The church office manager was silent when he asked from what I recall, as though she knew the man didn’t need to join the church. That wasn’t his need. I wasn’t silent. The words found their way out of my mouth as words so often do with me. So unplanned. So unpredictable. So God. The Holy Spirit has a way of moving through my heart in such a way that I often don’t know what to expect. Of course, it’s better that way with me. With too long a history of getting in His way, it is good to know He is willing to pour Himself through me in such a way that my flesh has to simply get the heck out of His pathway. Like when He moved in my heart to utter the words I spoke to the man.
“Do you remember me?” I said simply. I loved this man. I met him a year ago when I gave him a sleeping bag as part of Walk by Faith Ministry’s Sweet Dreams Project: Helping the Homeless Dream and Sleep. I loved that even amid his seemingly insurmountable challenges he took the time to share with me how he studied his Bible.
He didn’t remember me. I suppose he was too drunk as we stood together to recall. It didn’t matter anyway. For the Holy Spirit had a plan, which should not have surprised me since I had felt so led to go to the soup kitchen after weeks of not going.
“How are you with Jesus?” I asked.
I can’t even remember what He told me. It didn’t matter, because the next thing that came tumbling out of my mouth was what needed to be said. And it had nothing at all to do with church membership. It had everything to do with this man’s personal relationship with the Lord.
“Is it time to repent?”
Anybody who knows me knows I don’t hold back. I don’t beat around the bushes. I am told I am bold. I know I am. How can I afford not to be? People’s lives are at stake. My obedience is at stake, after a long history of way too much disobedience – which I can still fall into more easily than I would like. Not only are people’s lives are at stake. Their futures are at stake. Where they will spend eternity. And their day to day living is at stake also. Their relationship with the Lord, or lack thereof, well, where does it stand? How can I afford not to do as I am led.
What a question. “Is it time to repent.”
The drunk, broken, man who stood before me, who couldn’t remember even knowing me, he didn’t even hesitate. He knew the answer probably before I even was led to ask the question.
I suppose he just nodded. I really can’t remember. Because the only thing truly that mattered was that this man walked straight through the fellowship hall without hesitation, walked past every single seat he could have taken to wait for a good hot meal. Marched himself right into the sanctuary. And didn’t hesitate for an instant.
Drunk. Down. Upward. He marched his drunken, broken, self straight to the front of the sanctuary, right up to the altar, and fell flat down on his face. See, he wasn’t concerned about a good hot meal. He wasn’t concerned with fellowship. He forgot all about the church membership, at least until later. He knew whose presence he stood in. He knew he was in the presence of the Lord. He knew what he needed to do.
He did not fall to the floor because he was drunk. He fell to the floor broken. Broken before the Lord. Drunk. Down flat on his face. Upward. Upward to the face of the Lord. He begged. He pleaded. He wept. And for at least 10 or 15 minutes straight, he wept. And pleaded. And begged. He repented aloud. Because he knew more than anything else in the world, he needed to repent. And he did not hold back. He sought the Lord’s forgiveness with all of his heart.
I could have cried watching him. To see something I so rarely see, I so rarely hear, in a world in which we are so much more prone to go straight for the food, the people, the stuff, the world. Instead of to the most important of all. The Lord.
Drunk. Down. Upward.
When was the last time you fell down onto your face, and wept, and cried out, and begged, and pleaded, for mercy?
Is it time to repent?
14“Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, 15and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” Mark 1:14-15 NASB