appeal and students stood to their feet, I felt the Spirit lead me to hold out just a little longer. I stopped and looked around the darkened room asking God who else needed to stand. Then I saw him. And then he stood.

 

After the service was over, I talked to him. He told me that as I had described the scene–all of heaven watching the events of passover and then Gabriel speeding his way through space to reach the tomb of Jesus–he had seen the most vivid picture of Jesus coming back to this earth, and as goose bumps spread across his body, he knew he wasn’t ready. That night as we talked, he decided, through his tears, to make his calling and election sure–to go all in for Christ. Victory.

 

Two nights later I was in the same situation with a different boy. Different problems, different doubts. We talked for nearly an hour. I explained to him that his problem was that he was afraid to give complete control of his life to God. After what seemed like hours the spiritual warfare came to a flaming head. With all the energy I had left in me after working a week of sleepless nights and preaching 2 or 3 times a day, I pleaded with him again to pray the prayer and experience the peace. He turned and walked away. Defeat.

 

I fell to my knees in the chapel, having lost all strength and any comeliness I may have had, and I began to cry out to God to save this boy. I heard the outside door close and a ceaseless flood of tears began to flow. Earnestly I begged the Lord to bring him back. Helplessly I acknowledged that there was nothing more I could do. Then I heard footsteps. I thought perhaps it was the Chaplin of the school, and so I kept praying. Then I heard the voice of the boy asking me why I was crying. Through my tears I attempted to explain just how much God cares about him and how much it hurts for me to see him reject that love. Somehow, God moved his heart, and the boy asked me to help him pray. That night he gave control of his life to God. Victory.

 

. . .and Defeat. . .

On the final night of the evangelistic series I preached a message on the Apostle James’ exhortation to be hearers of the word and not merely doers. God used the message to reach hearts, and as I made an appeal for all who had been impressed concerning what place in their lives they needed to make a commitment with God to stand, my heart was filled with joy to see so many standing. My eyes then fell upon the young man who had surrendered control of his life to Christ the previous night. He was seated, and he remained seated. Defeat.

 

. . .and Victory. . .

Later that evening I called the boy aside to see what was going on with him. That opened a whole new can of worms that I wasn’t prepared to deal with. The adversary had been hard at work planting seeds of doubt in his heart. I responded to his initial issues, but his doubts would just not be altogether dispelled. As we talked, I felt led by the Spirit to bring the conversations to an end. I told him that he knew the peace that he had the night before when he had given total control of his life to God. I said that I was there that night because he didn’t know how to gain the peace on his own. Now that he’d gained it, I wasn’t needed. I told him that I’d be there if he ever wanted help, but ultimately that he could choose to have the peace whenever he wanted it.

 

That night as I prepared to sleep, I laid down on the bed and opened my Bible, seeking words of encouragement. I chuckled to myself as I turned the pages, realizing that is was the first time I’d slept in a bed all week long. My Bible opened to a passage where a piece of paper had been left, and I began to read of how King David made provisions for the work that he could not do in building the Temple. Instantly I was comforted to know that I was doing a work of preparation in the life of the boy, and that God would see to the completion of that work even if I would not personally see it. I then looked at the piece of paper and found it to be a note from a girl who had borrowed my Bible. She thanked me for doing all that I had done to make the evangelistic series and went so far as to call me an angel in disguise. I smiled as I read the words and then saw a scripture reference in the postscript. I turned there in the Bible and saw it was the words that Jesus says to the sheep on His right hand. The words that even now linger,”…inasmuch as you have done it to one of the least of these my brothers, you have done it unto me.” Victory.

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