Joy Complete

We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete.
1 John 1:3-4

I write often about being a mom, small business-ing, being married. I write about things that are consistently in my face and demand my attention. Bringing others (outside of the people in my home) into the fellowship of Jesus Christ? That’s not my main goal every day. And I wish it was.

I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
Luke 15:7

That was me. That is me. I remember the night perfectly, the lighting in the room, that pounding in my chest prompting me to surrender to Christ. I was hungry for Jesus, starving for the wisdom of my Creator. I came to Jesus while my brother looked on, not too long after he had done the same a few weeks earlier. I remember the following morning at school, wanting to share this great and glorious news with everyone. But I was hesitant, unsure of the reactions I would receive. So for the most part, I kept this great news of my repentance to myself and those close by who knew about it. But the fire in my soul was an inferno. I was consumed by the presence of Christ in my life, and I was willing to go to great lengths (and emotional turmoil) to see others I loved do the same.

But it didn’t happen. I didn’t bring a line of people to the throne, I didn’t even convince people I really loved that this new-found joy in Christ was worth it. I was naive mostly, unaware that believing in Jesus and walking with Jesus were two completely different things, and making that change was a heart issue, not a necessarily easy choice for everyone like it had been for me. I was let down often, disappointed, and blamed myself for not being a better Christian. I was convinced for years that it was my job to bring anyone to Christ. I forgot about that pounding in my chest years earlier, the prompting in my soul that no man could create. Only my Creator could do that.

I was 17 when I wrote a college application essay that peeled apart my pain and put it on display. My goal wasn’t to gain sympathy, it was merely to be as real as I could so that this Christian college would see how valuable I could be to their body of students. I received the greatest praise for it, offered a scholarship, and was close to even making the choice to go there. But I couldn’t do it, and I think it was because I didn’t want it to be so easy. Walking with Jesus and living out the Gospel, as I had learned first-hand, was difficult. It still is. Moving from my reality to one coated head-to-toe in Christ-centered thinking, surrounded by other believers, seemed too easy.

I’m 24 now, not a college graduate, a stay-at-home mom, a writer, a heart desperate for the wisdom of my Creator. Jesus has shattered my fears and won me over for 12 years. 4,380 days I have never walked alone. I have lost more people to the world than I have won to Jesus, and that creates a reluctance in me to live out that part of the gospel. Making disciples within my boys feels easier, more important, than bringing outsiders in, with the hopes that they learn to love Jesus too. The vulnerability of loving people and hoping beyond hope is tiresome. But every soul is worth more than gold. Every soul is precious to my King, none more important, none more valuable than the other. And I know in my life, of those I love dearest, of those I have hoped beyond hope for 12 years and loved deeply, my joy will be great on the day when they see Jesus for the Savior that I do. My prayers command their souls to be protected, but I can’t make choices for them. I can’t make people feel the pounding in their heart or the prompting in their soul, no matter that I’ll never forget that moment for me.

…there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons…

I don’t win over any souls on my own. There’s nothing I can do apart from Christ that shows others His love. Some of us are called to great lengths, to travel the world, to make grand gestures. Some of us are gifted with evangelism that draws hearts to the Creator. And some of us are not. But it only takes one soul, one sinner, to make the heavens rejoice. At some point in time, that one sinner was you. It’s not in the numbers that we see the joy of Christ. It’s not in the quality of our words or serving. It’s in the simple love of Jesus. He was the sacrifice. He was giver of peace. And there is, no matter how unbelievable it may seem, nothing we can do to earn such a gift.

Bring others to the fellowship of Jesus Christ for the sole purpose of Jesus Christ. Not for the recognition. Not even for the joy it may bring. For His glory. For His name. For His precious blood is enough for every soul, and there will be much rejoicing in the heavens at the answer of the pounding in our chests.

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