As I was leaving the house this morning to go street preaching, it almost never occurred to me that today, this day, is the 5th anniversary of the very first time I stepped out to preach on the streets.
“But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.” Acts 20:24 (KJV)
On Saturday, March 24th, 2012, I followed the Lord’s call on my life to preach the gospel on the streets of Saint Augustine, Florida. It was thrilling to be standing on a street corner in the oldest city in America, preaching the gospel of the grace of God and handing out gospel tracts. Over time, other liked-minded Christians came to join me on the front lines, to plead with a lost and dying world to get saved.
Year and after year we stood in the gap, pointing people to the Saviour. We stopped counting at 250,000 gospel tracts handed out, with 17 people praying to receive Jesus. It felt great to be used of the Lord in this way, and the fellowship we would have was beyond precious.
Then, I took my eyes off the Lord.
Somewhere in the middle of Year 4 of the ministry, I felt myself begin to “cool down” somewhat. Coming down to the streets wasn’t as “exciting” as it used to be, and we were no longer preaching in “any and all weather”, but only going out when it was nice. You know exactly where this is leading.
Towards the end of last year we took a break for the holidays, something we never used to do. Instead of it being a short break, it wound up being nearly 6 months. And you know what? I almost never came back. I was tired of looking at churches falling away, Christians falling away, and I took my eyes off Jesus to such an extent that I, too, for a time, fell away myself.
All this happened because I took my eyes off of Jesus, and forgot why we preached on the streets in the first place. Why we preach can be summed up in 5 little words:
“Because there is a Hell…”
Needless to say, the 6 months I took off I was miserable. Out of church and out of daily fellowship with the Lord is a terrible place to be. But the Lord in His grace and mercy wouldn’t allow me to stay there.
“Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” Philippians 1:6 (KJV)
A couple of weeks ago, the Lord began to break through my spiritual fog, and began drawing me back to Himself. What started as a “still, small voice” turned into an overwhelming choir that became impossible to resist. The other morning I woke up and the words “Day One” echoed through my brain, over and over. After a time of reflection on the beach, I knew exactly what those words meant. It was time to come back to my first love, Jesus, just like it was the first day I ever did it.
“But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” Ephesians 2:13 (KJV)
It was time to take a “blood bath”, settle up my accounts with the Lord, shake off the spiritual cobwebs and get back in the game. As I was leaving the house this morning to go street preaching, it almost never occurred to me that today, this day, is the 5th anniversary of the very first time I stepped out to preach on the streets.
Incredible, and right on time. God’s timing is always perfect.
“And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy…” 1 Timothy 1:12,13 (KJV)