That’s not going to work

Storm clouds

Anne* grew up in a family that was fairly religious. Her mother would read and teach the Bible to her four children. Anne remembers Mom rousing the children early on Sunday mornings to get them ready for church service.

But as she grew up, Anne fell away from Sunday school and, by the time she reached high school, she had dropped out of church. The crowd she hung out with were troublemakers. They introduced her to alcohol and she ended up getting into trouble with the law. Though there were people who cared enough to ask her why she was walking this path, she turned a deaf ear to them. She simply didn’t care to listen or to change.

Fast forward to her adult years. By now, Anne had married twice, ending up with a daughter and five step-children. With so many young ones to care for, she tried to clean up her life. Anne modelled her mother’s behaviour—she took the children to church, started reading her Bible and did her best to be a good person.

When her daughter was baptised, Anne felt a strong desire to find God. But how? She had thought that being a good person—helping others and doing good things—would make her acceptable in God’s eyes. But there was a nagging doubt in the pit of her stomach that she wasn’t succeeding. However she didn’t know where to find answers.

Then tragedy struck—one of her step-sons died. At his funeral, Anne was re-acquainted with old friends, a dear couple named Steve and Mavis.* Anne took the opportunity to tell Mavis about her life and her search for God.

When she explained how she was trying hard to be good enough to please God, Mavis told her, “That’s not going to work.” Anne was puzzled. What other way was there?

Mavis saw that her friend was confused. So she asked, “Would you like to do a Bible study with me?”

Anne nodded. Having made arrangements to meet, Mavis began to take Anne through the Worldview Rethink curriculum. Using The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus, she began explaining to Anne what God was like. She walked Anne through creation, showing how man was created innocent, but then how his nature had become become corrupt because of sin. All men are “in Adam” (Romans 5:12) because all have inherited his sin nature.

Though Anne had some Bible background, this was the first time she was grasping these truths. She was only partway through the book when, John Cross, the author, came to speak at the church she was attending. He explained how people were all “in Adam” and helpless to save themselves because of their sin nature. But because of what Jesus did on the cross—dying on mankind’s behalf, people everywhere could now put their trust in him and move from being “in Adam” to become one who is “in Christ” (1 Cor 15:22). In other words, a person is declared righteous in God’s eyes because of faith in Jesus Christ.

This was the moment when the gospel clicked into focus for Anne. She understood for the first time! It wasn’t her effort that made her look good before God, it was what Jesus did on her behalf. All she had to do was trust in who he was, and what he had done for her.

“Only trusting in Christ could save me and this understanding was cemented in me when John Cross came to teach,” she later related. “I realized that day, I wanted to be in Christ, not in Adam. I prayed for forgiveness and asked Jesus to save me.”

That was the day when life turned around for Anne. She went on to finish studying The Stranger with Mavis and she continues today to study the Scriptures regularly. She is growing in her knowledge and understanding of God. On the morning of her baptism, Anne stood up in the front of the church to share her testimony. Speaking with a voice brimming with emotion, she said, “My baptism today, is the day that I let everyone know that I’m a believer in Jesus Christ our Saviour and that I’m trusting him alone to save me and that, one day, I will see him.”

There is so much rejoicing for Anne. She had found how to be reconciled with God. Through a tragedy, the Lord had brought back into her life two faithful friends. And Mavis, being caring and alert, took the time to lay a biblical foundation for Anne so she could understand the gospel.

In our own lives, do we have old friends or acquaintances who are struggling to find meaning in life or struggling to find out who God is? Are we prepared to do as Steve and Mavis did, to engage deeply with friends, to care for them and above all, to share with them the life-giving message of the Bible? Will you pray to God for the opportunity to be an ambassador for Christ?

(* All names changed as per GoodSeed policy.)