The other day, I found a note from this summer that a friend, David Goodman, gave me. It ended with two questions:
What is the Gospel? What do I do with that?
I love those question because answering them affects so many things. Right now, I'm finding that the answers give significance to struggle, pain, joy, and hope. I just finished reading The Hidden Smile of God by John Piper. It's a collection of biographies of John Bunyan, William Cowper, and David Brainerd, and it tells how God produced fruit through their suffering.
John Bunyan was jailed several times, including once for twelve years, because he refused to stop preaching the gospel. His mother and sister died within one month while he was a teenager, his first wife died, and he had a daughter blind from birth. Here is Bunyan's insight into these two questions:
What is the Gospel?
I saw with the eyes of my soul Jesus Christ at God's right hand; there, I say, was my righteousness; so that wherever I was, or whatever I was doing, God could not say of me, he wants [lacks] my righteousness, for that was just before him. I also saw, moreover, that it was not my good frame of heart that made my righteousness better, nor yet my bad frame that made my righteousness worse, for my righteousness was Jesus Christ himself 'The same yesterday, today, and forever' Hebrews 13:8 (pg. 52).
What do I do with that?
Conversion is not the smooth, easy-going process some men seem to think.... It is wounding work, of course, this breaking of the hearts, but without wounding there is no saving.... Where there is grafting there is a cutting, the scion must be let in with a wound; to stick it on to the outside or to tie it on with a string would be of no use. Heart must be set to heart and back to back, or there will be no sap from root to branch, and this I say, must be done by a wound (pg. 65).
My friend, David, asked those questions after reading this book, and I understand better his questions now that I've read it. Some of you know how difficult this last month has been for me. Praise God for conforming me to the image of His Son through my trials and for kindling an ache that is only satisfied by His presence.
This week, I'm reading:
I am David (also titled North to Freedom), by Anne Holm. One of my favorite movies, I am David, is based on this book, so I had to pick it up.