Here is a story about a man who had been attending church for a long time; in fact he was an elder in a Presbyterian church for many years. After many years in full service for God (as he thought), he saw that there was a gap, a huge abyss, between the things he lived and those the Bible promised. Soon he became so unsatisfied that not even the lies of his pastor could help this poor man any longer. He was put in total despair. The pastor and others would often tell him he should believe in the Lord, and that he was saved and that there was no way anyone or anything would ever separate him from the love of God. He could no more believe it though – at least this one good thing he was able to do. In his despair he would go on about his church duties until there seemed to be no more hope for him in his own eyes.

One night, though, the Lord came to meet his need in a dream. He saw himself wandering in a killing, dry desert. In fact he was walking in it as if he could not get away from it at all. All he wished was to get away from it, to be saved from it all. He tried to wake up for he knew this was only a massage to him, but he couldn't – he had to stay there. He walked on and found himself on the verge of dying with thirst and hunger for righteousness – wherever he looked there was no water to drink, just hot sand and illusioning heat looking like moisture. For a long time he walked on until he could go on no more. He stopped, fainting and in despair – none was able to deliver him, for all people talking to him seemed to be thirsty themselves, yet unwilling to realize that as he had been. there was nothing for him to drink but bitter and throat-scratching dry air. As he started to walk on again, all of a sudden and out of nowhere, there burst before his eyes a brick wall, which would not let him go any further. He could see all the bricks on it, perfectly laden, forming a barrier to prevent any further going from there since he was refusing to think and stop for a change.

All bricks were of one and the same size and he couldn't think why this wall was put there. He was on the verge of starting to blame God for putting a wall of separation there, right on his way, which made him to halt at an already non-going life. Grace was not seen in this: nevertheless he was intrigued at the sight of this huge, perfect and solid wall in the desert of his life – who could have laid all those bricks with such care and meticulousness besides God? All of a sudden he saw within him that the wall was there only because the water he was so longing for was beyond it. He could not reach for the tree of life, so he could live, because of that wall. Nothing could convince him otherwise, he knew he was dying of thirst and the wall was there to prevent him to drink and live and God put it there. In total despair, he sat down and found no motive, no more strength to carry on. He sat upon a dry, hard rock, as stubborn as a dying mule. He could choose the soft ground, but no, he started to have some masoquistic tendencies also and therefore he chose to sit on a hard rock. All this meant something to him.

He found himself thinking about his past life, just as people usually do  when coming to a dead end. Suddenly he remembered one occasion when he sinned against his own son, when he had been but a little boy. He never thought before that would be such a big deal as it was to him now. But there it seemed so stupid to have done such a thing that he felt guilty about it all. He pleaded God to forgive him for that and there, a brick came off the wall and fell near his feet, with a note bound to it, saying it should be taken to his son. He was amazed and unable to understand it at first. It was then that he remembered how had been careless about his prayer life sometimes. He begged God to forgive him, if it were not too late for him already. Another brick was loosened and thrown so far away from him, as far as the east was from the west – he couldn't see how far away from him it had been thrown! Then he recalled how he had an argument with his wife and went buy her some flowers to appease the matter, being an hypocrite and choosing flowers to be instead of humbling himself before her and God as well. He never asked her for forgiveness at all. Another brick came down. It was so strange that some bricks fell near his feet with a strange note attached to it, as if it demanded from him something he was so resenting to do. The note further said (when he opened it up properly!) that as soon as his son and wife were asked for forgiveness, those bricks would also fall into the abyss as all the others did – but he should hand it over to them as they were and never make it look beautiful to them at all!

He woke up knowing what to do. Right then he started to make a list of all the sins he could remember of. The next day he went to visit people he had grudges against to confess it to them. He found his son and confessed as many sins as he could remember. He went to his father and gave him back some tools he had taken thinking his father would not mind him using them for a while. He   prayed with his pastor about some common sins they had and it served as a beguiled testimony to him – from then on the pastor would be either made a good or a bad tree as Christ commanded. The days after, he kept remembering tons of sins he thought he had been forgiven “by faith” because he often prayed "Lord forgive all my sins, those I know and  those I don’t know". Upon Bible reading the Lord seized upon his emerging doubts the words in Hosea 7:2, which went into his heart as a dagger would do, "and they consider not in their hearts that I (still) remember all their wickedness; now their own doings have beset them about: they are before my face".

Needless to say, he started to experience a sure, unseen lightness within, so much so, that he started to have joy in Bible reading for the first time in his whole life. "My peace I give unto you, but not as the world gives it" made sense to him now, confessing did as well. For the first time he became full aware of what genuine confession is like and what it achieves for us. He started to feel amazingly light as days were passing by, as if a load had been taken from his shoulders as he confessed – all his doubts against God dying one by one, causing his mind slowly to take hold of the unmistakable consciousness of peace, which was becoming his inheritance from then on. This man was overflowing with joy just a few days after that. But, as soon as he would stop confessing further, his peace would be turned into a jungle of fears again and again. The Lord then reminded him that he should put things right rather and press on and not to try and feel happy to avoid going to people and to his knees. The joy of the Spirit was to be a fruit of the spirit and never a masked, forced duty again. This man soon found God in His fullness and died in peace some years later, singing to his Lord on his death bed. None had to tell him ever again “believe God” for he did it almost unconsciously, as naturally as he breathed. He COULD believe now.Amen.

Back to messages-index

José Mateus