Pastor Ephraim Jonah sat at his desk, opposite him sat a young man named Bill. He had been coming to church now for about four months. Ephraim had noticed him because he always sat in the back, very quietly, keeping to himself. He always came alone and never spoke to anyone.
However, that began to change, as Bill had been opening up in small ways. He introduced himself to Ephraim one Sunday after church and had begun to take part in some of the church activities, for example, he had come to the recent church picnic and seemed to enjoy himself.
Last Sunday he had asked for some time during the week for a talk, consequently, they were meeting today.
Pastor Ephraim was sitting patiently waiting for Bill to begin speaking. He could tell by his expression and body language that he was not completely at ease so Ephraim did not push, but let him sit for a time. After a while, Bill began to speak, and said,
“I have been thinking about my life.”
Ephraim saw that he spoke with difficulty, as he avoiding direct eye contact, and looked at the floor.
Nevertheless he continued, saying, “I have been going over, in my head, all of the failures of my life and the lies, both to myself and to others that I have told.
Last Sunday you told us that we are all in Christ new creations. I keep asking myself how that can be. How can someone like me, be made new? Its not that I don’t believe I want to believe it just seems so impossible.”
He sat with his eyes still fixed on the floor. Lowering his head into his hands he said “if you knew me, I mean really knew me, you would not want me here.”
Bill sat before him, just that way, lost in confusion and despair. Ephraim decided the time was right to speak. “Bill, I have been a pastor now for twenty five years, ten of them right here. Before that, I worked in an inner city ministry in its most crime and drug infested parts. I also worked in a prison ministry among people who made me fear for my very life.
I have had people sit in front of me and tell me every type of sin that you can think of and maybe some that you can’t. Through it all, there is one thing that I have discovered to be an overwhelming truth. That truth is that the level of man’s sin as prolific, disgusting, or terrifying that it may be is dwarfed by the love of God, which He has reveals to us in Christ.”
For the first time Bill, lifted his head, and met his eyes. “I would really love to believe that I really would” Bill said. “It seems so good, to good, I mean, why me all of the things that I have done in my life how can I deserve something like that?”
Ephraim leaned forward, “that’s the beauty of it Bill, you can’t deserve it, its grace, Gods unmerited favor.” Ephraim waited for a moment to let things sink in. “Remember Romans 5:8” Ephraim said, “We talked about that verse two Sundays ago?”
Bill thought to himself for a moment and than offered “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us, was that it?” “That’s the one” Ephraim said, “You have a good memory Bill.” “Thank you” Bill said, “to tell you the truth, that verse really haunted me.” “How so” Ephraim asked?” Bill replied, “I don’t know, I guess it just made me think.”
Bill seemed lost in thought for a moment and then looking up, he said, “well I had better get going, thanks for the talk I enjoyed it.”
As he walked towards the door, he turned and asked, “Maybe we could do it again sometime?” Ephraim, taking Bill’s hand in his said “Anytime Bill anytime.”
Ephraim watched him as he walked out the office door. There would be plenty of time to learn the details of his life and, with Gods help, begin the process of working through all of his guilt. What truly mattered was that in Bill’s life, God was at work.
Ephraim sitting back in his chair, turned towards his window and looking at the waning sun both pondered and rejoiced over the irresistible nature of God’s love.
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